Pointing at the TV and saying "I can do that" is every amateur athlete's favorite pastime. But even the most ignorant of novice cyclists would hesitate to say the same about the Tour de France, a colossal, dangerous ride that challenges the greatest athletes in the world.
Nonetheless, the daily roadie or weekend rider might still hold a small dose of optimism that he or she could complete the mammoth-sized race that traverses mountains, cobblestones and miles upon miles of the French countryside.
Let's see if you have what it takes to complete the biggest cycling race in the world.
Average Speed1 of 8
Professional cyclists will average faster than 25 mph on flat terrain at this year's Tour. How fast do you go when whipping around neighborhood streets on your road bike? If you're an average cycling enthusiast, you likely average 17 mph on your daily rides. Pros also average an extra speedy 30 mph during time trials.
Could you complete this year's 14-km (8.6-mile) time trial in under 18 minutes?
Miles2 of 8
Tour cyclists will complete more than 2,200 miles in 23 days with a mere two days of rest. And cyclists still ride two or three hours on those rest days. That's more than a century (100-mile) ride per day. A dedicated road cyclist will average 200 to 250 miles per week, well below a Tour rider's 770 miles.
Can you ride 770 miles in a week?
Average Power (Watts)3 of 8
At threshold (sustainable power), a Tour de France cyclist will produce more than 400 watts. Conversely, you likely produce fewer than 200 watts of power at threshold. A sprinter like Mark Cavendish, meanwhile, produces more than 1,400 watts in his dash for the line. If you're an average cyclist pushing your legs as hard as you can, you could likely produce 800 watts over a short five-second span.
Could you sustain a 400-watt output for an hour straight?
Consumption4 of 8
Tour de France riders burn 5,000 calories during each stage of the Tour. To keep weight on, this requires a great deal of caloric intake. The average Tour de France cyclist consumes 8,000 calories per day, which comes in a combination of snacks, drinks, pasta, yogurt and fruits. Leading up to the first day of the Tour, cyclists will eat up to 30 plates of pasta over the course of two days.
Could you consume 8,000 calories in one day? (If you think, "Heck yes!", you'd probably be surprised how difficult this could be.)
Avoiding Crashes5 of 8
Every stage presents a grave danger to its participants: high-speed crashes. "When one cruises 2,200 miles in a tight peloton with risk-taking riders, accidents are sure to happen. Between 1997 and 2011, more than 16.8 percent of riders abandoned the tour. While some of these abandonments were due to failures to finish within the time limit, we can attribute many to injuries sustained from accidents. And many cyclists involved in accidents continued the race despite sustaining debilitating injuries.
Could you continue to ride despite bruises, cuts and scrapes to your knees and elbows?
Stage Fright6 of 8
More than 12 million spectators line the streets of France and more than 3 billion people watch from home.
Can you ride with that many eyes on you?
Climbing Alpe d'Huez7 of 8
The most famous climb in the Tour, and now an annual fixture, Tour de France riders tackle this climb in less than 40 minutes. The average cyclist will take twice as long to complete the 13.8-km climb at one hour, 20 minutes. Such a poor time will put you at risk of failing to meet the time limit.
Can you climb Alpe d'Huez in under one hour?
If you answered no to just one of these questions, you could not complete the Tour de France. (Sorry!)