there’s an aspect of the sport of time trials that is utterly consumed by the appliance of science in various diverse forms, all in the pursuit of time and speed. i’ll try to show you by quoting a recent internet forum and putting in an image:
as you can see, it’s a pretty complex picture. i understand some fairly straightforward things:
1. better-designed equipment makes you quicker; for example, a disc wheel churns up less air than 32 spokes, thus creating less turbulence and smoothing your passage through the air. other time gains are as follows:
2. power-to-weight is important when going uphill, less important on the flat, hence the fast times set by big chaps
3. it’s a total arms race. if you think about the disc, for example, these often cost over £1500. i think that’s £86 per second. that’s quite a lot of money. it’s cheaper to eat less cake.
certain items of equipment in the sport are ‘gateway drugs‘. i would certainly count the powermeter under this nefarious sub-section. it’s a very very expensive piece of kit that measures how much power you are putting out. once you have one of these it leads to a radical reassessment of how and why you cycle. it’s used by the top athletes in the field and the professionals; it’s also used by a lot of the very quick and some of the not so quick riders locally.
there are so many ‘marginal gains‘ to be had; the pursuit of these can be debilitating. better to just get on your bike and ride the thing, faster. in fact, there is a racing method that encapsulates this kind of approach, it’s called ‘PLF’, i used it today in a hardrider event.