Big Lance and Aero Positioning



roadhouse

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Aug 2, 2009
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Wind tunnel testing has become a commonly used tool to evaluate and improve a cyclist's time trial position, so you might be wondering why Lance Armstrong was recently riding around Hawaii with hundreds of strings [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66-_sSr_BDg"]attached to his body and helmet[/ame]. Why was he doing that outside instead of in the constant and controllable environment of the wind tunnel?

The wind tunnel can be a great asset to a professional cyclist, but it's not the answer to every question about optimizing time trial performance. In the real world, the wind is rarely blowing at a constant speed from a static direction, so it's useful to understand how a rider's position impacts airflow around his body when he's riding at maximum power and controlling the bike (which is being held up by stands in the wind tunnel) on real roads.

Observing Lance with strings attached to his body and helmet was the Team Radioshack sports scientist Allen Lim's idea, and I thought it worked out very well. The strings attached to Lance tell us a lot about how "dirty" the air is as it flows over and around his body. When the airflow is smooth, the strings lay flat against his body. But when the air is dirty, or turbulent, the strings spin like tassels. For us in the car--and Lance when he watches video of the sessions--it provides very clear evidence of what happens to airflow as he rides. For instance, when he drops his head and the tail of his helmet lifts up into the air, the string on the back of the helmet spins like a propeller; but when his head in in-line with his body and the tail of the helmet is down, that same string is in much smoother air.

The real benefit to this outdoor aerodynamic testing comes from watching what happens when the going gets tougher for the rider. When Lance hits a hill or strong crosswind, he reacts - as any rider will - to stay balanced and strong on the bike. That sometimes means shifting forward in the saddle, shifting back, or raising up in order to change his hip angle and deliver more power from a stable position. But these position shifts change airflow, and hence the amount of drag he's fighting. The information gathered from observing what happens when Lance rides in real conditions can then be used in conjunction with data from the wind tunnel to not only optimize position on the bike, but also the habits or behaviors Lance employs while riding in varying conditions. In other words, there may be times when it's very important to maintain a distinct position on the bike--even if it's uncomfortable--because of specific wind or terrain conditions; whereas that distinct position isn't as beneficial or necessary in other conditions.

In addition to Allen Lim and Dr. Stacey Simms, Ben Coates from Trek was out in Hawaii, too. He built up Lance's new Madone in Team Radioshack colors, and it's a sweet rig. I myself just started riding a Madone 6 Series from Trek, and after being on a variety of bikes over the past few years, I'm really happy to back on a Trek. The weight--or lack thereof--is incredible! I've never ridden a bike that was even remotely close to being this light, and it's also remarkably stable, smooth, and responsive. Want to try one for yourself? Stay tuned to www.trainright.com, because we're getting ready to launch a program called: "Come to Camp, Ride a Trek". Starting with our Summer 2010 camps, you'll get to leave your bike at home, forget the hassle, risk, and expense of giving your bike to the airlines, and ride a 2010 Trek Madone for the duration of a CTS Camp.

Chris Carmichael is Lance Armstrong's personal coach and CEO of Carmichael Training Systems, which is celebrating it's 10th Anniversary by offering a Free Training Camp with Chris Carmichael to all new coaching members. Visit www.trainright.com for details. You should also follow Chris at chris carmichael (trainright) on Twitter.
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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See ya folks, I'm off to get a patent on a suit which uses an array of strings and strain gages to measure one's CdA while on the bike. Of course it comes in Livestrong-yellow. PM me for advanced orders.

Gotta go....
 

gman0482

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Aug 13, 2009
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haha, put me in for one of those Frenchy... you can call it The Puppet Experiment.

Yet another gimmick to fool the competition, IMO.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Wow. Another cut and paste. It's probably to much to ask to just post a link. There's nothing new in this aero testing.
 

roadhouse

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Aug 2, 2009
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and not that i really want or care to envoke the tiny and worthless wrath and fury of people who apparently can't do anything other than try and consistantly and wrongfully down me for any and all reasons or debate with those who are done with me (other way around actually) but yet post on my threads the very next day but what's the damn difference if it's the link or the entire article? i think that the entire article brings about a much more intriguing and in depth value to the site it's posted on anywho. go ahead and cry about whatever you want, just don't expect for the baby wipes to be provided by me.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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Bailsibub said:
Lance needs all the help he can get. He's about as aero as a brick.

Maybe. Maybe not. You'd have to see his numbers to make that determination. Looking at a pic or video doesn't tell you anything.