Cargo Bike Crit Race Report: With a Power Meter

As is the case when signing up for most races, you usually think it’s a good idea. In hindsight, about 75% of the way through said race, you usually regret your life choices.

When I signed up for the cargo bike race, there wasn’t a lot of information. Aside from knowing the starting location and time, it wasn’t clear how long said race would be, or what the rules would be. All I knew was that electric cargo bikes were allowed, and perhaps encouraged. This probably should have been my first clue that significant pain and suffering would lie ahead. After all, if something sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

And thus, my first introduction to cargo bike racing in the Netherlands. This event was put on by a combination of Ride Out and Rondes van Amsterdam. It included kids races, adult regular crit races, and yes…a cargo bike race.

I had seen various Instagram snippets of cargo bike races elsewhere in Europe, but in most cases, those races were usually using more lightweight messenger-style cargo bikes, rather than the 45KG/100lbs beasts that are everyday cargo bikes intended for transporting children, Christmas Tree’s, and BBQ’s. Whereas this race was all about the everyday Mom or Dad pedaling up to the starting line and racing for what we’d assumed would be a relatively short distance.

I was wrong. We were all wrong.

We being all of the racers, since none of us seemed to know ahead of time, and all of us seemed to assume this was like a 1-2 lap sort of rodeo. Also, in this case, ‘we’ includes The Girl, seen here as well:


(Both this and the main thumbnail photo taken by Bernadette Zevenhuizen)

As it would turn out, this race was a nearly 30-minute affair with my average heart rate at almost 180bpm, and average wattage closing in on 300w. And how do I know that it was 300w? Well, I fitted power meter pedals to the cargo bike, of course. Then I added some $20 snap-in flat inserts atop that to keep things easy to pedal in regular street shoes (And since so many of you asked when I first showed this: Here’s the LOOK Keo variant, Shimano SPD-SL variant, and SPD variants):

GarminPedalsFlats GarminPedals

But of course, all those details are up in the video, along with plenty of hilarity. This is one of those things (pain and suffering) that’s just better experienced on video. Or, on Strava.



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  1. GLT

    GC gave you a Training Effect of 3.6, so that must not have been an “A” event on your schedule.

  2. JAMES

    It’s the crazy things you do in life that keep you sane. :)

  3. Paris

    its 300w including the help from the electric motor (is contributing to your pedal stroke – not the full 250w but there is some transfer – I have test it with Garmin rally)


    • Once you clear 25KPH, the motor cuts out. It’s all on you. The 300w is direct read from the power meter in the pedals (not from the bike), meaning, that’s what I actually have to put out. Even if there was assist, it wouldn’t change that figure.

    • Andreas

      But that shouldn’t matter for a pedal based power meter? If it was a rear hub power meter, sure, but the pedals measure the power you put on the pedals and not what power is put on the street by you and the motor?

    • TriskeLion

      This. Why I have fitted Garmin XC200 powermeters to my Ti-Fly trike (Shimano EP8 motor and Rohloff fitted at rear). This way I can monitor any deterioration (or improvement) in my leg strength; important to me post removal of a spinal cord tumour. I am happy with my resting HR of 45bpm, blood pressure 100/60 but I can’t feel the effort my legs make … hence power-meters on a tadpole eTrike. Also took your advice on the Garmin HRM-Pro, Garmin Venu Plus and Garmin 1040 Solar (I swam against your advice on the new Garmin camera/radar/light, suits my requirements perfectly)

  4. Chris Capoccia

    Next year you need to find / build some cargo bike more ridiculous than that grille and ride it around to make everyone laugh. forget about power and winning and just go for LOLs

  5. I need more info than this. What was the bike count here? I want to know which manufacturer is leading in the world of front loader bike racing. Also, I haven’t finished the video yet, but does the guy with a bbq serve a meal at the end?

    I want to do one of these with my Supermarche now. I don’t even have an e-assist on mine! (its way too flat in New Orleans to need that)

  6. chris benten

    You need Peanuts in the box!

    • Paul S.

      That was my thought, too. The race should give some serious time bonuses if you have kids in the box.

    • Some of us were actually discussing this at the start. I’d have been game for it. And almost every one of the competitors had kids there (competing shortly before in the kids race).

      I know some other cargo bike races competitor’s pickup tires or such, which again, I think would actually make it a bit more fun.

  7. Greg

    Did some ex pro racer smoke everyone in first?

  8. JimC

    Can’t help but feel they were missing out on a trick here: make everyone stop each lap and add another kilo of weight to the cargo area. Looks good though!

  9. Daoud

    but … did you win?!

  10. Thanks for a nice cargo race review! It was a great day!!!

  11. fl33tStA

    OMG, fantastic!

