Testing some bottle setups on a bike without aero tubes all round.
Getting to be first in the Wind Tunnel.In the 2 days before the inaugral Multisports Wind Tunnel camp, Heather and myself had the opportunity to spend many, many hours refining the final protocols and getting to test everything we could think of. After all these years of listening and reading about what the always illusive ‘they’ expound with regard to drag and the most aero set-ups….we got to try it first hand. Most importantly we got to test it in, without doubt the first of its kind, wind tunnel set-up.
Where else in the world can an athlete be pedaling freely and be looking at a projection that is constantly reading out power output, drag, heartrate, cadence, wind speed, cycling speed, and the all important watts over drag ratio. Do this not only in a simulated direct headwind, but at varying degrees of crosswind. Once we got going, it was infectious…the amazing innovators down at Allied Aerospace had a hard getting us out of there. Lets try it with no bottles on the frame, bottles on the back, drinking system on the front, regular helmets, aero helmets, tilt head down, look straight ahead, regular bike jersey, tight fitting tops, elbows wide, elbows narrow………and on and on. This was before we even got to trying the different selection of race wheels in varying degrees of headwinds and side winds.
One thing that was very clear from our many hours in tunnel. Like most everything else, the optimal setup can be very individual. What works and cuts a lot of drag for one is not the case for another. Some of the broader more interesting things we found…
-Heather must be the only person who has a drag reading that goes down when she starts pedaling. Talk about perfect shoulder/elbow width on her aero bars.
-Cutting drag often causes power output to drop…the most important value to watch is always the watts over drag ratio.
-Aero helmets can make a big difference BUT not all aero helmets are created equal, in fact there are some that are worse than a regular helmet.
-On a regular round tube bike a water bottle on the seat tube cuts down on drag.
-On an all aero tube bike frame water bottle cages on the frame are not the best idea….it is better to put them behind you, preferably as close together as possible.
-The front drinking systems are not as bad as they may look…in fact the trade off on maintaining good hydration over a long race may be beneficial.
-Keeping elbow width in line with quads is by far the best, even though wider may be more comfortable. That was the single biggest change that impacted my readings, other than an aero helmet
-ALWAYS have your legs at the 3o’clock/ 9 o’clock position when coasting.
-.On the wheels, there is no doubt that the tri-spoke style wheels are better in any type of wind, other than a completely direct headwind (which is not something that happens all that often in the real world).
These are just a few general findings that were very obvious to a lay athlete like myself without having the data completely broken down and analysed. With all the little changes and refinements, the impact over a long event can certainly add up to many minutes of basically free time….and lets face it who doesn’t like something for free.