Fun With Calories

Tearing up Hilton Hill and burning up Calories.

Numbers in and of themselves don’t really mean much. Except for 42. That means everything. Large numbers really have this issue. Humans just aren’t built to comprehend large numbers.

So when I saw the total Calories that I’ve burned while cycling this year, I thought “What does that mean?”

Two Notes: First, I’m using Strava to calculate the Calories burned on my rides. It’s using my bike weight and my current weight (which I adjust every few weeks on my profile). It doesn’t count weather (heat, cold, wind), gear weight (more water, less spare tubes, etc.), or group riding (pacelines / drafting).

Second, I’m using nutritional or food Calories (capital “C”), scientifically known as a kilocalorie. For those that don’t know, 1 calorie (lower-case “c”) is the energy required to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1° Celsius (4.184 joules). That’s a pretty small number, so when talking food, we multiply it by 1,000. So one nutritional Calorie (again, capital “C” for distinction purposes) is the energy required to increase the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1° Celsius.

Assuming Strava’s done their homework and the numbers they come up with each ride are pretty good, for 2012 I’ve burned… *drumroll please*

137,589 Calories!

That looks like a butt-load of Calories. It’s a pretty big number. And looking at it, I really didn’t know what to make of it. So, I started doing some research to get an idea of what all those Calories mean.

  • 4.37 gallons of gasoline (which in California right now is equal to what, $100?)
    • Assuming a car gets 20 mpg, that’s 87.4 miles.  I’ve ridden over 40x that distance this year. Talk about efficiency!
  • 39 pounds of fat. No, I haven’t lost 39 pounds this year.
  • 137 Carl’s Jr. Double Western Bacon Cheeseburgers *drool*
  • 60 days worth of eating (for me)
    • About 16.4% of the year; my caloric maintenance is about 2,300 Cal/day
  • 917 cans of Pepsi
    • 38- 24 packs. Enough to build a nice fort.
  • 160 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity.
    • That’s enough to run a 56″ LCD TV 24 hours a day for 25 days

Know what? After looking up all these conversions and equations… I’ve come up with only one thing that all those Calories mean. It means I’ve had a lot of fun riding my bike. 🙂