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Most gruelling professional sport

Mar 18, 2009
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This is not a troll, but rather an opinoin gathering exercise ...

After watching endless hours of pro racing and reading/seeing interviews with pro cyclists, I still wonder if there is ANY sport that come close to cycling in pure endurance and taxing the body like cycling does.

A couple of observations (although one can argue as in other threads that all the pro's target only certain races) :

- Extremely long season (January - October)
- Races (long days in the saddle (usually 100+ miles a day in a race)
- GT Extremes - no other sport has a three week even where there are only 2 rest days and something every day
- LOTS of training miles (read somewhere that our fav pro is doing something like 30k kms JUST in training)
- All the regulatory compliances
- Extreme conditions (that is why the guys look old before their time :))

I bet there are a number of other items we can add to this list, but I think I am making my point.

(and I might get shot for this - but here is a pet peeve too:
And the IOC has SAILING as an Olympic Event? It is like driving a boat :) )

Merry Christmas to all !!!
 
Cross-country skiing is pretty intense, and can probably be compared to cycling in many ways. Norwegian cross-country skier Ole Einar Bjørndalen rode up the Alpe d'Huez a few years ago, and his time was only like 3 minutes behind the record held by Pantani, which is pretty amazing for someone who's not even practicing the sport...
 
Jul 1, 2009
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Rugby.

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Having played every game of both a Fall and Spring schedule, tournaments with multiple games per day, no play stoppage, need for continuous training, it's grueling.

Imagine crashing in every race several times, each week.

There's brilliance in both sports though because of it. Why I love 'em.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Buffalo Soldier said:
Triathlon?
Marathon running?
Cross-country skiing?
Marathon 10 km Swimming?

Yes Buffalo -

Surely I can agree with taxing on the body in all the above events BUT
- Triathlon: I have never seen a triathlon that lasts for three weeks (unless you are a slow swimmer/rider/runner). Surely regular events and the same amount of training, but in terms of competitive events, not so much
- Ultra Marathons: - Sure there are these maniacs that run across the Sahara or some desert somewhere, but that also is seven days max. And then the next event is a few weeks/months away
- Cross country skiing - Never heard of an event where there is consistent back-to-back competition.

Don't get me wrong here, I am not prphesying the cycling is the ONLY taxing, strenuous sport out there, but in sheer multi-day events plus duration, hard to beat.

Just my humble $0.02
 
Formula One... Moto GP.

A lot of sports are gruelling in their own way. Alain Prost is a good example of the fitness that F1 drivers must maintain. After retiring from motorsport he's competing at the top level of masters cycling and still places very highly in tough sportivo events such as the etape du tour against much younger riders.
 
Dec 18, 2009
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Ironman triathlon

When Lance retired and ran a marathon, he said it was the hardest thing he ever did. Now try it after swimming 2.4 miles and time trialing 112 miles before you even start your run.

This thread isn't about multi-day sports-just the most gruelling.

If you want multi-day pro sports I would nominate the 300 mile plus adventure races. No rest days and no 19 hours off each day.

mountainrun
 
A

Anonymous

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ridley said:
Yes Buffalo -

Surely I can agree with taxing on the body in all the above events BUT
- Triathlon: I have never seen a triathlon that lasts for three weeks (unless you are a slow swimmer/rider/runner). Surely regular events and the same amount of training, but in terms of competitive events, not so much
- Ultra Marathons: - Sure there are these maniacs that run across the Sahara or some desert somewhere, but that also is seven days max. And then the next event is a few weeks/months away
- Cross country skiing - Never heard of an event where there is consistent back-to-back competition.

Don't get me wrong here, I am not prphesying the cycling is the ONLY taxing, strenuous sport out there, but in sheer multi-day events plus duration, hard to beat.

Just my humble $0.02

Marathon des Sables

In terms of a once-off event - you ask Lance Armstrong (i use his name because I think is the only pro cyclist that recently run marathons) what he would prefer. The TDF or the Marathon des Sables? I think he'd pick the TDF...

The thing about the tour is that 180 guys finish it each year. A guy like Van Hummel literally struggled to finish, but most of these 'pros' finishing a GT is not the hardest thing. Winning is the hardest.

