Thursday, April 12, 2012

How To - Position Changes

I've posted about how your optimal position is fluid - it's not a static thing, it moves around a bit. I shuffle my saddle position around a bit, mainly trying to optimize for whatever batch of races is coming up. For my A races I have the saddle a bit higher, for ultimate speed, and for the others I'll sometimes go lower. In the off season I almost always lower my saddle, partially to allow for the extra thickness of tights, but also because my pedaling needs change from rapid changes of pace to a more steady drawn out kind of thing. Think doing a 7 corner crits in the summer versus a two hour climb in the off season.

So saddle position isn't always constant. This holds true even for experienced pros.

I suppose one could make the argument that the pros have different positions on their time trial bikes versus their regular ones. For example you never see a team mechanic sawing the nose off of a regular road bike, but there are a lot of "modified" saddles on time trial rigs. Time trials favor a more forward position for all sorts of reasons. It's the position I adapt for my road bike when I'm approaching an A race because I can't take advantage of the sustained power a lower saddle gives the rider.

Even if you ignore the time trial bikes, pros will still change their position.

Bernard Hinault, towards the end of his career (he announced he'd retire when he was 32 and he did), fitted a one cm longer stem (and I think he dropped it a centimeter too) and went out and soloed to victory shortly thereafter in that year's Tour of Lombardia.

I posted in a thread about pro race predictions and confidently stated that we wouldn't be seeing Boonen at the top of any results sheets this year. What I didn't know was that he was changing in his approach to the year.

Significantly, at least in my eyes, he made some relatively radical position changes.

In fact he made a number of changes to his set up going into 2012. His saddle position went up a centimeter, he went with two centimeter narrower bars, his brake levers appear noticeably lower than in prior seasons (not "jacked" like before), and he, well, he did well for himself.

In fact he won four major one day races, two in field sprints, one in a three up sprint, and one solo.

He's won in every scenario possible. Okay, except when there are longer climbs. The short, punchy climbs are fine, the longer ones, not so much.

As I read about Boonen's latest victory, over and over and over and over, I kept thinking that I need to bake a cake that says "My Words" on it and eat it, because of my failed prediction that we wouldn't see Boonen win anything. He's basically won everything so far, about the most opposite of my prediction.

(Someone suggested making cupcakes as I'll have to make so many of these cakes. Thanks for the help.)

I'd beg forgiveness in my wildly wrong predictions. Had I known he was tuning his position, I might have predicted differently.

Now the other prediction I had was that Levi would win the Tour.

We'll see how that goes. I just hope that he fiddled with his position for 2012 also.

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