Posts Tagged ‘Nimble



A poor head-on shot of my TT position.

The world of Time Trials is really, really complex. In many ways, it’s “The Race of Truth”, but in many ways, it’s also a race of technology. The pursuit of an aerodynamic edge, be it wheels, frames, helmets, or skinsuits, really can mean the difference between hitting the podium, and missing it.

This weekend, I raced an awesome looped course, complete with rolling terrain, different types of pavement, and an increasing wind. It was incredibly fun and challenging, but when the results were posted, I had missed the money by ONE second, and I had missed the win in my category by just about a minute. Let’s play around with some numbers here and there, look at wattage values, and see if we can figure out a way for me to increase my speed and reduce my time, just by using technology.

Over the years, I’ve tried to use technology to influence my positioning on the Time Trial bike, and also to influence my purchasing decisions, so everything tends to be tilted towards that which will produce the lowest amount of drag, while still allowing me to generate adequate power to the pedals. For this event: here’s my equipment list:

  • Aluminum Cervelo P3.
  • Aerobars
  • Oval TT fork
  • Nimble Trispoke up front.
  • Bontrager Aeolus Disc Wheel in rear (2007 model?)
  • TIGHT skinsuit
  • Louis Garneau aero helmet.
  • Pearl Izumi Booties

I opted to not bring a water bottle, though honestly, I should have considered wearing my camelback with a couple of ice cubes inside, but I don’t think my performance suffered from dehydration. I drank adequately prior to the effort, knowing I would lose fluids through perspiration and respiration from the stress and the environmental conditions.

Using Golden Cheetah’s experimental “AeroLab” and also a tried-and-true program from “”, I took a section of road that was smooth and steady in its’ slope, where I knew I was in my aero position as consistently as I could remember, and I tried to determine my Coefficient of Aerodynamics, or CdA.

You try to get the lines to mesh as much as possible.

For the second image, take Frontal Area and multiply it by the Coefficient of Wind Drag. Both numbers come up close to a .265m^2, which is better known as the “HOLE” you cut through the air when you’re in a certain position. Remember, I lost 3rd place by 1 second, and I lost the victory by one minute exactly. The difference then, between 4th, which I got, and first, which we want, is about 1.8%. Thus the title of this post – a 2% improvement in my time would have earned me the win. I may have been able to pedal faster, but honestly, from what I know about aerodynamics, my .265m^2 is probably a little high. I’d like to see if I can lower that CdA down to a .25 or a .24 without losing power, and see what that would achieve.

Here are the results of some Analytic Cycling calculations. Notice the DROP in watts required to travel at the same speed. We’ll go back to my original power average on the last image….

Wattage required at .25m^2

Wattage Required at .24m^2

The savings on watts at the same speed, 10.2 meters per second, goes from 252w to 243w to 237w, or a savings of 3.5% and then 2.4%, or a total of 6% decrease in the amount of power required to hold that speed. So, you’re doing less work, using less energy, to get down the road at the same speed. Now, let’s show the final chart, and reveal just what speed I would have held on that section, had I been able to hold a .24m^2 aero position, and still generate 250w…

250w at a CdA of .24m^2

My speed goes up from 10.2m/sec to 10.44 m/s, or….


Now, this is never a perfect science, but let’s just say that I was able to mostly hold that position, stay at a perfect .24m^2 CdA, and generate 250w, which is about what I pushed on Sunday.

I averaged 25.3 miles per hour, or 11.3 m/s.

a 2% improvement would have yielded an average speed of 25.8mph, or 11.53m/s.

Covering the distance of the TT route, a 2% improvement would have yielded a 55:07, which would have put me 2 seconds out of 2nd place. Raising my power to 252w would have put me down in the 54 minute range, which would have led to a a win in my category.

So what’s the moral of the story? Well, as much as I love power, let’s face it – time trials are almost always won by mere seconds. Never let up, push as hard as you can as long as you can, but remember the little stuff that can, and does, make a difference.

Now – if I can just find a way to shed that drag, ever so slightly! Stay tuned!!!


Scenes from Mirage Cat 3 race, 5/29/2010

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Will post the race review soon.


