GCN’s Hour Record Challenge: Making Ollie Aero

(upbeat music) – Welcome to part two of my quest to take on the hour record and see if I can beat Eddy Merckx, the greatest cyclist of all time. (upbeat music) A quick recap, the hour
record is beautifully simple. It’s how far you can ride
around a velodrome in one hour. It was first done in
1873 on a penny farthing and since then it’s been regarded as the ultimate test for a cyclist. The 1972, Eddy Merckx, the
greatest of all time, set a record distance of 49.431 kilometers, this has long been
regarded as a benchmark. Merckx’ record was performed
on standard equipment and it stood until the
1980s when it was beaten through the use of better technology, and that then started a period where it was continually
beaten by the best riders of the day, employing imbalances
in aerodynamic technology. Now, Merckx, is an
exceptionally gifted athlete. Physiologically, I am no where near him. I could never hope to
produce anywhere near as much power as the Belgian cannibal who ate steaks and bike
races for breakfast. I’m training as hard as I can. I’m going to be the fittest out of a beer and I’ve never trained this
hard, with as much structure and discipline as I am doing with the help of expert coaches, Neil
Henderson and Mark Hassen from the Sufferfest. (upbeat music) They’ve subjected me to some
really intense fitness tests and the brutal assessment to groom reality is that even with the best
training in the world, the fitness games that I’m going to see aren’t going to get me anywhere
near Eddy on their own. However, if you think that getting fitter through the Sufferfest is the only weapon in my armory, then you clearly
haven’t been paying attention because I didn’t spend 10 years
at university for nothing, oh, no, I’m going to use science. See, the thing is when
traveling at 50 kilometers an hour, 90% of the resistance
that I’m going to encounter is through aerodynamic drag. Now, in theory, using
science and technology, if I can get sufficiently
more aerodynamic, I should be able to ride faster than Eddy for much less power. (upbeat music) Since the Merckx era, bikes and clothing have become
far more aerodynamic, and we’ve also seen
technology from other sports such as Formula 1 come into cycling and have a huge impact,
which is why I’ve come here to the Boardman Performance
Wind Tunnel near Evesham. I’m going to be meeting
with Dr. Zavia Disley of Aerocoach, he’s an aerodynamicist, an engineer who helps top level and elite cyclists become as aerodynamic and as fast as possible. He’s also going to be helping
me become as aerodynamic and as fast as possible, probably his toughest challenge yet. (upbeat music) This is the bike Merckx used. His clothing was basic
by modern standards too. Modern bikes allow riders to get into far more
aerodynamic positions, and the latest frame tube
shapes and cutting-edge fabrics that can be worn also
reduce drag significantly. If used the kind of setup
Merckx had, I would not have a prayer of getting anywhere
near 49.431 kilometers. The amount of power a cyclist can produce can be expressed in watts. Having tested this kind of setup in the wind tunnel, we can calculate that it I were to use Merckx’
equipment, I would have to produce 440 watts for an hour. Considering I can currently
do around 280 watts, this would be impossible for me. Nerd aler now (ringing noises), but pay attention because I
promise it will be worth it. When we measure how
aerodynamic an object is, for example, in the wind
tunnel, we calculate its drag co-efficient,
this is called the CDA. It doesn’t have any
units, it’s just a number, and the lower the number,
the more aerodynamic a given object is. For example, a sphere is
set to have a CDA of 0.47, whereas an aerofoil is
set to have a CDA of 0.04, a much smaller number, it’s a
much more aerodynamic object. The reason why I would have to produce so much more power
with a Merckx style setup is because my CDA would be
0.29 which coincidentally is the same as a Nissan 350-Z. The world’s best male time trialists like Tom Dumoulin typically have a CDA of around 0.18 to 0.20
which coincidentally is the same as a General
Motors EV-1 electric car. Interestingly, the worlds
best women athletes like Chloe Dygert often have a lower CDA than the world’s best men because women are typically smaller. Anyway, if I can get my drag coefficient and my CDA into the realms
of these pro athletes then the amount of power I need to produce to equal or better Eddy Merckx
becomes much more feasible, potentially into the
realms of around 300 watts which is potentially something I could do. We’re now going to look at the difference that modern clothing can make, and Nopens have kindly
agreed to support us with aerodynamic clothing
so we can demonstrate this, starting with an aerodynamic
jersey and shorts, the kind of equipment that you’d wear in a race or a road ride. I’m also going to be testing
on my time trial bike. The reason for this is
that we’re mainly looking at the different position makes, and this bike has loads
of adjustability in it which will allow us to
