To encourage more people to start cycling on a regular basis and to highlight the health benefits of the sport, the University of Sheffield has created a giant bicycle, using eco-friendly paint in a field close to the route of the Tour.
The bicycle will also illustrate the Krebs cycle – the process by which mitochondria, the tiny “power stations” of the cells, turn food and oxygen into the energy needed for exercise. Local school children will play the part of molecules in a re-enactment of way the Krebs Cycle works on the field.
The Krebs cycle is named after Sir Hans Krebs who discovered how mitochondria produce energy while working at the University of Sheffield in 1937. Krebs identified two metabolic cycles that take food molecules, such as sugars and amino acids, and turn them into energy and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1953 for his discovery.
Dr Matt Johnson, Fellow of the Krebs Institute at the University of Sheffield, said: “The Krebs cycle is used by all aerobic organisms to generate energy and thanks to its discovery; modern endurance athletes are able to push themselves to their absolute natural limits. Today’s cyclists compete for longer periods than ever before and so understanding this process is vital.”
Dr Johnson added: “The Krebs Cycle has revolutionised our view of the metabolic process and allows the nutrition of the cyclists involved the Tour De France to be best tailored for optimal athletic performance.”
You can watch a video of Dr Matt Johnson explaining Krebs, his discovery and its role in endurance sports, here: http://www.deconstructingthetour.group.shef.ac.uk/krebs-cycle/