Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Marginal Gains

First of all a few numbers.

Total distance cycled = 1564 km
Longest Ride = 110 km
Total distance climbed = 11285 m

Total distance swam = 28.4 km

Whilst the furthest distance cycled has not increased, this has been intentional as I have been doing some regular 75 km rides together with a range of other rides as determined by the plan. My intention is not to exceed the 110 km distance for a while yet ( it is 68% of total challenge distance ) but to work on building up other aspects of my cycling fitness.

This brings me on to my attempts to improve by aggregating some Marginal Gains.
Weight kills on a bike, especially when you are having to lug all those extra kilograms up hills and Box Hill lies in wait for me like a tiger stalking its lunch.
I currently weigh in at 73.5 kg but  the total whole system weight includes not only me but also my bike, tools, spare bits and provisions. So something needs to be done.

Step 1. Lose weight and I have made a start by having my hair cut. This seemed to me to be a cost effective way to proceed but in the event the improvement in performance has been very marginal indeed :-() It would appear therefore that personal weight loss will be insufficient.  Other things  need to be addressed!

Step 2 The Brooks 17 saddle and I have a love-hate relationship.  It loves tormenting my butt whilst I hate the pain that can ensue. It also tips the scales at 574 gms. So, riding to the rescue has come a Fizik Arione which not only looks smart and sleek but also comes in at 225 gms, a huge saving and must be worth loads of haircuts .An Italian saddle to go with my Italian Nitto stem, a perfect match and as I explained to my non-cycling wife, things have to be coordinated don't they ?  In addition I acquired it at a bargain price :-)

Step 3  Having successfully explained to my wife the need for full coordination, I thought it  would be worthwhile explaining to her the principles of Rotational Mass and the benefits to be had from steel spokes with aerodynamic shape and aluminium nipples using a  laced pattern with 20 radial spokes on the front wheel and 24 spokes on the rear,  16 being  double crossed at the drive side with 8 radial on the left side.

This Campagnola Neutron wheel set, and being Italian obviously complements the saddle and the seat post. Naturally, they are only to be used in summer so I still need my hand made Mavic wheels with Miche RC2  racing hubs
Of course rotational mass is all about something

 called the moment of inertia and is
I = 0.5 m r2
ω is the rate of rotation, expressed is radians/second:
ω = 2 π rev/sec
rev/sec = v / circumference = v / (2 π r)
ω = 2 π (v / (2 π r)) = v / r
Erotating = 0.5 (0.5 m r2) (v2/r2)
        = 0.25 m v2
That is, the rotating energy is 1/2 the linear (translational) energy.

I looked up at this point to see if wife thought a diagram might assist but she had fallen asleep!  Can you believe it!

When fitted my Mercian Vincitore Special looks like this :

Well, I think it will give me a load of marginal gains, and is far easier than actually dieting.
I am sure wife will agree when she wakes up :-)


  1. The seat post is fantastic…..
    With the snow we have today and for the next few days you can see the immediate need of aerodynamic spokes to cut through it. I would now fit the aerodynamic wheels until the snow has gone, the saving in effort will far outweigh anything you could get in the summer. :-) – But I am beginning to doubt that the summer will be any different weather-wise, so perhaps not.

  2. Marginal gains are definitely the way forward, just ask Dave Brailsford. Your next steps should be a shiny skin suit, pointy helmet and shaved legs!