test different things. For the actual attempt, I will be using a dedicated trap bike as they are faster and slightly more aerodynamic,
but for now this is ideal. (upbeat music) – So, what we’re doing now with Ollie is getting some baseline data, so his starting position,
which we’re going to do with bips and jersey,
and a normal road helmet and we’re testing him at 50 kilometers now because that’s pretty
much the speed he needs to go to break the record that Merckx did. – [Oliver] We’re now going to
put on the time trial helmet and see how that drops
my drag coefficient. (upbeat music) – [Zavia] We’re also going
to do a bike-only run, and what that allows
us to do is to see out of the total drag, what
percentage of the drag is Ollie and what percentage is the bike. We know that the rider
accounts for the vast majority of the aero drag, but
it would be nice to see how much of it exactly is for Ollie. (upbeat music) – Now that Zav has established the 29% of my drag is my
bike, and roughly 71% is me. What we cover me in
becomes hugely significant, so this is the brand new
new Nopens flow suit. It’s just been approved
from the Tokyo Olympics. It features a brand new hi-tech
fabric called speed scale which is supposed to be
excellent at reducing drag in lots of different scenarios. I’m also wearing some special flow covers. These are integrated shoe
covers and aero socks, and they actually make
a measurable difference. The turbular airflow around
your moving legs means that if you can cover it in
something that reduces drag, it’s really useful, but
let’s see how much lower this makes my drag coefficient. (upbeat music) That’s been a really productive
session in the wind tunnel. We’ve managed to get my drag
coefficient down to 0.18 which is really competitive,
it means I’m pretty aerodynamic and I’m also really confident because once I get on a track bike with a double disk wheel setup, I’ll be even more aerodynamic in theory, but being able to be
aero in the wind tunnel is one thing, doing it for real and putting the power out on the track is a completely different thing, so that’s what we’re going to do next. I’m going to go to the track
and I’m going to try riding at our record pace in the
positions and see what happens. (upbeat music) I’m just about to ride
this BMC for the first time on the boards and do a little
bit of a warmup, main wattage. (upbeat music) I’ve got a lot to do, well, I
feel like I’ve got a lot to do because this is all
new riding ’round track and holding the black line,
and there’s an art to it, and there’s a deceptive
amount of technique. I think the best people in the world, when they do it, and you
watch them on the Olympics, they make it look easy, but you forget that they’re professionals, but I feel confident I think just riding that ’round, going around 46 kilometers an hour felt quite comfortable, so, yeah, I feel good but nervous. – In order to measure
Ollie’s aerodynamic drag around the velodrome, we
have the track aero system which is a system of software and hardware which takes all the data off his bike and then transmits it to the computer and we can see his CDA
or aerodynamic drag live in real terms every single
second as he rides ’round. What I’m going to do now is
put a small sensor on his bike which will connect to our kits and then we’ll get him out on track and see what his CDA is on this new bike. (upbeat music) Take two laps to wind down, that’s fine. (upbeat music) – So, I’ve done an aero
testing session in Newport. That’s what you hear is
a bit of the noise now because there’s a tourney whizzing around, but I hope there’s some good news out. – There is good news, Ollie.
– Thank you, good. – What’s great about what
we’ve found out today is that even though you haven’t ridden on a set of aero bars
around the track before, although you do have a lot of experience with time trials, we’ve
managed to match the CDA, the aerodynamic drag
that we saw in the tunnel in the time trial bike ’round
here in a more live scenario, on a very alien bike to you that you hadn’t ridden before.
– Yeah. – So, we did do some
runs where you’re riding at record pace, where
we were focusing more on seeing how well you
can hold a position rather than just what the CDA says on the screen. – What’s it saying? – The starting CDA was similar
to the starting CDA you saw on the CT bike in the tunnel, you’d set the bikes up
relatively similarly. – So, hands were like that? – But your hands were
a bit lower, exactly? – Are there any other
gains that I can make? Can I get even faster? – The good news is is that you’ve only just set the bike up, and
we’ve made a few tweaks to it, but there are some
more mechanical things that we can play with. The front disk is a good one,
so that will help speed you up a little bit, we’ve already done some work on tire pressure which was
another improvement still, and then also the drive train. So, if we get you a carbon drive train and get the chain line exactly
perfect, that will help, and then the last thing is the front end. We’re going to build you some
custom carbon aero-extensions just to squeeze out
every last little watt. – Right, well, thanks for today, man. – That’s all right.
