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How the heart reacts at 200mph (BBC)

Discussion in 'Research, Studies, and Data' started by Nightowl, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. #1 Nightowl, Jun 4, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2013
    How the heart reacts at 200mph

    27 May 2013

    How does the human heart react to the most extreme forms of stress?

    Using sports science technology, three very different riders at the International North West 200 motorbike festival, put this question to the test.

    With top speeds hitting 208mph, on closed public roads around the coast of Northern Ireland, the North West 200 is one of the fastest road races in the world. The motorbikes are often just inches from each other.

    Three competitors were fitted with a heart strap and wireless sensor to measure their heart rate over every inch of the course

    The riders were 'the Champion' Alastair Seeley, 33, 'the Novice' Gareth Keys, 22, and 'the Veteran' Jeremy McWilliams, 49.


    Harder, faster, stronger
    Cardiac function is related to fitness and age. The better your heart is at pushing blood around the body, the less relative stress it will be under when your heart rate goes up.

    Dr Roe [snip] considers emotional stress to be among the main factors increasing heart rate for competitors in road racing.

    "How stressful you interpret the situation to be would contribute to how fast your heart rate goes," he said.

    Good core muscular strength is vital in road racing.

    "A rider's core muscles have to withstand the forces of acceleration and braking and after a number of laps those muscles get tired. Tired muscles are harder to control and can lead to more mistakes later in the race," said Dr Roe.

    Minimising the risk of mistakes is imperative in a road racing [snip].

    "Human reaction time is between 150 and 300 milliseconds. If a rider is travelling at 200mph, he is travelling 90 metres per second. In the one-fifth of a second he takes to react, he will have travelled about 18 metres. This means that if anything unexpected happens within 20 metres of a rider, a high speed collision can be unavoidable."

    The results
    Results of the heart rate test were taken on each of the rider's first laps of evening racing, when the competitors had to battle difficult conditions after a typical torrential downpour at the North West 200.

    The Champion, Alastair Seeley, had the lowest heart rate, with an average beats per minute (bpm) of 134, which is 71% of his maximum heart rate. There were minimal 'spikes' (moments of sharply increased output) throughout the lap.

    "The Champion clearly didn't perceive the situation as stressful. He is an 'ice man'. An average bpm of 134 equates to a brisk walk for most people, and his breathing techniques may well have helped him."

    By contrast, the Novice, Gareth Keys, had an average heart rate of 185bpm.

    The Veteran, Jeremy McWilliams, is somewhere in between the two riders, with an average heart rate of 164 bpm.

    • Like Like x 1
  2. Not surprising
  3. Shane Gould, champion swimmer of yesteryear, has a large heart and a very low heart rate which was attributed to her having winning ability.

    Champion riders are athletes too, absolutely. Good to see the data along those lines.
  4. Far Lap would've been a kick-arse TT racer :D
    • Funny Funny x 1
  5. Agree. :)
    Another thing that came to mind ... discussion occasionally crops up on what it means to ride 70-75% within own personal limits, thought the info on the champ might offer a little additional insight/perspective into that.