Each year, the British Medical Journal publishes a 2-week Christmas Edition over the holidays:
We publish a special two-week issue of the BMJ over Christmas and New Year. We are pleased to consider all kinds of articles, including reports of original research, for this issue and particularly welcome colour illustrations.
The articles accepted for publication in the special holiday issue are typically tongue-in-cheek, and it’s been described as their “left brain issue”. Here are a few articles from past years:
- Rugby (the religion of Wales) and its influence on the Catholic church: should Pope Benedict XVI be worried?
- Frankincense: systematic review
- Billy Bunter and the obesogenic environment
- Coca-Cola douches and contraception
- Head and neck injury risks in heavy metal: head bangers stuck between rock and a hard bass
- Not becoming a communist doctor
- Back to the future: emergency departments and ancient Greek warfare
- Bumf: increasing exponentially
- The cult of the conference bag
- How to safeguard your ring in theatre
- Texting shows recovery after faint
With the above in mind, I was excited to see Dr. Jeremy Groves’ “study” on lightweight bicycles and their affect on commute times in this year’s edition. To approach his paper with the proper levity, consider this comment from the introduction: “I toyed with the idea of blinding it but, in the interest of self preservation and other road users, decided against it.”
Here’s the abstract:
Objective – To determine whether the author’s 20.9 lb (9.5 kg) carbon frame bicycle reduced commuting time compared with his 29.75 lb (13.5 kg) steel frame bicycle.
Design – Randomised trial.
Setting – Sheffield and Chesterfield, United Kingdom, between mid-January 2010 and mid-July 2010.
Participants – One consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care.
Main outcome measure – Total time to complete the 27 mile (43.5 kilometre) journey from Sheffield to Chesterfield Royal Hospital and back.
Results – The total distance travelled on the steel frame bicycle during the study period was 809 miles (1302 km) and on the carbon frame bicycle was 711 miles (1144 km). The difference in the mean journey time between the steel and carbon bicycles was 00:00:32 (hr:min:sec; 95% CI —00:03:34 to 00:02:30; P=0.72).
Conclusions – A lighter bicycle did not lead to a detectable difference in commuting time. Cyclists may find it more cost effective to reduce their own weight rather than to purchase a lighter bicycle.
This entertaining paper was clearly all for fun, though there’s certainly much more than a modicum of truth in the conclusion.