A New Take On Watts

March 17, 2011

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Watts are the holy grail for some cyclists...but do we really know what that term "watt" means? After participating in Pedal Power 2011, I have a better idea of how much power I'm pushing out on those long weekend rides.

Pedal Power (www.pedalpwr.com) is a Richmond, Virginia non-profit organization dedicated to advancing energy sustainability as a lifestyle. Its mission is "to promote a more self-sustaining lifestyle by demonstrating simple steps we can all take in reducing our energy use and impact on the environment." Ethan Seltzer, a local cycling friend of mine, started Pedal Power in 2009 as a way to educate our community on self-sustaining activities to reduce our carbon footprint.

Each year Ethan and his crew host an event where teams compete to generate the most watts on trainers. He then harnesses that energy via some cool technology. Yes, there's a competition to generate the most power but that's just half the story. The other half is that Ethan then shows us what that energy can do. This year, he invited PF Chang's to use it to cook a meal after the event. Over 20 teams participated at Endorphin Fitness, one of our favorite local bike shops in the area. I'm pleased to report that team Road Holland took a respectable 3rd place podium finish.

This kind of novel way of riding is just our style and we were glad to be a sponsor along with some other fine organizations from around the Richmond area.

Although we used most of the energy to cook, according to Ethan we generated 4,000 watts. That kind of power translates into the following real-world scenarios:

- Power a central AC system for 1.1 hours.

- Keep an oven, at 350°F, for two hours (toaster oven is a better option for small meals).

- Run an electric clothes dryer for 54 minutes (air dry your clothes!).

- Power a standard desktop computer with 19" screen for 19 hours.

I'm floored by how much energy it takes to do some very basic things. Good thing our RH jerseys don't need to go in the dryer!

Richard

Pedal Power 2011 from Road Holland on Vimeo.

 



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