Wednesday, May 14, 2008

MIT Wind Tunnel

I can’t believe its Wednesday evening and I’m just now getting the chance to post a weekend recap of my trip to Boston. First off, I love that city. This was my first visit and I fell in love with its rich history and vibrant character. We did most of our sight seeing while running or biking, which I loved, but someday I’d like to return and explore at a slower pace.

The wind tunnel experience was incredible. Thankfully Gear West Bike & Tri has a zealous approach to quality, and with that, everything was planned and ready to go Saturday morning. Initially when I was asked to go to the Wind Tunnel, I debated if this was something I needed. Well, I guess ‘needed’ remains to be seen, but I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m SO glad I went.

Thankfully I did not test first…let’s just say I could have frozen to death (ok maybe that’s exaggerated, but I would have suffered). The tunnel temp that morning was 50 degrees and couple that with the 30+mph wind, and your facing serious wind chill. After all, you’re not going to wear warm bulky clothes in there-The dragometer would be off the charts!

Although I did not hear the marquee call the Engineers made to the Power plant informing them of their intention to start up the tunnel (2 mega Watts at start up requires warning), with the noise, I was well aware we were ready to go.

Luckily it approached 60degrees by the time I tested. My first few tests focused on stack height, then we moved onto aerobar angle. That was pretty interesting, as it seems my drag factor was optimal as my bars approached 30 degrees. “True Floyd Landis style”. I don’t think I could ride that way, especially for an Ironman, but I will probably settle in closer to 15 degrees (originally I was at 3 degrees). I also tested the Zipp aerobars, my aero helmet vs. non-aero helmet, and the drag factor of different clothing. I used a skin suit as my baseline, then I moved into a Speedo fastskin flowed by a two piece (tri short and tri top). Once again, no data analysis yet, but I’m looking forward to the results.

A special thanks to my Tunnel Sherpa’s Kevin and Kris who flawlessly reconfigured my bike throughout my entire test. They were so unbelievably efficient, which is of utmost importance when tunnel time in limited and expensive. Additionally a special kudos to David and Hanna, both MIT grads who established my testing protocol, and will soon provide my data in ‘non-MIT’ language.
Post testing, we enjoyed a quality 60 min run through downtown Boston all while viewing the historic sites, including the Boston Marathon finish line. I love the fact that the finish line is painted on the street in the middle of downtown. We enjoyed a wonderful Seafood dinner at Legal Seafood’s, then took the T downtown to Faneuil Hall for shopping.
Sunday morning David and I hit the MIT track, and although I did not partake in his sub 5 min mile repeats, I did have a good speed session. After the run, we rejoined our group for a beautiful bike ride to Concord. We had a nice size group, with seven of us from the Cities, and a few members of the MIT cycling team. Total saddle time was over 4 hours. You can check out a 5 min video of our ride here on Yndecam. Afterwards, it was time for a quick shower, fast fuel, and to the airport for a 6pm flight.

As I reflect on the weekend, I’m shocked at how much we did in such a short time. Indeed, with all of us being Type-A triathletes, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Next up: The local multisport season kicks off this weekend with the Gear West Duathlon. This is the first race in the 10 race Midwest Multisport series, so it will be fast and competitive. Although I’m excited to catch up with the local racers, I am well aware that the HURT FACTOR WILL BE HIGH. I love to swim, and when the guns goes off on Sunday, and everyone takes off at Mach speed… I’ll be looking for the nearest pond to start my swim!!

Best of luck to everyone racing this weekend-HAVE FUN!