In Fast Freddie Nietzsche’s own words, he promotes the notion of the Will To Power by stating, "Physiologists should think before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to discharge its strength — life itself is will to power; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent results"
Originally, Nietzsche 's name for this concept was "Discharge Your Strength" but he quickly changed it to "Will To Power" after he started getting some off-color responses and DNA donor inquiries.
Anyway, all "Jens Voigt as Ubermensch" philosophizing aside, Nietzsche helps us in the cycling world to understand the true importance of power and our natural desire to exert it. Interestingly, while I have not been able to locate any data on the German philosopher’s wattage numbers, it is said that his VO2 Max was phenomenal. And his famous nihilist quote “God is dead” was reportedly uttered in triumph after thrashing his training partners in a particularly brutal session of climbing intervals.
But speaking of wattage and power…I thought now would be a good time to put James Watt’s legacy into a greater scientific context so that we may better understand just how weak we all are. The term “Watt” is far simpler to unwrap than “Power” (which has more connotations than you can imagine) so let’s look at what this unit of energy, equal to one joule per second, really is.
An organization that I am involved with manufactures laser systems which have peak pulse powers on the order of >1 Terawatt, so consider this the conclusion to the earlier entry about Time that confirmed how slow we all are. For reference, a Terawatt is equal to 1 trillion watts. As Snoop says, “Don’t get mad…I’m only being real.”
A Few Examples...
60 W – The power of a typical household light bulb.
232 W – Average power output of Floyd Landis during the 2005 Tour de France.
379 W – Average power output of Floyd Landis while placing 6th in the final TT of the 2005 Tour de France.
430 W – Average power output of Ondrej Sosenka while covering a UCI record 30.8 miles in one hour.
745.7 W – 1 Horsepower.
1.39 kW – Per capita average power use in the U.S. in 2003.
1.7 kW - Approximate power output during the final sprint of a typical Tour de France flat stage.
Megawatt (1 Million Watts):
2.5 MW – Peak power output of a Blue Whale.
10.3 MW – Electrical power output of Togo.
190 MW – Peak power of a Nimitz Class aircraft carrier.
Gigawatt (1 Billion Watts):
2.074 GW – Peak power generation of Hoover Dam.
3 GW – Approximate peak power of world’s largest nuclear reactor.
12.7 GW – Average electrical power consumption of Norway in 1998.
Terawatt (1 Trillion Watts):
1 TW – Approximate peak power of femtosecond laser pulse.
1.7 TW – Average electrical power consumption of the world in 2001.
3.327 TW – Average total (gas, electricity, etc) power consumption of the U.S. in 2001.
13.5 TW – Average total power consumption of the human world in 2001.
50 to 200 TW – Rate of heat energy released by a hurricane.
Chuckawatt (1 Quadrillion Watts):
1 CW – Average power unleashed by a Chuck Norris round-house kick.
So…now we know a little more about Wattage. I don’t have the schematics for constructing a Wattage Cottage yet but I think I may wait to build one until they produce a power meter for my bike that measures Chuckawatts. So far, Jens Voigt is the only known cyclist with a CW rating and he ripped the bottom brackets out of a dozen Cervelos before they could verify the result.
But that’s a story for another time…