Thursday, February 12, 2009

Getting aero

Well, it's been over two months since I updated this thing. I guess all 3 people who read my blog (including myself) are begging for an update. So, since I am have a slight cold right now and am refusing to leave the couch I might as well update. Plus, there's only so many times you can check people's Facebook status.

Recently I went down to spend a week in Boca Raton doing some work and 09 planning for iBike. I took my time trial bike down there since the biggest hill was a bridge and I'd be riding a lot of flat roads. I always thought I had a pretty decent time trial position. I could have the handlebars pretty low and my back was definitely flat.

The only problem with this was that with my arms flat like that, and kind of far apart so I could breath, I had a huge pocket of air going right between my arms in into my chest area. I tried to position my arms upward a little bit to cut down on this gap. This made my back even lower, and it felt pretty fast. . .but I could barely push out 300 watts on the TT bike for 12 minutes. That's not going to win any time trials.

So I moved the bars back down, did some testing and found out that with training wheels, jersey, shorts, a regular helmet, a bottle, and a seatpack, my cda (drag coefficient) was .246. This is fairly decent and that number goes down (lower drag is better) when I have full race gear (like in the picture). I plugged the numbers into an online wattage calculator, and could see that for the Lowes Speedway Time Trials, the watts I usually sustain (340-345 for 20 minutes), and this cda gives me a time of just over 20 minutes. My normal time at Lowes is usually just over 20 minutes.

Then, the other day I got a crazy idea. . .what if instead of trying to go lower, I flipped my stem so it was higher? If I was higher, I could then angle my arms upward to cut down on the pocket of air entering my chest. I could also move the bars and pads even closer together to make myself more narrow. So I made the changes. The elbow pads are now in a position to that my forearms almost touch each other. The aero bars are about 3 inches apart, and angle upward. I decided to ride in this position before testing the cda numbers. I felt very comfortable, like I could produce the same power that I do on my road bike, and best of all. . .the bike felt faaaaast.

Once I got everything all set and rode around for a bit, I decided to test out the drag coefficient numbers. I was very pleasantly shocked to find that my cda had actually lowered by .02 despite raising my handlebars. Under the exact same clothing and equipment setup as before, my new cda was .223. I went back to the online wattage calculator and plugged in some more numbers.

If my wattage held the same as before, my time at Lowes would go from a 20:30 (no race gear setup) to a 19:50. Now, with race gear on I was usually getting around a 20:10 or so, so hopefully I will be able to put out a time closer to 19:30. Of course this depends a lot on weather conditions.

To get my cda numbers, I was using the combination of the Quarq crankset and the iAero head unit. This combination has the ability to display live cda as you are pedaling. If you stand up for a moment, you will see your cda go up. . .AND you will be able to see how much time it cost you as you are riding. And, given the accuracy of the time at Lowes Speedway given wattage and cda numbers, this combination can really be helpful for anybody wanting to go faster. I will try to get a couple of pictures up soon of my new time trial position and hopefully this will help me be a bit more competitive in my weakest event.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cycling Nutrition 101: The Gummy Category

So, riding time is back again. . .and you need some energy. Let's see, power bar, cliff bar, gels. . .naw, that's all for in season. It's winter, you need better energy.

You need some gummies.

But there are too many different kinds of gummies, which kind should you eat? What will give you the most amount of energy?

There's a simple rule for the relationship between the type of gummy and how much energy you get from them. The faster the real life equivalent of the gummy can eat you, the more energy you'll get from said gummy.

So, let's analyze gummies in order of least to most amount of energy it will give you.

Gummy peaches
Have you ever heard of somebody being eaten by a peach? No, neither have I. Maybe somebody sat under a peach tree one time and a peach fell on them and hurt them. But if that were the case, they were weak anyway, probably the type of person who uses their shirt to open doorknobs or pushes doors open with their elbow.

Gummy Worms
Yes, you can get eaten by worms. But you pretty much have to be dead or in a coma to be eaten by a worm. Anybody with the ability to exhale air or move their hands has the ability to defend themselves against a worm attack. Even a newborn baby can defeat a hoard of worms and would probably eat the real life equivalent of the worm. Gummy worms are NOT good for getting cycling energy

Gummy Bears
All right, now we're getting somewhere. Bears can kill you, right? Well, more thank likely if you are walking through the woods and you see a bear it will run away from you. This is actually great date material. If you're on a date with a girl, go for a hike and look for a bear. Yell at it, and it will run away and you'll look like a hero. And if the bear does decide to attack, you are more than likely faster than your girlfriend. . . no one will ever know.
Bears will attack if you step between the cub and mother. So, if you want to get energy from gummy bears, buy a bag of smaller and a bag of larger bears. This will simulate the mother-cub scenario and give you lots more energy.

Gummy Sharks
Sharks, they can smell blood from 25 miles away. If you watched and believed the plot of Jaws 2, they can swim faster than a commercial jet to track a family that moved from New Jersey to the Caribbean. They don't need arms, they don't need legs, they are basically just swimming sets of teeth that poop pale white vacationers. Sharks will kill you very quick, but there's only one problem. If you don't go into the water. . .they can't get you (well, I guess that's not much of a problem).

So, how do you improve the killing ability of a shark to get more energy on the bike?

Gummy Bearshark!
Half Gummy Bear, half Gummy Shark. It can swim, it can run, it can climb trees, and it can even pick locks. There is no outrunning, outswimming, or outsmarting it. It's the only gummy animal that if it were real could destroy liberty.

