Running in the 'Meda: Tour de France, by the numbers

Running in the 'Meda: Tour de France, by the numbers

Marty Beene

A Tour de France directional sign in Arles, France. Photo by Marty Beene.

I mentioned the Tour de France in last week's blog post, as it's one of my favorite sporting events and it starts on Saturday. It's unfortunate that there's such a history of cheating, but I tend to enjoy it from the perspective of trying to imagine riding it myself, and how difficult that would be.

This year's Tour will include nearly 3,400 kilometers of riding, which is about 2,100 miles. The riders cover that distance in about three weeks of riding. The most miles I ever rode in a week was a little over 400, so even if I did that week after week, it would take me around five weeks to cover that distance.

One of the pro teams, Team Sky from Great Britain, posted an infographic on their Facebook page this week with some dizzying stats. For example, last year's last place rider took 96 hours to complete the tour, which is an average speed of 22 miles per hour. I have ridden my bike 22 miles per hour before; I can't imagine doing that for 2,100 miles.

Another interesting stat: A typical rider in Le Tour will consume about 70,000 calories during the three-week event, which, according to Team Sky, is about "265 beefburgers." Hopefully they don't actually eat 265 burgers in that three-week span.

In last year's version of the Tour, there was a total elevation gain of 206,000 feet. To put that in perspective, if you ride up into the Oakland hills, say, up Redwood Road to Skyline Boulevard, you gain about 1,100 feet of elevation. So last year's Tour de France involved an equivalent of climbing that route about 187 times. It's 21 riding days, so you'd want to do that about nine times a day, every day, for three weeks (OK, you get a couple of rest days in the middle).

Watch a few days of the coverage if you haven't before, then get out and ride your bike. No need to overdo it and try to ride like the pros, but going for a nice long ride is a great way to exercise.

In other news, according to rumors on social media, this year's local Fourth of July 5k race, the Ralph Appezzato Charity Event, is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in some years. In addition to some of the top teen runners in Alameda who often compete for the gold, some college and/or just post-collegiate runners - are expected to make the event an exciting one. One runner (who shall remain anonymous!) has suggested he might start the race with a 4:30 mile, just to get the proceedings off to a brisk start. Indeed!

As of press time (Wednesday), the weather forecast is showing a temperature of 61 degrees when the race starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with light winds (only 8 m.p.h.). Sounds like great running weather, so join me!

Marty Beene, a USA Track & Field certified coach and NASM-certified personal trainer, is owner of Be The Runner; he coaches and trains adults from beginners to veterans individually and in groups, and loves both running and cycling. He can be reached at


Submitted by Jon Spangler on Tue, Jul 7, 2015


Thanks for trying to describe the physical challenges of the Tour de France (TDF) in terms that we can understand locally. I have been watching the TDF live for many years, often with Linda, via our computers on NBC Sports, since we do not have Comcast. (I think the live coverage is on Comcast Channel 81 locally.)

The moving team chess game that is bike racing takes a great deal of mental as well as physical ability, and I learned a lot about bike handling and race tactics when I raced very occasionally long ago. Today, when I am commuting or using my bike for transportation, my racing experience and skills can be quite valuable for survival... ;-)