Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Returning to the tunnel.

The worlds biggest cycling vacuum cleaner

I've even written about how in retrospect many years later I didn't think my time spent at the tunnel was overly productive. So why in the world am I talking about going back?

Partially because I am hopeful that I have learned enough in the last 5 years to not make the same mistakes (new mistakes!) and also because I have some hope in working with Brian Stover and Heath Dotson at Aerocamp that we'll tease out some information I can apply. There is also a time sensitive matter in the back of my mind (the worlds worst kept secret) that, when it boils down to it, is part of what you are paying for going to the tunnel vs. track testing every time I get a chance to head down to Rock Hill. Convenience always costs premium.

I also have slightly different expectations out of the tunnel nowadays. It's not a cure all, or even the definitive way to a final position... it's just a tool.  Nice, clean air in the tunnel is not the same as the dirty turbulent air you find in the wild, but likewise, because of that same thing testing in the tunnel is much easier to get repeatable results. Give take and all that.

In 2012 I wanted to do EVERYTHING in a couple of hours... helmets, suits, positions... pretty much jack of all trades it. This time, I want to nail down a few things with multiple controls to make sure I leave with data I trust and can build off of. Things like helmets / skinsuits are low priority because it's pretty simple for me to test those myself. Instead, knowing the difference in positions (to compare with the metabolic cost / efficiency) is what I am after.

Is this

Better than this?

If it is, how much does it cost me in terms of watts I can produce. Which is better at different angles, does it change?

Obviously the top picture is more compact, and likely more aerodynamic (although sometimes you get surprised) but what if I can produce 20 more watts in the second picture? Is it THAT much more aero? These are questions that are important when trying to find every free watt.

I am excited for the opportunity to go back and work on things some more. Fit is always an evolution, at least for me, and this is just another step on the road to learning.

I'm scheduled for early March, of course I'll have a full write up!

Thanks so much for reading my randomness this week, it's been busy! (Tax returns and car sales = work work work!)

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

More Bike Nascar!

Happy (belated) Valentines day everyone. Hopefully you got to spend it with somebody special... or celebrated Singles Awareness day in an exciting way.

Last weekend we loaded up the truck (literally not a truck at all) and headed over the mountains to Rock Hill and the Giordana Velodrome, primarily so that us Knoxville guys and gals could get a little bit of practice racing in. 

It was also a good chance for me to get some feedback on the Fuji in both configurations. As far as a nice, predictable stable bike goes... the Track Elite is awesome. I'm very pleased with my choice.

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The build for endurance stuff
- Dura Ace crank w/stages PM
- DA Bottom Bracket
- DA Chainrings and Cogs
- Ultegra Pedals (I know...for shame)
- Izumi chain
- Walker Brothers Revo2 w/ Vittoria Pista (training tire)
- Hed3 (clincher) w/ 20mm SuSo
- Fizik Ares
- Tririg Sigma X
- USE Tula w/track pods
- Aerocoach Align pads
- Zipp Evo70 extensions

With the changes for group stuff being the wheels and going to drop bars (Nitto bars and a Look Ergostem)

Every trip it seems like we are constantly being buffeted by the wind on what should be a pretty calm area... Riding the black line is still tough for me, but I am getting better. I'm at least able to keep it inside the sprinters lane pretty much indefinitely, which is a big step in the right direction for me.

Showing off that nice Podium Sports skinsuit as well!

The practice races were awesome, despite the fact that for the most part I don't have the top end to keep up with the fast guys on the laps that count. During the scratch race I got a good view of the moves that ended up winning (from far behind haha) and during the elimination race I spent the majority of the time attempting to figure out the strategy of where the best place to be was. Inside the sprinters line seems like a great way to be boxed out (especially later in the race) but my strategy of riding high each elimination lap only worked well until the fatigue of being in the wind the whole time caught up with me. I lasted to about 5th man but then got dominated.

Jimmy coming around in the elimination race final

The Points race is a little more my style... endurance'ish enough (especially after the other two races) that you don't "just" have to be explosive. I picked up a lap, but still only managed to finish second. Maybe I'll start sprinting more in the future.

As usual, it was a great trip to Rock Hill. They really have an awesome setup with the track, BMX track and crit course right there in one area. Jimmy and Sharon even snuck onto the crit course for some recon ;)

How cool would it be to see signs like that everywhere!

So good times with good friends (new and old!) with hopefully man more to come. I know I'm coming back in March, so stay tuned for more adventures in cycling Nascar!

Knoxvelo/Hicks Chicks. I didn't get the cool socks memo.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Is Fashion hurting us on the bike? (pt1)

Always time for a Gene Wilder meme

We're all at the very least swayed by fashion, whether we like to admit it or not. This can be especially true of cyclists and triathletes. Our sport is so gear driven that oftentimes we upgrade simply to be upgrading. At least for the majority of us, we are heavily swayed by the pro's when it comes to our equipment selection and even our setups. But do the pro's know it all? And even if they do, is that in any way applicable to us individually? I'm going to look at some things the next week or two that I think we may need to look at a bit closer... this week mainly road bikes, next week TT/tri bikes. Certainly these posts aren't intended to say "WRONG" about any of this, the point is just to start thinking about it, possibly in a different way than we have been.

