Cycling Science Awards 2012 – early nominations

Thanks to all who are looking through the science papers and stories they’ve enjoyed in the last year to find the best.

Nominations for the Cycling Science award 2012 are open and the first suggestions are interesting and varied, covering a wide range of topics. Nominations are still open so please do submit them via the reply box below or by tweeting @cyclingscience1

Among them is a very recent paper by a group of Scandinavian researchers and published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, a journal focusing on how elite athletes can be become, well, even more elite.

The paper is called Cyclists’ Improvement of Pedaling Efficacy and Performance After Heavy Strength Training and it concludes that “adding heavy strength training to usual endurance training in well-trained cyclists improves pedaling efficacy during 5-min all-out cycling performed after 185 min of cycling.”

Theoretical model of the potential implications of using vs. not using a helmet on speed and risk perception according to the risk compensation theory (left panel) and population shift theory (right panel).

The next award nomination involves a switch from body to mind. It’s a fascinating investigation into whether cyclsts who wear helmets compensate for the enhanced safety by taking greater risks.

Apart from this novel approach to studying the effectiveness of laws that make wearing helmets compulsory, the paper is accompanied by some attrractive and informatve graphics.

Indeed, the enduring cycle campaign group Spokes, in Edinburgh and Lothian, Scotland, used the conclusions from the paper in its submission to the inquiry of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group in Westminster UK earlier this year.

The conclusions will delight those who object to making helmets mandatory: “…part of the reason why helmet laws do not appear to be beneficial is that they disproportionately discourage the safest cyclists.”

The final of our early nominations indicates the breadth of reading of cycling science readers. “The Bar Sinister: Does Handlebar Level Damage the Pelvic Floor in Female Cyclists?” is a paper that went viral after it was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in March 2012.

No doubt it gained such popular interest because it analyses a problem that is relevant to at least half of the world’s population that has ever sat on a bicycle saddle. And it pulls no punches.

Everybody knows that bicycle saddles are uncomfortable but this team was able, though intriguing methods, to confirm that “Handlebars positioned lower than the saddle were significantly associated with increased perineum saddle pressures and decreased genital sensation in female cyclists.”

That’s the lot for this posting. There’ll be more soon.

If you have come across science research this year that is relevant to cycling and want to nominate it for an award, please send us the details by commenting below or by tweeting @cyclingscience1

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