Carbon frames and wheels, electronic shifting, tubeless tyres – in cycling, there has been a never ending string of innovation in recent years and decades.
Today’s average road bike still has two wheels and a diamond frame, but is totally different in almost any detail from a bike 50 or 60 years ago.
However, when it comes to speed, does innovation really matter?
This question recently crossed my mind when I stumbled upon the historic results of the iconic Paris-Brest-Paris audax – a 1200 km cycling event that is older than the modern Olympic games.
While it was initially run as a professional race, it has been turned into an amateur event after the second world war and since 1948 has been taking place every four years.
The basic rules have not fundamentally changed: you ride from Paris to Brest and back, have to pass a number of control towns, and the maximum time limit is 90 hours.
With about 10000 meters of climbing, the event is neither particularly hilly nor really flat.
So what is the overall trend with regard to finishing times over the past 71 years? Continue reading “Why don’t seven decades of cycling innovation show up in PBP speeds?”