This image and its ilk bothers me to no end. This is a profile of the 9th stage of the Tour de France*.

(image adapted from letour.fr)

So I had this simple little post in mind about the **Tour de France** and **biking** and **elevation** and **distance** and it would wrap up neatly into a little Pythagorean Theorem lesson. I start looking around for nice little diagrams much like this one, showing the distance and elevation. The idea was going to be simply, “*find the absolute distance the bikers travel in this particular stage.”*

But it turns out **these diagrams are a sham**. An absolute sham. You see, the x-axis *already does* represent the absolute distance. Take this stage, for example. Above is the “cross section” of the stage. And here’s the actual route.

Note the **exact same distance peddled**. So x-axis *is* in actual distance peddled, not simply the horizontal distance traveled, as any proper diagramer should do. I suppose it’s more helpful for the bikers to know the absolute distance they have to travel, but it’s …. it’s….. it’s… just *wrong*. In retrospect, I did sort of think these slopes seemed a tad steep….

So we have a **new task.**