Now we move to the women’s pro field, with this video of the first 17 pro women into T2, shot at 300 fps. After six consecutive years of filming on the Queen K, I can say that in general the women’s positions have become more aggressive and more similar to the men’s. In this video you will see both ends of the aggressiveness spectrum and as always some questionable fits. More on this soon when we release our Kona fit analysis videos. We also have a video on the way showcasing the fastest male age groupers.
Monthly Archives: October 2013
Part 2 of our video study of the male pros passing thru mile 110 on the Queen K. As always, slo-mo shot at 300 fps. Some of the big names are here in this group of the 13-26th pros into T2. These include Tim O’Donnell, Crowie, and Pete Jacobs. Whereas the faster bikers were pretty well strung out, here we see a group of several athletes (trailing TJ Tollakson at this mile marker) who all rode around 4:40. Although riding in a group, they certainly look legal as they pass. We also see the two fastest runners of the day, Ivan Rana (2:47) and Bart Aernouts (2:44) who both ran into the top ten while many others in this video went backwards.
I continue to hear that the draft zone was in fact extended this year (again) for the pros. But I am not still not sure if this is the case, even though it might explain some of the race outcome. What’s confusing matters is that the draft zone has already been larger than regulation in Kona for the last several years, but this has effectively been a “secret” (see this article by Aaron Hersh). The lane reflectors on the Queen K are about 12 meters apart. For the last 3-4 years at least, the “secret” pro draft zone in Kona has been set by the reflectors, effectively extending the standard pro draft zone (10m front wheel to front wheel) by 3.5m (assuming back wheel to front wheel spacing set by reflectors = 12m + 1.5m for bike length). Or has it actually been front wheel to front wheel on the reflectors = 12m draft zone? Not according to that article… So was it really extended further this year? Anyone know for certain?
This video also shows some questionable bike positions – more on this in a later video. Until then, have fun:
Here we go again – the first of our 300 fps super slo-mo videos from Kona. Well the 2nd really – we put an early edit up on Xtri.com while still in Kona, but now that we are back at TTBikeFit HQ we will be churning out several more. This one features the first 12 pro men into T2 approaching the finish of the bike.
The conditions were certainly easier on the athletes this year than last year, not to mention much easier on us. Everything is relative of course – Kona is always hard. This year though the raging winds typically felt in the last 7 miles up to Hawi were largely absent, even for the age groupers. In some years these winds don’t show up until after the pros have come and gone. Age groupers did report strong headwinds from Waikoloa to the airport (approx mile 85-105). Not sure whether the pros experienced this as well but I am guessing they did. The heat was also not as bad as it often is – haze and then cloud cover kept things relatively hospitable.
That all said, we still saw quite a few blowups among the pros, and some slow marathons. Mark Allen is on record as saying that no one runs as fast as he and Dave Scott did because they bike so hard nowadays. Chris Legh mentioned to me before the race that the draft zone had been increased by two meters this year, and that he had found it to be enough to remove any drafting effect during training rides on the Queen K. It looks as if he was right as the mens’ pack blew apart on the way back with huge gaps between the first several riders. In past years you often had one bike specialist off the front, and then a few big groups of chasers. This could also explain the relatively slow marathons in the cooler than usual conditions. Uber-bikers Starykowicz, McKenzie and Kienle let it rip, and the run specialists had to make a decision as to how much time they could afford to give up versus pushing the limit on the bike. The decision was tougher this year as they apparently couldn’t depend on pack riding to help them stay in contention. Van Lierde seemed to find the sweet spot, as he ceded a bit of time on the bike to the front riders while staying well ahead of the run speedsters into T2. He was then able to pull off a decent, if not great marathon for the win.
There will be several more bike and run videos coming, including some with bike fit analysis. Until then, enjoy the first chapter:
Defending Ironman World Champ Pete Jacobs unveiled his new machine at the Kona expo yesterday. Boardman Bikes founder, Olympic gold medalist, hour record holder, and yellow jersey wearer Chris Boardman was on hand to explain some of the development that went into the bike. See the video of the unveiling below where both Chris and Pete talk about the design philosophy and features of the AiR/TTE/9.8.
