We are very excited to begin offering our cutting-edge “Swim Easier, Swim Faster” triathlon swim clinics! We’ve partnered with Coach Al Lyman to create a team-based teaching paradigm. We employ our proprietary “I-PUMA” (Instant Poolside Underwater Motion Analysis) to give students immediate, repetitive slo-mo feedback on their strokes, both above and underwater! We think this feedback loop creates the ultimate environment for fast understanding, learning, and improvement! Combined with specific technique enhancing exercises, in-water neuro-feedback, and classroom instruction, we think we have the secret formula to swimming success. See the home page for details on out first clinic on February 8.
Monthly Archives: January 2009
I have written two other posts on the P4 – both from Kona. The initial post questioned whether it was worth the price upgrade from a P3- at first glance it looks like a P3 with a few tweaks. Then I talked with Cervelo’s Phil White and he set me straight. Last night I attended Cervelo night at our local shop BikeWorks, and watched their aerodynamics presentation and got some more info on what makes the P4 tick (better than the P3’s tick…).
Bottom line: 18 watts. That’s what this frame is worth at 30mph vs the P3. The drag savings come from four main areas: the chain stays, rear brake, front fork/frame interface, and the frame-integrated water bottle/stiffener/faring. The bike they had on display was still a prototype, and the waterbottle still didn’t fit right, but they have this fixed and the P4 will be hitting shops in March. It will come with 2 frame waterbottles, and the interchangeable tool kit and “stiffener” (i.e., faring).
The chain stays are a suprising source of drag reduction. But they are much broader in the horizontal plane than the stays on the P3. In fact some race wheels will not fit (as listed on their website). So apparently wedging the rear wheel tightly between the stays improves the flow over the rear wheel.
The rear brake is almost completely hidden within the frame (covered by a removable faring – er… stiffener). Besides removing the brake from the wind, it also allows the seat cluster area to be much thinner and smoother than the P3’s. The question I heard alot was just how much gunk will accumulate in the brake compartment? 2nd, how hard will it be to service and adjust? The rear brake does have a quick release mechanism, as well as an inline barrel adjuster located near the cable port on top of the top tube behind the stem.
The waterbottle seemed surprisingly easy to grab and drink from. It is supposedly refillable on the fly: you can flip open the nipple and you get a opening about 1.5″ in diameter. I wonder how well this will work in practice. Cervelo noticed that even with an aero bottle on the downtube, air flow stalled in the lower part of the main triangle, so they solved this by filling it with the bottle/stiffener. There are no mounting screws for a standard bottle. They say the most aero combo for long course is a conventional bottle between the arms on the aerobars, and then bottles behind the seat, mounted fairly high. This is something that seems to change annually – should rear-mounted bottles be low or high? Apparently the latest info says high.
The P4’s fork blends smoothly with the downtube and the front wheel is tucked closely against the downtube as well. I am still amazed that they couldn’t find a worthwhile (cost effective?) way to improve on front brake placement. The headtube is also narrower from the front and tapers more smoothly than on the P3. Other small improvements over the P3 include the internal cable routing and hidden binder bolts. All in all it makes for a very clean looking package vs the P3.
The Cervelo rep made an excellent point during the aero presentation: in the real world wind comes from the side. The wind vector is typically in the 5-15 degree yaw area, so a true aero bike should exhibit reduced drag in a yaw situation vs a head-on wind field. They presented a graph showing their carefully controlled wind tunnel test results using the fake Zabriske dummy rider (I would really like to see them automate dummy Zabriske so he can pedal). The results were from late 06 so some new bikes were not in the test, and they did not say which curve was which bike other than pointing out the Cervelos. But it was clear that a few bikes including the P3 and P2 improved in a yaw situation, while a whole bunch of other bikes had more drag in yaw (i.e., slowing you down on the queen K). It was also clear that the P2 and P3 were very close, but the P4 is in a whole new territory of low drag. Apparently some other frames that tested pretty well (Cervelo will not say anything about whose frames didn’t test well) were the Trek TTX and Specialized Transition, no surprise since they also spend alot of time in the tunnel. Note however that both of those frames fit very differently than Cervelos. Rumor has it that Trek will be introducing new TTX today, so we’ll see.
So that’s the P4 scoop. $6800 is a big nut in today’s economy, but amazingly other bike manufcturers are charging much more for their high-end bikes. Equipped with full SRAM red and a Fizik Arione Tri2 saddle, you won’t need to change anything on the P4. And much like the Model-T, you can get it in any color you like, as long as you like black.
