Fit Profile: Annick Chalier goes Faster on Fewer Watts?
As cyclists with power meters, we tend to think more is better, right? More watts/more power = more speed, correct? Well, that's not always the case. Sometimes, it just means more work. The biggest power expenditure a rider makes is simply to overcome wind resistance as they move forward through the air.
Annick Chalier came to us with an issue: she was making really big watts, but going slower than her competitors. When she went down to the Chico Stage Race this past March, she averaged a whopping 285 watts over 9.86 miles, covering the distance in 25:24. She managed 4.8 watts/kg, which is a very high number. The problem? She only ended up mid-pack, despite hitting higher wattages than almost every rider around her. She gave us a call.
As you can see from the picture above, Annick's old position was fairly upright, with her hands horizontal and her head well above her back, which rounded a good bit more than we'd like to see for someone who doesn't have to run off the bike afterward. She came in to see us, and here is her position, replicated on our fit bike.
Same thing, right? Head up, back sloping upwards. We moved Annick through a series of changes, steepening her seat tube angle and rotating her pelvis forward, so she could get lower in front. Here is where we ended up:
A much more aggressive position. We coached Annick to lower her head and look forward through her eyebrows, got her a little higher in the saddle, and rotated that pelvis forward. We knew we'd be sacrificing some power in this position, but we suggested that she would be able to go faster at lower watts. The proof is in the pudding, however, and if this position didn't work from a comfort perspective, then it wouldn't matter. Annick, ever the brave one, went off to test the new position at a 40k TT a few hours south of Portland this past weekend.
The result speaks for itself. Annick went under 60 minutes for 40k, averaging 24.8 MPH over the 59:39 it took her to cover the distance. During that time, she averaged 268 watts, or 17 watts lower than her TT at Chico. So she was able to go faster, at a lower level of effort, for 2.5 times the distance. How was the comfort? "This felt...GREAT!" she reported to us afterwards. It feels great to us too, Annick, and we're super proud that we could be of service.
Why not you, too? Book a fit with us over on our main page, and let's see how much faster we can make you? Comfort + Power + Aerodynamics = Speed.