With one of my goals for 2011 to improve my time trialing ability, and the first race on the calendar being a time trial event, I have been putting a bit of time and energy into various aspects of my time trialing over the past months. All of this paid off last weekend with a good result at the Frostbite Time Trial. This post details some changes I’ve made since my first foray into the time trial nine months ago.
First, the bike. The frame is actually the same, but the fit is much different due to a few part swaps. First, I have proper TT handlebars which are not only more aerodynamic, but they allow me to get much lower. Second, I have aerodynamic race wheels which theoretically are worth about a 3% improvement. That doesn’t sound like much, but I averaged 27.1 mph at the Frostbite TT, so the wheels gave me 0.8 mph or about 45 seconds. Those 45 seconds would have moved me from the fastest Cat 2 to the back half of the group. Lastly, I have a setforward seatpost and TT saddle which are critical to getting proper position on a converted road frame for time trial use.
Below are two photos. The first is from the 2010 State Time Trial (Full Report), and the second is from the 2011 Frostbite TT. Last year, I had clip on bars with a standard seat and seatpost. I was still able to obtain a fairly low torso angle (17 degrees). The best time trialists in the world are close to 10 degrees, but I am as low as I can go on my current converted road frame. Note the Torso angles in the two photos are similar:
Despite the near identical torso angle, there are a few big differences. You can see how my body weight is better supported with my upper arm supporting by torso directly. This will leave less strain on my lower back. The differences are more apparent when the images are overlayed over each other:
The 2010 position is ‘ghosted’ over the 2011 position. You can see how the setforward seatpost moved my body forward to align my upper arms. Also, the time trial bars allow my elbows, and therefor my body to sit lower on the bike. The more forward position will also decrease my hip angle and should produce more power. Last year I was disappointed by lower than expected power output during the State TT.
This year I was not racing with power, but was surprised by my strong result despite the fact my testing had indicated lower than expected power. In fact, I don’t believe I could have produced more than ~320 watts for the race, but some riders have posted their power data from the race and I beat a Cat 3 who averaged 333 watts by more than 40 seconds.
Update: I went on to place 4th in the 2011 State Time Trial with this setup.