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CultureLove & Humor

Who would win in a 100: Usain Bolt or a top sprint cyclist?

The Wild File: Runners vs. Cyclists


A. This one sparked a heated debate among the geeks at Outside HQ. The case for Bolt: He's the Lightning Bolt! In his most recent world-record-obliterating 100 (9.58 seconds), Bolt topped out at a mind-boggling 27.79 mph at 80 meters. The case for the cyclist: He's on a bike. A world-class track rider on a fixed single-speed typically takes between nine and 11 seconds to complete a 200-meter race, but in competition they get a "flying" start. To settle our debate, we turned to the University of Utah's Jim Martin, a leading cycling biomechanist, who was nice enough to simulate a head-to-head race between Bolt and 2002 world sprint champion Sean Eadie. Martin used the measured power and aerodynamic drag Eadie produced during a 2002 race, accounted for the cyclist's presumed slower reaction time at the start, then projected a 100-meter dash against Bolt's 9.58 time. Result: Eadie by a spoke! The cyclist would pass a slightly fatiguing Bolt at 89.7 meters and would finish the sprint in 9.42 seconds. Which we find only slightly disappointing at the rate he's going, Bolt should be running a 9.40 by summer.

Bolt versus Cyclist Chart

Bolt versus cyclist

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Filed To: BikingRunning