The gauntlet has been thrown down! Lance confirms in an Ouside Magazine interview that he plans to race Kona as soon as his cycling comeback is over. Lance says:
“I can unequivocally say yes to that. That’s a fact. And I get asked that question every day. I don’t know when it was, less than a year ago, that I got some of these Ironman DVDs. I said, Let’s see what that’s all about. So we’ve been watching them for the past year. I’m definitely motivated to do an Ironman. We’ll go back and I’ll be close to 40, but I’ve swam more in the last three years than before that. And I don’t want to just do an Ironman. I don’t want to approach it like I approached the marathons. I want to do it as fast as I can.”
Look out Queen K. We immediately started debating his likely finishing spot. I said:
“Very realistic shot at top ten IMO, but I doubt he can win because he’s probably 15 mins slower than most of these guys running and 5-10 min swimming, so he would have to ride close to 4 hours flat and run 3 flat.. then again never count him out of anything.”
Scott the (former) swimmer chimed in:
“Back in the day, he was one of the best swimmers in the state of Texas… If he could get that technique back, I think he could stay within easy reach of the top contenders coming out of the water.”
Vinu, who’s been racing long enough to remember Lance’s tri career (even I haven’t raced for that long), added:
“I think everyone underestimates Lance’s triathlon skills. I hail from the era of Lance as a triathlete. He used to swim at the front, ride off the front and then get run down- and that was at short course. But he created a lot of buzz because he was only 15, 16 years old and racing Dave Scott and Mark Allen for the win. There is no question that Lance could crack the top 5 overall.
Take a look at former pro cyclist and NORBA champ, Steve Larsen. When he showed up in Kona he drilled everyone on the bike and placed 9th overall with a 3:20 marathon. He rode through Stadler like a hot knife through butter. Lance would swim 10 minutes faster than Larsen, ride 5 minutes faster and run no slower than 3:10. That would put him into the top 5, top 3, an exciting race. Tim DeBoom didn’t catch Larsen until about mile 13.”
What do you think Lance can do in Kona??
Dan Empfield is certainly one of the pioneers of tri bike design and fitting. He recently wrote a lengthy article (lengthy for the internet anyway) comparing apple pie baking and bike fitting. As strange as the subject matter sounds, I think the article is quite good, but I would like to summarize my view of his view, so to speak.
The basic premise of his article is: Beware of confusing a fitting tool with a fitting philosophy or methodology. You wouldn’t say you had a DeWalt home if your builder used DeWalt tape measures – yet we are seeing more and more instances of people talking about “Retul” fits. The Retul is nothing more than the bike fitting equivalent of your builder’s DeWalt laser measure and levels. It simply provides numbers – what you do with the numbers is what’s important. Now we can argue whether the Retul provides “better” numbers than other fit tools, and I have my opinions which I will be happy to share with anyone who asks me. And I will also say that even Retul itself seems to be blurring the line here, whereas early on their marketing stuff clearly stated that it was an agnostic tool compatible with any philosophy – maybe I’m wrong but it seems that way.
I use another type of motion capture: motion analysis software. All considered I think this is the “best” tool. But I do NOT say that I do “Pro-Trainer” (the name of the software) fits. I simply use it to facilitate my TTBikeFit fitting philosophy and methodology. The point is, just because a shop or fitter has tool X, it in no way implies that you will get a good fit, or that said fitter knows the difference between a road and a tri fit.
Dan rightly points out that several of the fit “systems” do not address tri or TT fitting – they work pretty well for road fits but make no special considerations for aero fitting. And take it from me (and him): they are completely different animals. His FIST system is specifically designed for aero fitting, as is my TTBikeFit system. Unlike FIST I also have a road fit system/philosophy.
One thing I would like to take some issue with is the matter of “certifications”. There are several available for fitters, with FIST being the leader for aero fit certification. Most of the others, again, do not address aero fitting. While in general it is probably better to find a fitter with a certification, it also in no way means you will get a good fit. I have worked with many athletes who have been fit by various fitters with various certifications, and I’m here to tell you the resulting fits can be all over the map. Just because the guy went to some class doesn’t mean he can apply what he learned (or that he even learned anything – much like me with my differential equations course in college). There is also the issue of how much time the fitter has spent training and competing. Beware of those who haven’t been in the trenches – alot.
So how to pick a fitter? Get a referral. Get several if possible. Look for testimonials and evidence of results. That’s why we post every comment we get from clients, and post many videos and images of our fits. Understand where their philosophy comes from and if it makes sense. Ask questions – if the answers are boilerplate or don’t inspire confidence, look elsewhere.
Finally, Dan talks about using a fit bike. We currently don’t have one. And it’s not because we’re cheap, it’s just because we don’t like any of the ones on the market. Just as we didn’t like any of the fit “systems” on the market and hence created our own, here we’ve also taken matters into our own hands – stay tuned. We’ve been working behind the scenes for more than a year on this, not to mention on something else that we think will take the fitting world by storm. As I said, stay tuned….