This article was originally published on Lex Albrecht's website.
Scouting out ways to improve how I train, and how I use my equipement to be a better (stronger, faster, smarter) cyclist is part of the challenge and fun of being an athlete. I have to give credit to my coach from PowerWatts for proposing most of them!
One thing I wanted to investigate was how to optimize my position and use of equipment by looking closely at the effect they have on aerodynamics as I ride. If I can go faster by putting out the same effort (in Watts), just because my saddle is placed one way, the angle of my bars are another, etc., I want to know.
I took my Diamondback time trial (TT) bike, and all of my TT gear to the Mattamy Cycling Centre in Milton, Ontario (Canada) for the day. Andy from Alphamantis, a specialized aerodynamics company established in Montréal, joined my coach and me. Alphamantis does aeordynamics testing around the world. Their leading edge techonlogy and approach is proabably why they have worked with so many of the top athletes and teams. It was quite cool for me to have the opportunity to work with them.
For the precision that Alphamantis' offers in analzying CdA (coefficient of drag), it's suprisingly easy to measure (well, as the cyclist at least). All I had to do was pedal. Andy and his software did the analyzing in real time.
As I rode laps around the track, Andy could see in real time how much drag I was producing. As we tweaked my position, we could easily see if a modification was causing me to be sucked backwards more, or if I was slicing through the air like a "Double Man" Henkel knife.
In between efforts and ajdustments, I liked to see what my data looked like. Every modification that we made was recorded, to keep track of whether or not it helped, or hindered me. My sweetheart of an aunt stopped by and brought me my most favourite kombucha, which made for a good inter-interval refresher.
One of the important things that we discovered was the significance of the impact that a slightly uncomfortable, but very "aero" position has on the drag that I produce. It's useful to know to what extent it's worthwhile to put myself in that cave of pain to be as slick as possible, and how often I should pull it out of my arsenal of weapons during race time. I couldn't have done that otherwise.
The Mattamy Cycling Centre is located in Milton, ON. The world-class track is 250m long, with multi-sport courts (basketball, volleyball, badminton, etc.) on the infield, and a running/walking track that borders its outer circumference. There's something for everyone there. The centre offers bicycle rentals, coaching for beginners, a gym, bicycle storage facilities, and a spectacular view of the Niagra Escarpment.
The Mattamy Cycling Centre exists thanks to huge amounts of vision, passion, and genorosity. It's a big deal for the sport of cycling, Canadian athletes, and the entire community to have such a spectacular facility in our own backyard.