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Good Question: How Do Cyclists Burn Off 6,000 Calories?

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Imagine working 30 hours a week and spending all of it on a bicycle.

“Our team will race 8 or 9 months out of the year, and then the time outside of the season is spent preparing,” said Pro Bicycle Racer Jonas Carney.

Carney’s pro racing team is sponsored by OptumHealth of Golden Valley, and this week they are participating in the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minneapolis. When Carney’s team trains, they can ride up to 600 miles a week.

“During a big 600 mile week they are just eating all the time,” said Carney.

And that means thousands of calories just to keep up, on average, about 6,000 calories a day. Non-cyclists take in about 2,000 a day, three times less than that amount.

To put it in perspective, a female black bear consumes 4,000 calories a day when she isn’t getting ready to hibernate. Six thousand calories is the same as eating eight and-a-half Big Mac’s in one day, or 63 apples in a day or 120 chocolate chip cookies.

Or on a smaller scale, you could just eat 3,000 tic tacs. It would be tough to stomach, but these riders go a different route.

“It’s a lot of carbohydrates, a lot of pasta and rice and that kind of thing,” said Professional Cyclist Reid Mumford.

At the Nature Valley Grand Prix, Mumford’s team will eat while they race.

“You are just kind of eating the whole time you are on the bike. But then you have a big breakfast and a big dinner every night,” said Mumford.

The more they train, the bigger the appetite and vice versa. One thing they know for sure- they couldn’t eat like is if they were in any other line of work.

“I would be less chiseled. We will say less chiseled,” said Mumford.

The OptumHealth team has eight riders, and each has a different job. They say it’s a team sport built on individuals. 

The Nature Valley Grand Prix starts Wednesday in Minneapolis.

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