Now, I'd like to see this fight and more research might be needed, but the winner of this is:

Gummy Dinosaurs

There might need to be a major motion picture to decide this fate. But I think dinosaurs could beat Bearshark in a fight. How did I get to this? Point, we are getting weaker all the time. 100 years ago people would raise cows as pets, strangle those pets with their bare hands, and eat the raw meat right off their hands. . .and those were the women. Dinosaurs lived 65 million years ago. If the scale of toughness extends that far back, then dinosaurs were indeed the toughest animals ever, they could kill you the fastest, and the gummy equivalent will give you the most amount of energy on the bike.

Now, if Gummy Dinosaurs all of a sudden appear on the UCI banned list next year then you know they read my post. And you'll see cyclists being thrown out of the Tour next year swearing they thought it was Gummy Worms in the bag.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Caye Caulker - Go Slow

I'm down spending 10 days in Caye Caulker on the off part of my off season. The official motto of the island (35 miles off the coast of Belize) is "Go Slow" and they like to remind you of that all over.
Tonight and last night I ate at a restaurant that literally consists of a grill, a tiki hut, and a few benches on the beach. You can't beat the deals, 3 free drinks, 2 lobster tails, rice, potatoes, and a free dessert for 25 dollars Belize (12.50 US). Couple that with the accommodations and the fact that there are no cars (only golf carts) on the entire island and you have the perfect retreat.

Now the only tough part will be coming back home away from the 80 degrees every day, but I can't wait to start big time winter base training.

view from the apartment
Dinner tonight, being cooked right next to us
And some much needed R&R, life is good!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How to fly your bike for free (and go to hell)

Ok, so when I first started racing, taking a bike on a plane would cost about 40 dollars. I can see that being fair, especially with the size of my bike bag. But lately, the cost has been going up by over 25 dollars per year. On Delta now, taking a bike on board will set you back a cool 150 dollars. . .each way! In most cases, that is more than the actual ticket.

The stupid thing is, my bike bag is usually my only piece of checked baggage, and the size of just my bike bag is a LOT smaller than if I were to bring two suitcases full of stuff on board (which would only be an extra 25 dollars).

So, I devised a plan to get your bike on the plane for free. The first thing you'll need is one of these bags.
There is no place on this bag that says it's a bicycle, which is good because if there was a picture of a bicycle on it you would notice the herds of airline counter help tripping over each other in an attempt to add surcharges. You can buy this bag for about 150 dollars, and so if this trick works it will pay for itself in one trip.

Next, go to an embroidery shop. You will need to make a cloth patch that can be embroidered onto the bag. This should set you back 20-30 dollars or so. Have them embroider this logo onto the bag.
Can you see where the going to hell part of this in coming into play?

So, you walk up to the counter. You might be greeted by the usual "Is that a bicycle, is it a bike? Hey, can we charge extra for that? I got a bike! Hey Frank, get your rubber gloves and vasoline for this guy. He's got a bike!" But you just tell them "This is a wheelchair. I work for a non-profit organization and we provide hi-tech wheelchairs to Special Olympic athletes across the country. I am bringing this wheelchair to an event in Philly this weekend."

Now, here's what happens. Airline counter help is much like the Grinch at Christmas. It may never show, but they all have a heart somewhere in their bodies. If you have to carry a picture in your wallet showing the joy of a child winning the Special Olympics on your wheelchair, go for it. But you have to somehow pry through years of anger issues to reach these people who are slowly being replaced by vending machines. Also, bribing them with Xanax might help.

One other trick that might work is to email somebody at the corporation and explain to them that your bike is your only checked bag and it's smaller than when people check two bags. And since it takes up less room and is lighter than two bags, can you please only charge me the fee for one extra bag?

And of course, the corporation will email you back with a giant "eff you", and they might even send you a picture of them banging hookers in their swimming pools filled with Evian water. But then you take that email, edit their response to say that they appreciate you being a longtime customer and of course they would be happy to accomodate your needs in order to bring you fair service. Then you print that revised email out and show it to the counter help.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Cook Out

Cook Out. For all you not familiar with this restaurant, let me explain. Imagine God himself decided to open a fast food place, with chicken and burgers and milkshakes, and plop it down along ghettos everywhere near I-85. Yes, this is Cook Out. And if you don't mind ordering your food at one window while drug deals are being made at the next, this is the best fast food you can buy.

My weapon of choice? The grilled cajun sandwich. . . platter. It's a grilled chicken breast, covered in cajun seasoning, doused with Texas Pete and ranch sauce, and placed on a whitebread hamburger bun that you can buy in the supermarket. Add and order of freshly made fries and a large Sprite. That sounds like a tasty meal, too bad it's going to set you back around 7 bucks, right?

WRONG!! Total price. $4.26

They don't have Cook Outs in Greenville, SC. But there are a couple in the Charlotte area, where I have spent my entire week while going around circles in the dark. By the time we are done racing and get out of there, all reputable restaurants have closed. This is when Cook Out gets going, and I would be lying to you if I told you that I haven't eaten here every night for the past 4 nights. But it's not a problem. . .I can quit going there any time. It's not like I need it or anything.

Then again, it is only 2am and a milkshake sounds pretty good right about now.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Corbin, Kentucky

Is the home of O'Mally's eatery and pub. Home of he Friday night all you can eat seafood buffet (no I didn't), a waitress with two black eyes, and many overweight patrons. As Joey eloquantly said "There's not a single girl in here that I would do."

And that says a lot.

sent from the Tilt
Boyd Johnson

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Windiest race ever

Well, maybe not ever. But it was pretty damn windy today. Thad was 2nd and won the overall for the wekend.

sent with the Tilt
Boyd Johnson