3 Ways I will Definitely Get Faster This Year [Freespeed]

3 Ways I’ll Definitely Get Faster This Year [Freespeed]

This article tells you the 3 tools that I’ll use this year to get fast in my cycling. You already have one of those tools but probably don’t know about it, so the Freespeed will also be free for you but my other two acquisitions are quite expensive.

Context: 2023/24 probably represents “peak me”. It’s all downhill from here physically speaking. Well, that precise physiological point was probably several years ago but I’ve invested in various bits of aero kit that have compensated for declines in my FTP. As an example, last year I managed a 10-mile, all-time PB. This year is probably the last year where aero and other gains can keep me historically fast.

Undersuit Air Deflector – aka a water bottle!

Take a look at this picture of Lucy CB winning at Kona in 2023. I believe she is one of many cyclists/triathletes who use the aero science behind “stuffing a water bottle down the front of your trisuit”. Assuming that the bottle is an appropriate size, that your tri suit has quite a high neckline and that you already have a reasonable riding position, the humble water bottle delivers material gains. We could be talking 10watts…yes, TEN.

KAILUA KONA, HAWAII – OCTOBER 14: Lucy Charles-Barclay of Great Britain competes on the bike during the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship on October 14, 2023 in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

 

If you are reading this article, I’ll assume you know a little bit about aerodynamics on a bike. For those that don’t; for a given wattage you will go faster if you reduce the frontal area you present to the road ahead AND you will also go faster if the air flows more smoothly over your body. Stuffing a water bottle down your trisuit works on the latter of these effects, I would assume to act as a deflector for the air around your torso.

AFAIK, race rules are that this is allowed in triathlons and UCI cycle events. What is not allowed in cycling is ‘gadgets’ that go on the outside of what you are wearing. I expect that over the next few years, quite a few under-suit aero devices will be invented before the UCI bans them all!

If stuffing a water bottle down your trisuit opens up the neckline you will experience the parachute effect which could slow you down. So you will need a high neckline to do this OR a small water bottle placed over your stomach rather than your chest.

The main factors at play here seem to be as follows: length of the bottle, aggressiveness of ride position (aero vs road), torso position, and road speed.

The best solution seems to be to have a big bottle as far up your chest as possible and you could save 2-6% of drag. Nearly everyone will likely get aero gains from this.

These are some stats from erohighperformance.com and the same company also has a video that is DEFINTIELY worth watching here on YouTube. It  includes some of the edge cases where the water bottle made no difference.

 

Image| erohighperformance.com

 

If that has piqued your interest, you might be interested in the related topic of aero losses from bottle positioning in more conventional locations on your bike frame.

 

Put the water bottle somewhere else and get these penalties
Image|clicks to aero-coach.co.uk. 1-3watts is a fair amount of watts

 

Rudy Project WING – A Decent TT Helmet – Finally!

More: rudyproject.com

I have a Giro Advantage Race TT Helmet which, from googling, looks like the model was last updated in 2007 even though I bought it after that. No doubt the understanding of helmet aerodynamics might have changed a bit since then. Indeed, on this site a few years ago, a few readers kindly pointed out that my helmet was a bit rubbish in the grand scheme of things.

Well, I now have the latest RUDY Project WING. Which definitely is NOT rubbish.

As well as being better than my old helmet, this helmet supposedly has the added benefit of improved airflow for non-optimal positions. For example, if we look down too much or alter position because of discomfort, an aero helmet can add significant drag. The helmet also has a visor which gives gains in and of itself.

My only concern with TT helmets is ventilation as I tend to head-sweat a bit too much. This helmet does have a nice touch with a magnetically removable cover for frontal ventilation which then creates a flow channel over the head and is funnelled out of the rear

I’m expecting at least 5watts here, hopefully more. I’ll try out on my road bike first and then, in anger, once the weather is a bit more sensible.

Zone3 Aeroforce II Tri Suit

More: zone3.com

Trisuits are expensive and decent trisuits uber-expensive. You can easily spend over £100 on a bit of nicely shaped lycra that looks good but is neither aero-optimised nor properly ventilated nor has the right pouches for fuel. I have a few of those!

I also have a Tri-Fit EVO Next Gen and that is GOOD despite its strange pockets. It has aero materials to improve airflow over the shoulders and I’m certain is faster for me when riding fast and was one of the key factors in my good TT times last year. This year I hope Zone3 can eke me out a few more watts. The company’s product follows the same principle but is now on an improved second-generation version. Zone3 use a bumpy material to change the airflow and, perhaps crucially for me, that fabric is used over the back as well as the shoulders.

I fully expect Zone3 to be at least as good as the TriFit but it lacks pockets

Note: A skin suit could save you 15w at 25mph and 30w at 30mph. A tri suit wont be as good as that but I’d settle for 10w at 25mph.

Take Out

I’m going faster this year but after 6 weeks being spent in various states of illness, things are not looking good so far! Culminating in a bad last 3 days.

edit: First road bike test showed potentially modest improvements over what I would expect for the effort.

 

 

 

 

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