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More tales from camp

Just as with last year’s camp, we’re spending about 2 days per week on our time trial bikes and working on our TTT. The discipline is steadily becoming more and more important as a growing number of races are incorporating them. Even if your team doesn’t have the most horsepower, you can save a lot of time just by being technically proficient. If you can fully commit to the wheel instead of peeking out the side for a better view of what’s going on, and if you can stay just inches off the wheel instead of a foot, those power savings really add up over the course…but it takes a lot of practice to get to that point.

Some guys really hate the TTT, but I have come to really enjoy it. It is all the purity of a TT but with the addition of danger and the requirement of a cooperative team effort. It can also be the most you have ever suffered if you find yourself in the unenjoyable position of the timed rider.

On yesterday’s ride, we decided to venture away from our usual rides and try a new climb, but that didn’t last for long. We made it 5km before aborting and returning to known territory, as the climb we wanted to do was the main pass to Italy, and traffic was terrible. So we returned to the Cormet de Roselend, because who wouldn’t want to see this view again?!

Cormet de Roselend

Yesterday was also the first time in the whole camp that I’ve ridden a trainer, as the afternoon thunderstorms came early, the first sprinkles hitting just as I reached the hotel. I was only 20 minutes short of 5000kJ, so I felt compelled to finish it off.

The team has also been working with a Dutch graduate student to develop a system that objectively compares descending techniques between riders. Our bike is covered with sensors and fitted with an overhead camera, and we each take several runs of a 1km descent. We were confined to our lane and not allowed to pedal, so it was a true test. I loved it! I got to geek out and discuss all the sensors and analysis techniques, and the test itself was like a real-life video game: how perfect can you make a descent?

Once all the data was in, we could compare various lines, braking points and balance, entry- and exit-speeds, etc. between riders. It was really cool to see the varying techniques laid out right there for analysis. On such a test without pedaling, finish times should be inversely proportional to rider weight, and I’m pleased to say that I performed above my weight. We were also able to see the learning effect over multiple runs, as a few of us markedly improved between our first and last runs as we dialed in our braking points and lines to the centimeter. To that end, you could also see that some riders are less calculating in their method, with a somewhat reckless style that results in fast but inconsistent times. I look forward to seeing this technology develop further!