Clearly the artfully curved and blended front end of the bike catch the eye. As is the current trend, cables are hidden. The bike looks exceptionally clean, almost minimalistic. The integrated bars/stem blend beautifully with the head and top tube, and a removable hatch provides access to cabling and the Di2 junction box, as well as a large opening in the frame. The frame is compatible with both mechanical and electrical shifting. The front brake cable descends through the steerer to the brake encased in the massive fork (there are removable covers on the sides of the fork for brake access). Apparently Chris has tested the fork and brake in the alps to make sure that it is up to his standards for braking and control under extreme conditions. The integrated aerobars will provide a range of pad stack, reach, width and angle adjustments. The pads on the show bike were just prototype pieces – seeing as the bike had just arrived from the factory hours before the unveiling, there are still a few details to be ironed out for production.
The rear end of the bike continues the clean, no-frills theme. The seatpost binder is a standard collar clamp, but it is buried inside the frame. Pieces of tape covered the binder bolt access holes on the prototype. At first glance, it looks as if there is no seatpost binder mechanism at all. The rear brakes are the now common TRP mounted beneath the stout chain stays. The seatpost has a 4-position clamp. The frame is built on a 78 degree angle, but the forward clamp position gets the effective seat angle to 80 degrees. Interestingly, Chris mentioned to me that he believes the trend will be to even steeper seat angles over the coming years. Back in the day Chris was known for riding the Lotus Superbike at ridiculous speeds both on the track and the road. Although that bike was built around typical slack road bike frame angles, Chris sat on the last few cms of the saddle nose, at a very steep effective seat angle.
One of the main themes of the Air/TTE/9.8’s design was drag reduction at wide wind yaw angles. The Boardman design crew believe that real world athletes experience on average broader yaw angles than most bikes are optimized for. So their new design was aimed at performance at 20 degrees yaw. There is no doubt that Kona athletes experience very high yaw on the queen K.
I had the opportunity to speak with Chris about his hour record days. He said that the Lotus bike was worth about a second per kilometer over anything else they tried. And the non-protective thin shelled aero helmets also created a great aero advantage versus today’s certified helmets. But the biggest gains he achieved were via the superman position. He recalled that the first time he tried it on the track, he rode three laps and then looked at his average power and speed, and was shocked at the gains over his standard TT position. He said he then knew he had to ride that position. And amazingly, he said it was quite comfortable and efficient despite appearances. No word on whether the next Boardman Bikes TT model will offer an optional “Superman” front end…
I had the opportunity to spend some time with Chris Legh at the Fuel Belt house on Alii Drive. Chris is returning to the big show this year after a multi-year hiatus, and he seems super relaxed for someone who has had his share of challenges when competing at the Iron-distance. For a great summary of Chris’s career, click
Trek shipped out a custom 2014 Speed Concept just a few weeks ago, but Chris tells me he really likes the bike and feels very dialed in. You can see that he is using a high hand position which he says lets him drop his head right down on his hands, which should be good for aerodynamics. There is no doubt that the new Speed Concept looks super clean. You almost get the impression that is a track bike as there are no cables to be seen anywhere. The integrated storage boxes add to the clean look. Chris chooses to ride with mechanical Dura-Ace, as he says he just doesn’t want to deal with the possibility of an electronic issue when traveling.
Chris plans to use one of the new generation of ventilated yet aero road helmets for the race: the Louis Garneau Course. LG says the Course is more aero than the Giro Attack 2, and it is clearly well ventilated. Lis and I
have been training with the Course, and she also plans to race with it. The Course has angled vents that allow air to flow through the helmet, above the rider’s head, when the head is held in a face-down position. When you ride behind someone wearing the Course you can see clear through the helmet from front to back. So this combined with the lack of a tail provide reduced frontal area and drag.
Best of luck to Chris on Saturday, and stay tuned for more updates from Kona.