by Quintana Roo Triathlon June 12, 2019

Article written by Quintana Roo professional triathlete, Matt Hanson, 4x IRONMAN champion and 3x 70.3 champion. 

It has been almost four months since my trip to the Boardman High Performance Center for physiological and aerodynamic testing. I’ve held off on publishing this for a few reasons. Primarily, I wanted a chance to fully implement and test the changes we found in a few of the early season races so I could validate the findings. When I first told a few people outside of my support circle the numbers I was finding in the tunnel, their responses were pretty much along the lines of “there is no way that’s right…” I tend to trust numbers more than opinions, but before feeding the fire for you internet trolls out there, I thought I’d hold off to have the data from a few races to verify the numbers from the tunnel. Now that Ironman Texas is in the rear-view mirror, I feel even more confident in the data we found. So here you go:

  • Boardman Center Baseline cda: 0.2164
  • Boardman Center Best: 0.1990
  • Campeche 70.3 Average: 0.1995
  • Galveston 70.3 Average: 0.2000
  • Ironman Texas Average: 0.1985

Obviously, taking corners, climbing, grabbing bottles from aid stations, etc. is going to influence drag. So to be so close to the numbers I was getting in the wind tunnel is definitely something to be excited about.

I spent two full days in the Boardman Center with the team there along with my bike coach, Matt Bottrill. We started the time with an orthopedic and biomechanical assessment and then a bike fit. This allowed us to play with a few positions along the spectrum of the most aggressive from an aerodynamic standpoint and the most from a power production standpoint. Then we took the position into the tunnel for refinement and optimization. I spent the next two days riding the new position to make sure I could hold a line and felt comfortable, then headed back to Boardman for day two of testing. Monday started with a full gambit physiological tests in the new position to make sure I could breathe and produce the power we wanted (and also gave me a full profile of myself as an athlete). Then we went back to the tunnel primarily for equipment optimization.

I could go on and on about everything I found there, but that would get way too long and no one seems to have the attention span to read that these days. So I’ll just highlight the major findings.

Position

  • The Quintana Roo PRsix Disc is a fast bike! This is the third time I have done aero testing with the PRsix. Two times with the standard frame in the velodrome with Jim in LA and this trip to the UK. The Disc version was just as fast if not faster than the standard and the thru axel makes for much better power transfer. So I’m quite happy riding the PRsix Disc!
  • Hand position: The biggest drag reduction we found was a combination of high hands and narrow elbows. Raising the hands was a small decrease, but bringing the elbows together was huge. Please note: most people do not have the flexibility for this and will significantly reduce their power due to difficulty breathing by bringing their elbows completely together.
  • It was actually faster for me to raise the pads higher and lengthen the extensions out a bit so I am a little longer out front. Lower is not always better!

Equipment

  • Kit: I was very pleased with how well the OwnWay kit tested for me. We tested it against 3 top competitors and it was faster than all of them. The significant findings for me on the kit was how important it is to race in a new kit. When I tested a brand new kit versus a kit I had raced in six times there was a 6w difference in drag! So keep your kits fresh!!!
  • Helmet: The Kask Mistral I had been racing in was neutral with or without the visor. However, the Kask Bambino Pro EVO (just being released to market now) was about 3w faster for me and also tested faster with the visor over the glasses. The Bambino EVO tested faster than 4 other top competitor helmets as well.
  • Pedals: Switching to Speedplay Zero Aero pedals was a 4w reduction in drag. So needless to say, I had purchased a pair of Speedplays before even leaving Boardman so they would be waiting for me when I got home!
  • Front end hydration: We tested a number of set ups for front end hydration. The two big findings were that it had to sit below the bars so I could keep my arms together and it had to sit close if not on the head tube. This was quite tricky as there are very few products on the market. However, with some creativity and MacGyver’ing the guys at QR were able to help me find at least a temporary solution. We are still testing everything out here, so I am not going to release the full details on how we got to where we are now until I know it is safe, won’t launch, and that it will be my long term solution. But so far so good.
  • Frame Hydration: I’ve always tested faster with the TorHans VR series bottle on the downtube. This trip verified the 1-2w savings with this bottle that I got while I tested in the Velodrome. I also always test faster with bottle angled behind the saddle. Yes, I know this is deferent than the testing some other companies has done and what other individuals get. But you must keep in mind that there is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to aerodynamics, especially when the rider is the biggest variable. I sit quite far forward on my ISM pn 3.0 saddle. That creates more of a gap between the end of the saddle and the bottle that you wouldn’t get sitting farther back on a different saddle.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with what I got out of that trip. It confirmed how much right we were doing already, and helped me find a lot of free speed. The team at the Boardman center has been fantastic. I’ve been able to go back to them with a number of questions for follow up and they are always quick with a response. It was also really fun to geek out talking shop with the exercise physiologists they have on staff. I was pleasantly surprised by the team they have assembled and hope to be able to return again the next time I am in the UK visiting Matt, even if just to talk shop!

 

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