Aggression vs Assertion

Wharton climbing Mt. Locke Stage 1 Ft. Davis Stage Race

Well, it’s over. My A#1 priority race is come and gone, and I can’t be more discouraged. My results were awful. My watts in crucial areas were down significantly. I raced with severe, bald passion and aggression, for naught, and I mean naught. The only good thing to come out of the races was a good time trial, and a resolve to never embarrass myself or my teammates like that again.

Here’s the thing though, I can’t help myself! In the 16 mile uphill, I launched an attack that only one rider was able to match. He held on in the hills. I got caught and finished 3:30 behind him. Today, I soloed off the front, got 1-2 minutes up in a crucial part of the course, but got caught, swallowed, and eventually spit out the back on the one freaking hill that I knew was going to be troublesome.

I was ready. I was prepared. I trained within my limitations for time and intensity, and got nothing, absolutely nothing for it. My teammates helped, they were great, and I just feel like I let them down, as well as myself. So, so frustrating.

I don’t know if I want to continue doing this. The frustration factor is high, the cost is high, and the results are far too fleeting. The intrinsic reward for knowing I ‘did my best’ is now permanently shadowed by the lack of extrinsic results. I’ve never felt so compelled to cheat or bribe my way to a win, though the shame of that would be worse than the crappy results I’ve been earning this calendar year. Last year, I was SO hopeful! This year, just supreme frustration. I pretty much hate racing right now.


Ft. Davis Loometh!

Hill Climb Stage at Ft. Davis

Gawd I love hills! I can’t wait for this event! Look for some tweets and postings about the race soon!


Manor 2010

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Not much to say here. I drove down, I raced, I got in to a total of 25 miles of breakaways, some solo, some 2’s, 3’s and 4’s, I got caught, we got lapped by the 1/2’s, and I finished in the Top 20. I got into a verbal match with someone after the race, which was stupid, and it ruined an otherwise great day in great weather. I’m tired of the BS that is Texas racing, however. No one wants to try hard enough, and I didn’t have enough teammates to do anything.

I think I’ll pack it up after the 17th and maybe just focus on rallies. No points, but they play in to my strengths better.


Denton Crit, March 7, 2010

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Sigh – Another race, another finish just outside the money or points. Led from the start, avoided trouble, had a great teammate who tried to lead me out, but we ended up going too wide and let a bunch of other riders slip through and finish ahead. Oh well, still fun, but I’m getting tired of the so-so finishes, especially after I work so hard. But then again, perhaps it’s me that’s the dummy.


Copperas Cove Classic, January 2010

#783 gets swamped at the end.

The 2010 Copperas Cove Classic has become the de facto start of the annual road race season for bikes here in Texas. The course is lollipop-shaped, with a 9 mile out route, then a loop, and the return 9 miles back in. The course has one or two loops, depending upon the category you race.

In years past, we’ve been burdened by harsh weather, sometimes with rain, but always with strong winds that tend to batter the riders. The road conditions aren’t perfect, either, and when you combine that with early-season rolling terrain, it makes for a tough course. This year, however, we had a medium-strong wind from the northeast, I think, and I actually got a suntan on my arms from the warm sun and weather. Temps were in the 70’s!!!

The Mirage Cat 3’s continue to impress me. We had five entrants: Chase McKinney, Shawn Hodges, Lee Eldridge, and Gary Dutschmann. We went in with a plan, agreed to work together and communicate, and to support or block as we saw the race unfold.

And, it worked.

Here’s how it unfolded…

The race was filled with over 95 Cat 3/4’s. I had originally agreed to do the 1/2/3’s to try and get the mileage in, but was persuaded to drop down to the 54 miler when the other guys signed up for that distance. We led from the very start of the race. Chase McKinney just rolled off the front, and when he was finally reeled in, Shawn Hodges and I stayed at or near the front to cover breaks, and keep the pace up a bit. However, at around the 4 mile mark, a rider from Joe’ PRO Bikes got off the front, and about a minute or two later, one of his own teammates launched off the front, to join him. I made a mental mistake in letting that happen, and by the time I had realized it, they were both a minute up the road, and they had a third rider blocking for them. Without really trying, I moved to the front to try and pick up the pace, and ended up just rolling off the front. It was left to me then to try and either bring the pack up, or bridge. If you know me, you know what I did.

