Two mountain bike athletes in the 2012 Olympics had a record breaking ride before they even hit the start.
A Canadian woman and an American man were equipped with Trek's Superfly SL Pro -- which the company says is the lightest mountain bike frame in the world.
The bike frame weighs 31.7 ounces; less than 2 pounds. It's made of carbon, a stiff and durable material. Even non-Olympians can now snag the ultra-light frame; it started hitting stores in the middle of August.
But before you start dropping hints to Santa, here's the bad news: the Superfly costs $8,000.
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Yes. Eight thousand dollars.
That begs two questions. The first is, "Do I have a spare $8,000 to spend on a mountain bike?" The second is, "Do I need such a lightweight bike?"
Only you know the answer to the first question. But the answer to the second question is no. Even if you race -- even if you race in the expert category -- the answer still is no. Here are a few reasons why.
First, when mountain bikers hit the Olympic level, they've already lightened their body. Every bit of their excess body fat has been whittled away. Some male riders get down to only five percent body fat. So a lightweight bike won't make much difference if you're carrying around several pounds of "unnecessary" fat. Which, unless you spend four or five hours a day working out at an Olympic Training Center, you probably are.
Now for the science: Take two mountain bikers with equal ability and the heavier rider will be slower.
A lighter body is able to move easier through the surrounding atmosphere, eliminating some of the forces of resistance, gravity and road friction.
At the same time, it's important for a rider to balance the equation between a light body and the relatively heavy weight of muscles.
Mountain bikers usually have long and lean muscles, not the bulky kind like body builders.
But to be good, a rider must be powerful. Power is a combination of strength and speed, and it's necessary to overcome the friction generated by the forward movement of the bike.
Everything that turns on a bike creates some sort of friction. That includes tires, the chain and pedals. Building functional muscle will allow you to overcome friction much better than a lightweight bike. In addition, every pound of muscle you add to your body will require calories 24/7 -- which is why muscle tissue burns stored fat, even when you're sleeping.
Here are useful facts for building a biker's body which can put out enough power to eliminate the need for an $8,000 bike.
First, when we're talking about fat, we're talking about calories. A pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories.
Take a close look at your diet. Common sense tells you to eliminate foods like fried chicken and pizza, but there are other calorie reductions that might be less obvious. Make your meal portions slightly smaller -- only slightly, so you don't feel deprived.
Cut out the snacks; even a dozen small crackers can add up to nearly 200 calories.
Try not to eat anything within four hours of bedtime. And reduce the little things; like high calorie coffee creamers or butter and oils.
If you reduce your food intake by just 500 calories a day, you'll lose a pound in less than a week. Eliminating 500 calories isn't that hard. A Big Mac has 540 calories; a can of tuna in water has about 50 calories.
Adding a pound of muscle is harder than losing a pound of fat. On average, it takes about a month to add a pound of muscle to your body; and that's with consistent resistance work; at least three to four days a week of 40 minutes or more.
But those workouts will eliminate fat while making you stronger; and the training you do on your own bike will make you more powerful. That's even better than an $8,000 frame.