A ride in the future

Waterloo,IA, aug 7, 2013

The day before yesterday, we visited a farm of the past. The time where everything on a farm was made by human hands assisted by horses and oxen: plowing, lifting, storing, mulching, tilling, ripping, washing, chopping etc…. The time when the settlers and their carts were happy if they made 20 miles a day through the prairie.

Today we visited the John Deere factory in Waterloo IA, the most important tractor and agricultural equipment manufacturer in the world. A ride in the present and in the future.


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Just imagine: our doped Tour de France riders – they are all, have always been, will always be- develop some 400 watts on their bikes as an average, up to 1000 watts on a time trial. This is huge when we think that we, mortal club riders, develop some 200 watts in the hills. But 400 watts is less than half a horsepower (HP) , the measurement unit used for mechanic engines. Well, the tractor engines made by John Deere develop up to 550 HP. Take 1200 Lance Armstrong, put them in front of your plow, and you will have your John Deer tractor! In other words one modern tractor develops the power that 1000 to 1500 men developed in the past. That is for the present.
Now the future: these tractors not only have AC cabins with radio stereo, GPS and heated leather sits. But they can be equipped with cameras and sensors- by the way, just like your car- and drive themselves under the surveillance of a man softly sitting at home in front of his computer screen. In other words, one aging and overweight man sitting on his chair sipping his beer can do on a modern farm within a day, the work that hundred years ago required more than thousand young stout men in their prime working hard for days and days….
Well, we cyclists are people of the past: we insist on pushing on our pedals with our 200 watts legs, and leave in the garage our powerful 200 HP automobiles. We must be crazy somehow?

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