In terms of stuff like ironman. Finishing is superhuman. I would suggest finishing the TDF in the time limit is actually easier than finishing the Hawaii Ironman in the time limit.

3 weeks does not make an event 'hard', IMO, it literally just makes it 'long'.. In any TDF, the grupetto look like they could fall asleep they are so bored. Long events are not so much 'hard and intense' they are long and require focus. Ask Contador would he rather do. Race Across America in 9 days or TDF in 3 weeks? I bet he picks the 3 week, more relaxed event.

If you want a real hard nut, speak to Dean Karnazes - this guy ran 50 marathons in 50 days. His 50th was at New York (i think). He ran about 30seconds outside 3hours flat, and was just about a minute behind a certain 7-time tour winner. I think all but about 5 of his 50 marathons were between 3:30 and 4:00, which is pretty intense!
 
Jun 16, 2009
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ridley said:
- Triathlon: I have never seen a triathlon that lasts for three weeks (unless you are a slow swimmer/rider/runner). Surely regular events and the same amount of training, but in terms of competitive events, not so much

The impact of ironman distance events on the top pros' bodies is such that they're unable to do a great number of events each year - definitely not able to race as many days as a pro cyclist. As I understand it, the reason is a combination of the duration (depletion of glycogen, etc) and the impact of the running (literally the "impact") ... So perhaps the fact that no-one could physically do a three week long ironman distance triathlon makes it harder than cycling?

Also what about things like the Dakar on motorbikes? Pretty much guaranteed a fatality each year due to crashes and the finishing rate is always under 50% - and a fairly large proportion of those arrive at the end with some nasty injuries. Days are often over 12 hours long - there have been 800km+ stages, partly on roads, yes, but mainly through the dunes ... Oh, and before anyone tries to tell me that riding a motorbike is easy because you've got an engine - give it a go (especially on the dirt) for even a couple of hours and tell me what you think ...

And if we extend the use of the word "sport" to the way that the media often uses it (like in the sad fact that the fastest growing "sport" in the USA is competitive eating - honest, I didn't make that up!!), how about adding mountaineering? Combination of altitude, risk, effort, temperature and duration must put it well up there ...

As Ridley says ... just my two cents worth ...
 
The fact is that cycling is alot less straining on the body than alot of other sports are, where there is lots of running and physical contact. So the amount of time professional cyclists spend on their bikes is not directly comparable to time spent in other sports.

I don't know which sport would be the most gruelling but I'm pretty sure it's not cycling.
 
kiwirider said:
Also what about things like the Dakar on motorbikes? Pretty much guaranteed a fatality each year due to crashes and the finishing rate is always under 50% - and a fairly large proportion of those arrive at the end with some nasty injuries. Days are often over 12 hours long - there have been 800km+ stages, partly on roads, yes, but mainly through the dunes ... Oh, and before anyone tries to tell me that riding a motorbike is easy because you've got an engine - give it a go (especially on the dirt) for even a couple of hours and tell me what you think

Tougher than a GT, much higher attrition rate and as you say, sometimes it's your life not just the race.
 
Jul 23, 2009
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Adventure Racing. See what those guys put themselves through in the Primal Quest. Ridiculous. But those sports are designed to be extreme. In normal pro sports - baseball. Sometimes the sun gets in your eyes and you spill tobacco juice on your chin.
 
Jun 17, 2009
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Okay, so I used to climb a fair bit, including some fairly tough alpine rock, and I have done two full IM races and multiple half IM races, most in a respectable time...I think that I can say that neither is as tough as a stage race...Although mountaineering comes close. Triathlon racing, even the long course stuff is a piece of cake in comparison...You just stay within yourself and go. The constant surges you get in road racing kills you like nothing you do in triathlon. Yeah running a marathon hurts, and sucks and all of that, but really, even if you are fast, you just push a sustained tempo. I mean seriously, 80 year-old women, not to take anything from 80 year-old women, make the time cut-off these days. Now as for mountaineering, you get cold, hungry, scared, sometimes a little loopy, but other than humping your gear to the route, it isn't too terribly athletic (except for the really hard routes, and even then it is only for short bursts).
 
