Archives for cycling



On Beauty and Biking

Our recent podcast “Reasons to Not Be Ugly” examined the beauty premium, as well as the “downside of ugly.”  A new paper by evolutionary biologist Erik Postma in Biology Letters highlights one more advantage of beauty: better endurance performance (in the form of faster cycling).  Bill Andrews of Discover‘s D-brief blog summarizes the study’s setup:

As the paper’s abstract explains, “Females often prefer to mate with high quality males, and one aspect of quality is physical performance.” So the more physically fit a human male is, the more human females might want to bang him. But how to test for this — and, specifically, how to test for this with the measure of physical performance being endurance, a trait not easily quantified?

Read More »



Pedaling and Charging

People multitask (in economists’ language, “engage in joint production”) in a surprising variety of ways.  A neat example appeared in Brussels Airport, with a sign saying “charge your phone and laptop.” But the charging was done by you sitting on a saddle and peddling a machine that generated the power charging your device.  This combination of activities illustrates the difficulty in classifying activities:  Was it work or was it leisure (exercise), to pick two of the major aggregates that I use in my research?  Was it an investment of time or was it consumption?  In this and many other ways, changing technology renders rapidly obsolete the categories we have created to classify things and activities.



Is a Meat-Eating Cyclist a Contradiction?

In response to James McWilliams‘s still-reverberating post about why more environmentalists don’t promote veganism, a reader named Mary writes:

I have always wondered why environmentalists are so reluctant to promote veganism, but eager to promote alternative transportation. Many residents of the U.S. are currently locked in to their car-dependent lifestyle, with large mortgages in suburbs with no safe sidewalks or bike lanes and inefficient transit. Ditching their car is logistically much more difficult to do than buying beans instead of meat at the grocery store. Currently, the infrastructure for reducing car use is lacking in many communities, though vegan foods, like beans, grains, fruits, and vegetables, are much more easily obtained.

It’s an interesting point. A few related thoughts come to mind: Read More »



From the Comments: Lay Off the Fake Car Horns

In response to our post about our Prius/”conspicuous conservation” podcast, a reader named Fred writes in to say:

If you did an analysis on your listenership, I’m pretty sure you’d find, in common with most podcasts, that consumers of audio are more likely than not mobile. Old time radio’s image of the rocking chair next to a wireless the size of a substantial piece of furniture is outdated. With podcasts especially, people are more likely to strap on their choice of pod, and listen whilst jogging, StairMastering, cycling, commuting –- it’s a very mobile listenership.

Most podcasters realised this, and when talking travel, transport or cars in particular do not use the hackneyed, clichéed, passé and superfluous sound of a car horn. For the reason that it is unmuffled by earbuds or car windows, it comes directly into the ear and announces forcibly that you are jogging or cycling into danger.

Read More »



Doping in the Tour de France

Why does Levitt find Landis’s allegations so compelling? He describes in great specificity and detail scenarios involving refrigerators hidden in closets, and the precise temperature at which the blood stored in those refrigerators had to be kept; and faked bus breakdowns during which Lance received blood transfusions while lying on the floor of the bus, etc. To make up stories of this kind, with that sort of detail, strikes Levitt as a difficult task. Read More »



Our Daily Bleg: Will Olympic Cyclists Race Against Their Own Countrymen?

We’ve been quiet on the cycling front here for quite some time, although the topic has come up many times in the past. Now a reader named Kevin O’Toole writes in with an interesting Olympics scenario, which I’ll post here in the form of a bleg. The primary question to answer is whether cycling may […] Read More »



Is There Another Way to Eliminate Doping? A Guest Post

Levitt blogged the other day about Yale Law student Aaron Zelinsky‘s proposal for ending steroid use in Major League Baseball. Now here’s an anti-doping counter-proposal from Joe Lindsey, a sports writer and blogger/contributor at Bicycling magazine. You may remember Joe from another guest post, in which he also countered an earlier Freakonomics doping post. So […] Read More »



Is This Lance Armstrong’s Year?

The wheels seem to have come off the Tour de France. This year’s race, with a ceremonial start in London, is of course absent the retired Lance Armstrong, whom Americans learned to love and the French grew to hate in seemingly direct proportion. But the race this year is also missing Floyd Landis, last year’s […] Read More »