The break of two remained 10 to 60 seconds in front of me for over 20 miles, as one rider bridged to me, then completely blew up, and I had to continue on my own. I tried shouting to them to slow down and let me catch them, but they didn’t hear me. Had they let me bridge, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have taken it to at least the 48 mile mark, where the final turn is to the finish line. But as it was, I was out there on my own for 52 minutes, 2-3 minutes up on the pack, and just able to see the two ahead of me by 15-60 seconds. I was finally reeled in by an SMU rider, but it took us about another 20 minutes before we finally caught one of the two guys, who had blown up. His teammate had played the spoiler quite well, breaking up our efforts to form pacelines quite well.

On this one really crummy road, which is sort of infamous for its’ potholes and deteriorating edges, we finally regrouped as a team, and I hid to recover while Hodges, Eldridge, and McKinney came to the front to pick up the pace. TBi and AT&T made several moves to bridge up to the solo rider as well, but it was Chase McKinney and a TBi’er who finally crossed that crucial 20 seconds, caught the kid, and then DRAGGED HIM ALONG while both TBi and Mirage blocked. Efforts to bridge were useless, and by the time we left the bad road and got back on to the final six miles of the loop, they had about a minute.

For years, the final six miles of the loop has been the area where I usually go flat and lose my energy or momentum. This year, though, I had no intention of letting that happen. In fact, after such an incredibly hard effort in the first 90 minutes, I had recovered quite well, and was around when Lee started to put in several fake attacks, which were designed to keep the other teams on their toes, and also to take the pepper out of their legs. That also worked. At one point, Lee, Shawn, and I completely blocked the front of the race, corking it at about 18 miles per hour. We held this for about 2 and a half minutes, which turned out to be critical, and gave Chase, the TBi’er, and the Joe’s PRO rider a chance to take their break up to 1:30. We lost the cork at the turn back toward the finish line, but we had done the damage. There was no way the pack was going to reel those guys in.

With about 8 miles to go, Lee rolled up next to me and said, “I’m going to go here at the top of this hill.” I said “okay”, and we waited for an attack from one of the more aggressive AT&T riders to get pulled in before I told Lee to go. He’d been saving everything for this moment, and when he unleashed it, he put 30 seconds in to the pack before they even knew what hit them. I remained on station at the front, covered breaks, and fostered general mayhem and frustration. The TBi kids did the same, though for some reason, we didn’t see the Joe’s Pro guys much at all in the last half hour. Several efforts were made to reel in Lee, but he gained more and more time, to guarantee himself fourth place. I could only wonder what was going on with Chase up at the front.

The finish to this race is held on a slightly downhill run, just about 500 meters after a peak on a rolling hill. When you have about 40 guys all trying to gain crucial places for points and money, it creates a lot of mayhem. I ended up getting sort of boxed in at the end, but was surprised to see that my combination of trispokes and aero helmet actually helped me glide PAST a few more people as we approached the line itself. I guess I could have sprinted harder, but what I really should have done was go at the top of the hill, one last time, and drilled it. However, I had been on the rivet and had played my hand as the team player, and had contributed to the animation of the race. My day was done. The final crown in the cap was learning that Chase had won the race, with Lee 4th. I finished 11th, still out of the money, and still out of the points.

I’m not discouraged at all, however. I think we have a great team, and I think we have a bright season of success ahead of us. I know where my training is going to take me, and I know that I have the support of the team when my moment happens. EVERYONE came up to us later and congratulated us on a great, clean race. We’re marked men now, but I have no doubt that we’ll respond appropriately.

Finally, I have to credit my belief in my training and in my firm belief in aerodynamics. I rode my trustworthy Nimble Trispokes, and a KED aero helmet, which HAD to have made a difference on the escape and again in the sprint. I also drank two full bottles of fluids, knowing that I was going to lose a lot more due to the helmet being a cap and not a ventilator. No cramps at all. I’ll write later about my belief in the two supplements I’m taking, Extreme Endurance and, well, Beet Root Juice. But that’s another discussion for another day. For now, I am grateful for my health, for Texas Racing, for my wife continuing to let me spend weekends away, and for my teammates – guys, you are making this more and more fun, the more we do this together.

I’ll write more regularly from here on out, and may modify this post to include images as they become available. Look for more about the training on my Cycling Center of Dallas Weblog.

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