  12. Volker

    A new niche in the market: Tour de Cargo :)

  13. fiatlux

    Looks like it was a lot of fun!
    Reminds me a bit of pedal car (‘cuistax’) races that are somewhat popular in Belgium, and so exhausting that they are only feasible with very short relays.

  14. Phil S

    Hi Ray
    I’ve thought about adding some flat attachments to my Garmin Rally XC pedals but I assumed it would destroy power accuracy.
    Do you think the power measurement is still accurate with these flat attachments?

  15. Grows

    Ray, what about Garmin Forerunner 255 Complete Beginners Guide & Features Overview, just like you did for 955? I’m waiting for it :D

    • Roman

      You can definitely use that one from 955, most parts are relevant for 255 as well!

      You can consider features of 255 as a subset of 955 features, so just skip: touchscreen, training readiness, maps, solar and stamina.

    • Yup, it’s all shot, and Bobbie finished editing it yesterday. I just need to go through and add a few screenshots and ensure all is good. I could see it going out tomorrow.


  16. Dirk

    We tuned our Urban Arrow with a Rohloff Speedhub. With a range of 520% we can now easily go faster while still being able to climb our steep hills with to kids loaded.

  17. gingerneil

    When you’re out of breadth at the end of the ‘free’ lap… you know its going to be a fun race!
    Loved the ad too – full marks for that one!

  18. Bruce Burkhalter

    Honestly, I thought the most impressive part was a perfect ad copy read on the last lap. :-)

  19. rich

    Ray, that look like a a lot of fun. Just curious did you also wear the Whoop 4.0 ? If so was the data close to what Garmin had ? I’m still on the fence about keeping the 4.0 and using the Epix 2 daily.

    • Yup, it was pretty close. In general, Whoop 4.0 does reasonably well these days. It shows my max HR as 185, and the average a bit lower, as it seemed to start recording slightly earlier. But that makes sense.

      That said, once you get Training Readiness and such on the Epix 2 (very shortly), I’d struggle to see how Whoop is providing better or more actionable data.

  20. Lachlan Brown

    Ray was putting out massive watts but hardly making any progress through the field. Was it because of the athletic quality of the opposition or equipment choices?
    Did The Girl lead the women’s peloton home?

    • Essentially, everyone is equalized, while concurrently being capped. All but I think two bikes were Urban Arrows, and even the non-Urban Arrows were all limited to the same battery assist speed cap (25KPH). So essentially, the only wiggle room was speeds above 25KPH, which for virtually all of us got us to about 30-31KPH. And then when it comes to cornering an Urban Arrow, anyone who’s lived in Amsterdam long enough has that down to a science, so we’re al kinda equal there too.

      In a nutshell, this race largely came down to placement coming off the Neutral lap – a fact I did not at all fully appreciate until some laps later. The only caveat being the Bullit bikes are massively lighter (depending on model, as little at 50lbs, so half the weight), so that gives them a distinct advantage in terms of keeping their bikes at that 30KPH or so.

      As noted above, I think this race would actually be a bit more challenging/fun with a pit-stop to pickup cargo and drop-off cargo (some other races do it with tires). That means it’s less about just a sustained burn at 180bpm trying to hold the realistic max speed most of us can hold it on flat-ground (30-31KPH), and adds in a bit of technique challenge to it.

    • Oh, and yup, The Girl was the first female across the line. Woot!

    • Paul S.

      You might have led with that…

    • Well, she was a bit bashful of that fact, since there were only two women. 😂

    • Paul S.

      So she could have lost? Take the win, Bobbie.

  21. Michael Husband

    Speaking of power meters, we’re you ever able to test the accuracy of the new Shimano 12-speed power meter?

  22. Art

    Ray, thanks for the post, that’s amazing!
    Are you riding it again next year with The famous Pizza Oven installed on your bike? You can put aerobars to compensate additional drag from the oven by being “aero” youself

  23. That’s amazing! Thinking about getting our first cargo bike here in Vienna, Austria – and getting rid of our car. I assume you can recommend the Urban Arrow?

  24. Richard Cross

    What’s the ground clearance like on the Urban Arrow? I have a Reise & Muller Packster4 70 and I keep grounding pedals or frame in the corners. With clearance issues like that, I haven’t even bothered to try and take it on the local pumptrack ;-)

    It has an Enviolo Automatiq gearbox which is great for whizzing around town, but I think it would be a disaster for Cargobike Crit racing as it is only 83% efficient. That’s a lot of power to lose. Speaking of power, the Bosch Cargoline motor has a built-in powermeter.

    • Hmm, not sure off-hand (and travelling at the moment), but I’ve never had clipping issues before on the pedals. I once, many years ago did clip the front leading edge of the frame on a corner, but took a lot of effort.