Monday, February 13, 2012

Carbon Equivalence

In less than a month, I'm jumping on a plane to South Africa for the first round of the mountain bike World Cup!  Not only will this race kick off the international race season, it will also kick off the final Olympic Qualification period, which ends on May 22nd after World Cup #4 in La Bresse, France.  The qualification period consists of FOUR rounds of the World Cup:

  1. Pietermaritzburg, South Africa - March 17th
  2. Houffalize, Belgium - April 14th
  3. Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic - May 13th
  4. La Bresse, France - May 20th

Speaking of race schedules, it's always fun to map out the season.  As the jet-propelled crow flies, here is (approximately) my itinerary for the season:

View 2012 Race Season in a larger map

Assuming there-and-back again travel, this track will cover at least 75,000 miles, or roughly three times around the globe.  While cycling is a staple environmentally sustainable transportation, it's ironic to consider how many resources are required to complete a high-end competitive cycling season.  With all of my globetrotting to these events, I'm making a hefty contribution to the transportation sector CO2 emissions:
By coincidence, I can theoretically feel better about [maybe] breaking even on my carbon emissions through the work I do with Ridgeline Energy developing large wind and solar projects.  So far, we have 200 megawatts of wind operating in Idaho.  Based on the EPA's carbon equivalence emissions factor of 6.8956 x 10-4 metric tons CO2 / kWh , that renewable energy should offset approximately 411 metric tons of CO2 equivalent per year.  With 35 people in the company, that gives me a personal share of around 11.7 metric tones of CO2 equivalent per year.  The calculations get pretty foggy at that point, but roughly speaking, all of my travel alone should barely fit within that limit.  Yikes!

Anyway...back to the task at hand...

The eight men on the and nine women on the Olympic Long Team will be focusing intently on burning serious fossil fuels to get to those World Cup events in order to secure a starting spot at the London Olympics.  Only 2 men and 2 women will be selected from the Long Team, and that selection will be based primarily on individual performances in these four rounds of the World Cup.  Game ON!

Needless to say, the preparation for these events is already well underway.  Most racers, including myself, turned off the gas for a bit after last year's World Championships in September, but due to the early start of the Olympic year, resumed training in November.  

I've arrived at this point in career mostly under my own direction on training.  I have receiving some very formative guidance from good friend and fellow Kona lifer Erik Tonkin and Team S&M.  With a goal like the Olympics, I am working formally with the top-notch trainers at Herriott Sports Performance in Seattle.  Their list of clients for strength and conditioning includes 2011 Tour de France Champion Cadel Evans and his BMC Race Team!

A corner of the HSP Training Facility

Trainers for when music, movies and fans are more inspiring than the cold rain and snow

Power Squared: Weights + PowerBreather

Lactate Threshold testing - pain face not due to prick of blood from the ear

  And of course...LOTS of bike riding.  Most recently, a great block of offroad riding in Bellingham, WA in Kona's backyard, and a few beautiful days at home in the Columbia River Gorge:

The Syncline near Lyle, WA
My dad is still good for an off-the-couch surge to the top of the Syncline and singletrack riding all day

It doesn't get much better than a sunny day in the Gorge...

Stay tuned for this weekend's 24 Hours of Old Pueblo in Tucson, AZ.  It's a major event for Kona, and I'll be joining the team (Barry, Kris, Sean, Slaven, and others) for a long day in the desert.

Thanks for reading.  



  1. Swing for the fences, man. So looking forward to watching you this year.

  2. Yo Spence, great to see the photos.... Oh, and I love the CO2 section; in the event of a photo finish can't that serve as the tiebreaker for London? Keep up the hard work, we're cheering for you from CT.