Oct 29, 2009
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Running, in the long run (pun intended :D), is far more punishing to your body than cycling because of the high impact. I played basketball for several years and was a collegiate prospect in middle school before giving it up in high school. The constant practices and training, all the running, cutting, and jumping at a young age really wore down my knees; too hard, too early. Now I can barely run 5 miles without my knees getting tender, but I could cycle a hundred and feel great afterward.

Ultimately, endurance sports are all equally as taxing in different ways. Contact sports that utilize minimal padding (Rugby, MMA, etc) require less endurance but definately a level of physical toughness many endurance athletes don't have. Could anyone imagine Contador climbing Verbier if had fallen a dozen time before even getting there. That's basically what rugby players do and they keep playing.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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mtrejt said:
Okay, so I used to climb a fair bit, including some fairly tough alpine rock, and I have done two full IM races and multiple half IM races, most in a respectable time...I think that I can say that neither is as tough as a stage race...Although mountaineering comes close. .... Now as for mountaineering, you get cold, hungry, scared, sometimes a little loopy, but other than humping your gear to the route, it isn't too terribly athletic (except for the really hard routes, and even then it is only for short bursts).
I think that you're misinterpreting my use of the term "mountaineering" ... I'm not talking about rock climbing - be it alpine or otherwise.

In NZ "mountaineering" primarily means alpine snow and ice (and yes, maybe a bit of rock thrown in, depending on the route/peak you're on) - the sort of stuff where you're often out for multiple days, typically pulling 12 hour plus days, carrying everything with you, bagging a peak or two (or more if you plan a route that includes a few traverses). The ulitmate expression of this "sport" is of course in the Himalayas ... Although by some weird quirk of human physiology, the top climbers often have relatively low VO2 (doesn't add up to me - all that altitude training and low VO2 ...), they have massive endurance. I remember climbing with a guy who was a month or two back from climbing Everest and despite the fact that I'd been doing a heap of riding, he left me for dead - and looked like he was hardly working to do so!

And as for being "hard" - one of my favourite "hard man" stories is of Doug Scott breaking both legs just near the top of Shivling (I think) in India and having to spend something like 4 days crawling down the mountain ...
:)
 
Nov 17, 2009
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I'll go with double Ironman distance triathlons.

8-mile swim, 224-mile bike and 52.4-mile run. There are two offered each year in North America. One in Quebec, one in Virginia.

The winners of these races take over 20 hours to complete. The female winner of the Quebec race in 2006 ran 14 marathons, did 4 iron man distance triathlons and was the only woman to complete the double iron man (setting a femal course record of just under 25 hours).

Of course, there is the Arch to Arc Challenge.

It begins with an 87-mile run from the Marble Arch in London to the Cliffs of Dover, then a 22-mile swim across the English Channel, followed by a 180-mile bike to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Only three men have ever finished the event, and no women.


Somehow I think that might make the Tour de france seem easy in comparison.
 
Oct 27, 2009
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Rowing is a very tough sport got to be very strong as well as having great aerobic capacity.Ever see the rowers after a race they are complete knackered.

Pro boxing must be really tough getting punched in the head and body.Some one is trying to knock you out as well,crazy then I suppose it depends who you are fighting.
 
horizon27 said:
Rowing is a very tough sport got to be very strong as well as having great aerobic capacity.Ever see the rowers after a race they are complete knackered.

Pro boxing must be really tough getting punched in the head and body.Some one is trying to knock you out as well,crazy then I suppose it depends who you are fighting.

I don't think most people realize the endurance it takes to FIGHT someone for 3 minutes, let alone 10-12 3 minute rounds. One of the most physically exhausting sports I've ever taken part of.
 
Jul 23, 2009
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ridley said:
Don't get me wrong here, I am not prphesying the cycling is the ONLY taxing, strenuous sport out there, but in sheer multi-day events plus duration, hard to beat.

Swimmers and triathletes do spend multi-day training for racing (I am sure this is true for most endurance sports). The competitions may not take as many hours but the training is probably more intense since you must peak at the race and you cannot "ride yourself into shape during the event".
 

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