Thursday, January 13, 2011

Scott Zwizanski at the Wind Tunnel

Cadence Case Study: Scott Zwizanksi

Part I: More Than Meets the Eye

Cadence athlete Scott Zwizanksi works with Cadence Cycling & Multisport Coaches to determine potential of his time-trial position in advance of trip to wind tunnel.

Time trial specialist and Cadence-coached athlete Scott Zwizanksi is busy preparing for the 2011 season with his new team, United HealthCare. When Scott’s new team joined forces with legendary time trial specialist Chris Boardman and the Boardman line of bikes, an opportunity arose to get Scott into the wind tunnel to squeeze the most out of his position. With full support from United HealthCare team staff, Scott’s long-time coach Brian Walton identified an opportunity to maximize his athlete’s position before he even stepped a foot into the wind tunnel. By combining the Cadence coaching staff’s knowledge of biomechanical fitting and physiological testing with United HealthCare’s resources, the question remained; how much faster could we make Scott Zwizanski?

Before Scott attended a two-day wind tunnel testing session at the A2 Wind Tunnel in North Carolina, he worked extensively with Cadence coaches Colin Sandberg and Brady Gibney to collect data and hone his position. The goal; optimize Scott’s time trial position for biomechanics and physiological efficiency so that United HealthCare and A2 wind tunnel staff understand the effective ranges in which Scott’s body can tolerate improvements to aerodynamics. Even in the ranks of professional cycling and triathlon, there must be a marriage between the most effective aerodynamic position and the most effective biomechanical position. Put simply, Scott needed to know just how much his body could be modified on the time-trial bike for the sake of aerodynamics without sacrificing sizeable amounts of power. It is a balancing act between low drag, max wattage and going fast. If Scott could go into the A2 wind tunnel in a powerful and economical position, he would maximize his resources and leave with the fastest position possible.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to bike fitting, so not every position that looks good is efficient and powerful. Every athlete has a unique set of physiological capacities that demand the fitter to adapt the bike to the rider, not vice versa. With this in mind, Colin and Brady began a two-day fit examination that would analyze Scott’s old position and determine how his body would adapt to new positions. After making adjustments to his “old” fit,  data was collected by having Scott perform VO2Max and Economy tests with each corresponding position. With an Economy test, we were not just measuring maximal oxygen uptake – we were studying to see how oxygen utilization is effected by different positions at different power outputs. Measuring Scott’s economy allowed us to see specific oxygen usage for different positions, painting a better picture of just how precisely his body could adapt to different positions in the wind tunnel.

Here was the caveat, though; the UCI, the governing body of cycling, limits the degree of changes a rider can make to his position. So Colin and Brady had to analyze Scott’s position, maximize it for power and efficiency, and prep it for aerodynamic modifications in the wind tunnel…all while keeping within UCI dimensional regulations for a time trial bicycle. We knew that Scott generates power from tremendous leg speed as opposed to mashing low gears, so getting him over the bottom bracket for an open hip angle without violating UCI regulations was a significant issue.

We will be using Scott Zwizanksi’s case study as a means to educate readers on the effectiveness of an individualized bike fit done by professionals. Our hope is that by giving an inside look at our work with Scott, readers will understand the intricacies of a bicycle fit and just how exactly our coaches work with each athlete for the best possible result. 

We will begin in our next blog with a more thorough explanation of how Colin Sandberg and Brady Gibney were able to maximize Scott’s fit by taking into consideration the variables of new equipment, UCI regulations, and Scott’s physiological capabilities to adapt to new positions. Please look for Part II: Individual Fit Priorities next week.  

No comments:

Post a Comment