Cait's Blog

Wind Tunnel

Thanks to Pearl Izumi, I recently made a trip out to the San Diego Wind Tunnel. While there, we tested and made adjustments to both my bike and my race kit, taking into account aerodynamics, power, and comfort. It was such a cool experience!

This is how it works...

Your bike is set up on a delicate trainer-like stand in the tunnel. This "trainer" is composed of as little material as possible to minimize its effect on the data to be collected. Because of this, you have to be careful when getting on and off your bike. No flying mounts/dismounts - stop pedaling, unclip one foot, unclip the other foot, put one foot down on the ground, ease off the bike. The setup is also designed so that both the front and back wheels spin to mimic real world wind resistance.

Next, you get on the bike, in your race gear, and they take pictures to document your initial position. Then everyone except you leaves the tunnel, they close the doors, and shut off the outer-room lights. Now you're sitting on your bike in a dimly lit, nearly soundproof tunnel, looking into a massive hole with a honeycomb wall.

Kind of like this, only you're not looking at someone's butt!

This is what the wall looks like up-close.

Once everyone is ready, you are told, through a speaker system, to begin pedaling. And then the wind begins. It starts out nice and light, but picks up to 30 mph. This wind is created by a massive turbine in the adjacent room.

This turbine propels air...

through this wall...

where it is forced into a giant U-turn, and blown in your face!

Meanwhile, these guys are sitting in the room on the other side of you, documenting all of the data:

The mad scientists! (and a giant cake....)

After each test run, Matt Steinmetz, from Retul, comes in and makes one or two adjustments, documentation photos are taken, and then the process is repeated.

This is where we started:

Initial Position

Initial Position

Then we tried some different things:

Moved the saddle forward and up.

Tried shorter cranks (thanks, Angela!),

and a longer stem.

Tested a higher hand position,

a lower head position,

and a narrower elbow position.

Here's a little video of the evolution:

Thank you Pearl Izumi and Shimano for making this happen!

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