On our road bikes the trend has moved us (the last 10 years or so) all to riding smaller frames with much more seatpost and stem than has generally been the norm historically. Also, saddle to bar drop has increased a considerable amount as well.

I'm not picking on Gilbert, but it was the picture that suited my needs

I do some aero testing... generally that's on my time trial bike, but not exclusively. Sometimes I like to test things on my road bike as well, as I usually entertain the thought of doing a lot of criterium racing early in the season. (right up until the racing starts, at which point I become much less enthusiastic about it.) One of the things I tested a lot was where I was at my most aerodynamic on the road bike. Spoiler... it's when you are "virtual time trialling" as I call it... with your forearms resting near the stem like you are riding aerobars. Of course, this isn't a realistic road cycling position both for safety reasons and logistics (shifting/steering in a group) so the next fastest option down the line needs to be considered. As it turns out, that seems to be the "Sphinx" position, made popular in track cycling by Cameron Meyer (and the 3T bars of the same name) where the rider rests the forearms on the top of the bars at the hoods (or wrapping the hands around the outside on a track bike) pretty much forming an "L" shape with the arms.  I found it interesting that myself and all of my test subjects friends were at our most aerodynamic in this position.

But there was more... another interesting thing we had in common was that going from riding on the hoods to riding in the drops was not all that impressive a change. In one case (I won't name names) it was almost pointless for the rider to ever move to his drops. (From an aerodynamic standpoint at least) Things like that start making you question...why?

This is a pretty old picture (2011ish?) but it does a fair job of illustrating some things. Look at the guys riding in their drops (rear two riders) and how locked out their arms are. That's how most of us ride in the drops. Realistically, the HTC rider on his hoods looks just as slick on his hoods.

What about the old timers?

Sure, it was a different era, but look at that... much closer to that same "L" shape we were talking about for the sphinx position. If you are still following me, you are either nodding along or think I'm crazy... and while that's possible, it might be worth considering another guy people thought was crazy was trying to take this to the extreme (how could he do it any other way) for an attempt on the Merckx hour record a few years ago.

Obree never made that attempt. I believe he decided that the G forces put on the body on the track made it unbearable to ride like that for an hour. Still, it's obvious he was trying to make the "sphinx" position work 100% of the time in the drops. I wonder, if he had succeeded with this attempt, would the way we look at something like this be totally different?

Personally, I look much closer to the top pictures than that of the bottom three. Why? Good question... one I asked myself and really had to think to find the answer. Whereas a lot of my time the last few years has gone into my time trial fit... I can't think of any time I've dedicated to changing my road bike fit since my very first one many years ago. Sure I've messed with saddle height a little bit, maybe added or subtracted 10mm to my stem... but certainly no overhauls like I've done on my TT bike. So, when I was set up on my road bike year's ago, it was set up with one position in mind as being where everything felt "good." That was on the hoods. So everything we set up revolved around me being in my "optimal" position while riding the hoods. While that's probably the right way for most club riders (and almost certainly for a beginner cyclist) it doesn't quite make as much sense for someone who would be focusing on racing, especially if it were fast paced racing like criteriums where you usually want to be in the drops.

Unfortunately, as I've also always been a "slam that stem" type of guy... I don't have much room to adjust my own setup outside of a very funky looking upward angled stem. I may keep my eye out for a cheap 1 1/8" fork with more steerer tube and see what I can discover.

Next week, we're going to talk about aero bikes.

Until next time, thanks for reading, I really appreciate it!

- Christopher Morelock

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


It has been a busy week or so. My wife has started her new job and is (as most personal trainer's are in the first few months of the year) busy to an almost stressful degree. I am doing my best husband housekeeper, but it has also sapped some of my willpower to finish my own non-essential projects in the works. I suppose it didn't help at all that Resident Evil 7 dropped last week as well... sometimes you can't stop the gamer in you egging to eat away your week in non-conductive progress...

I have managed to get my Fuji track elite in a state of "almost" assembled. There are still a couple of finishing touches that have to take place (most importantly, those Tula Pods have to become a color other than red!) but overall I'm extremely pleased with how it turned out.  No test ride yet (I admit I'm scared to tighten the Sigma stem down to 15Nm!) but I'm antsy to make it happen. Heading back to Rock Hill in two weeks, so hopefully everything will be set by then.

The other cool thing I've got to play with is this handy UCI jig. It really makes measuring the extension and saddle setbacks a ton easier. My father in law is a woodwork master, so of course he took the simple design I had requested and make a decked out (probably nicer than what the UCI works with) jig. I've still got to finish it and paint it, but it's a fantastic little tool to add to my growing collection of obscure bike related items.

I'll give you guys a full build spec of the Fuji in the near future! And also some other interesting stuff I've got in the works. Honestly... I'm ready for race season to be here! Very Excited for the year!

Until Next Time, thanks for reading!

- Christopher Morelock