Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I've often lamented by descent into becoming a triathlete, not someone who does triathlons. And I still am. Part of that is because of the stupidity exhibited by tri geeks. They (and I'm not including myself in this discussion of the group) swallow whatever anyone tells them, as long as they promise it'll make them faster. There are several, many of which I'm sure to touch on later. The first one is the best: You should ALWAYS ride in the aero position. This is my absolute favorite - common sense be damned, the tri-geeks persist in this. It seems like common sense that there are three things determine how wind acts on you as you ride: 1) How big of a target you present, 2) How hard the wind is apparently blowing, and 3) the direction the wind is blowing. Apparently, since tri-geeks can only control one of these three things, they believe that presenting as small a target as possible is the solution that makes you faster all the time. Not so much. The aero position only provides an advantage if the apparent head wind is greater than 17-18 mph. Apparent wind is the remaining vector after you factor in your direction of travel and the direction the wind is blowing. With that in mind, there are three common situations where staying in the aero position (which is as uncomfortable or even more so than it looks) is stupid or maybe even dangerous. First is climbing. On a calm day, riding uphill in your aerobars at 12-13 provides no aerodynamic advantage. Yet I see tri-geek after tri-geek grinding away up AF Canyon in their aerobars, convinced in the truth that its faster. You know, because somebody told them it was. Second is descending. A friend of mine, let's call him Jared, called me one day as he left the emergency room to tell me there was a hazardous section on the road up AF Canyon. Apparently hazardous for cyclists anyway. When Jared explained to me where the spot the spot was, I knew it immediately. It's really nothing more than a slight dip. Unless you're in your aerobars. Descending a curvy road. With no access to your brakes. And all of your weight is over your front wheel. Which was exactly what the genius Jared had dropped off at the hospital was doing before Jared found him. Based on the evidence, Jared said it looked like genius had hit the dip and then hit the road, leaving large patches of his face and several teeth as he skidded along before slamming to a stop into the hillside adjacent the road. I prefer to have my weight and hands positioned so I can control my bike when I'm descending, even if it is 1-2 mph slower - I'm picky that way. Third is in a stiff tail wind. At the Vikingman last year, we battled 30+ mph headwinds on the way out. I was lucky to do 12 mph on the flats. With an apparent headwind of 40+ it made sense to 'get aero.' But at the turn, that same headwind turned into a tail wind. I passed scores of people at 30+. You see, they were all tucked away while I made myself as big as possible by sitting straight up to catch the wind. Each person I passed shot me the same confused look, wondering how I could possibly be going faster than him while not being aero. Apparently the idea that wind can push you where you want to go, you know, the sail concept, was completely lost on them. Or at least ignored. Ignorance of the realities of something as basic as wind, that's one of the reasons I hate grouping myself with triathletes.