– Yeah, it’s been great and I’ve got a long way to go, but, yeah–
– Get some hard training in and you’ll be fine.
(laughing) – Right, right. It’s been really cool riding around the track in the velodrome and getting the aerodynamic data, and the exciting and really
interesting thing now is that I can send that
data over to Neil or Mark from the Sufferfest and
then they can tell me what I’m going to need
to do physiologically in order to achieve my goal
and how much power I’ll need to produce, hopefully it’s not 400 watts because I can’t do 400 watts. (laughing) Good seeing you. – [Neil] Definitely, Oliver,
very good to see you. Sorry I’m here alone today. Mac might still be in a plane. He’s on his way to Australia for the Track World Cup
in Brisbane this weekend. – Well, he’s got a good excuse then. I’ll forgive him. – [Neil] Yeah, a reasonable excuse. – So, looking at my CDA data that we’ve managed to get
from the track and the tunnel, how does that translate
physiologically now in terms of what I’m going to have to do with it to achieve this? – Ultimately, there is
basically a cost associated with any given CDA as well
as air density conditions, so if we think of air density,
that’s temperature, pressure, and saturation, so using
the values at Newport, if we get the temperature there to about 25 degrees celsius,
assuming that the humidity is around 50% or so with
a barometric pressure of about 10 millibars, that puts the air density at about 1.17. For your weight, there’s a
rolling resistance component as well, so you plus
bike is going to probably be somewhere around 76-77 kilograms total, and giving you a nice fast
tire rolling resistance, a rolling resistance of
probably closer to 0.0025, it’s going to require to go
49.43 kilometers per hour, speed approximately 304 watts. That’s the current cost with that CDA. – [Oliver] What sort of training and stuff can we do going forward to try and get my power
up to hopefully even more than that over the next week? – Yeah, there’s two components
that we’re going to look at. Number one is actually
continuing to push on some of that upper ceiling to work
that aerodynamic position because that ceiling does set a little bit what is possible, what is
sustainable underneath that, so we’re going to keep
pushing up that ceiling. The other thing that
that’s going to help you do is be able to tolerate
that standing start effort because clearly there’s a
pretty significant demand of getting accelerated
up to nearly 50k an hour in just 15-20 seconds. Secondary to that, we’re
going to be working on that threshold and that FTP, but instead of doing long
efforts at and above, we’re going to predominantly
state just below to push up that threshold
rather than go above it and try to pull it up. If we think about some of the adaptations, we’re trying to be able
to have a high flux of lactate at that threshold point. That’s part of it, it’s about being able to take up and utilize
what is being produced. There’s some component
of our general endurance to produce less lactate, but when we start to work harder, we are
producing a lot of it and so it’s actually enhancing
that flux rate, sound fun? – Yeah, I’m up for it, I’m up for it. I’m going to give it everything. All right, well, I’m going to have to go. It was great talking to you today, Neil, and I’ll catch up with you next week. – [Neil] All right, good luck, Oliver. – I’ve learned a lot the last few days. It’s been really interesting and I’m under no illusions as to how hard this is going to be. I feel like I’m climbing a
mountain, Mt. Sufferlandria. This is a lot of work to do, but getting more aerodynamic
has given me some confidence that what we’re doing, there is a chance that I can pull this off, so
I’m going to keep training and this is the most structured,
most disciplined training I’ve ever done in my life, but
I’m going to give it my all, and if you enjoyed this
video, then please give it a thumbs up, and if you’d
like to stay updated on my progress, there’s going
to be continual weekly updates in the GCN show, there’s also going to be some longer form videos like this one, so stay tuned for those. Click the bell, subscribe,
you know the drill. There’s also going to be
updates on my social media, so on Instagram and Scrobber too, and the attempt is
scheduled, at the moment, for the 17th of February in Newport, but in the meantime, let
me know how you’re getting on with your own Sufferfest
hours of power down in the comments section below, and I’ll see you next time.