As part of Harvard Business School’s Student Sustainability Associates (SSAs) Energy Reduction Campaign, three SSAs organized an indoor cycling competition to demonstrate the value of wattage (or output on a stationary bike) as it relates to the wattage produced by different types of light bulbs (such as incandescent, CFL, and LEDs).

Here's their guide for hosting your own indoor cycling energy competition:

Looking for a way to combine some athletic competition with energy reduction education? Just follow the five easy steps below to make it happen!

1. Find a studio to host the event

Contact the gym manager to find a mutually convenient time, make sure there is an instructor available to lead the cycling class, and review the logistics and set-up of the classroom.

2. Recruit riders!

Since this was an event targeted at first-year HBS students, we publicized the events to each of the 10 first-year sections in order to get two riders from each section. Splitting up the room into two or three groups would probably be the most effective way to run the event, but it will also depend on the number of bikes available and how the instructor wants to run the class.

3. Come early to set up

This will vary depending on the size and layout of the bikes in the room, but we split the room in half and labeled the bikes with each section’s letter. Each section had one rider on the left side of the room and one rider on the right side of the room to make the sprints easier to organize.

4. Ride

After making sure riders are properly set up on their bikes and know how to use the equipment, have riders start their machines and begin with a five-minute warm-up. The next 20 minutes will be sprinting. One half of the room sprints for two minutes while the other half rides lightly. After two minutes, the group that was sprinting will cool down for two minutes while the other half of the room sprints. Repeat five times. Cool down and stretch at the end for 5-10 minutes.

5. Tally up average wattage over the first 25 minutes

Make sure riders stop their machines at the end of the sprinting and before the cool-down period. Document the average wattage for each rider, making sure to note their section along with their wattage. Add up the total average wattage for each section and convert those values into the equivalent hours of light for each type of light bulb (See website for conversion factors used). Contact all the SSAs to announce results to each of their sections!


Results: Students cycled for 30 minutes learning that they had created enough energy to power 631 LEDs. Check out video from the competition: