How hard is it to race bikes up mountains? And how much do the mountains penalize body weight? Consider this: Fabian Cancellara is one of the world's strongest bike riders. No one can match him for power on the flats. Last Friday, Fabian Cancellara was in the yellow jersey. Then, the race started going up hill. After today's stage, just three days of racing later, Cancellara is in 99th place, half way down the General Classification and more than one hour behind race leader Andy Schleck. Why has he fallen so far so fast? It's simple: Cancellara weighs about 180 pounds; the guys who have passed him on the mountain climbs weigh 40-50 pounds less. If you want to get a visceral sense of the difference, try riding or even just walking up a long, fairly steep hill at a good pace; then, try doing the same thing carrying a 40-pound bag of sand on your shoulders.
I can empathize with Fabian. I know how it feels every time I chase my smaller riding buddies up the short but steep hills where I live.