Time Trial Observation Part 1: Position and Shifting in the Saddle

Hello, this is Saita from LEOMO.

In late June, national championships were held around the world, and new national champions were born. Over the course of several blog posts, I will discuss my preparations for the Japanese National Road Race & Time Trial Championships.



I think that athletes who are used to just riding a road bike have trouble with positioning when they transition to a TT bike. The deep, forward leaning posture specific to the time trial, the nature of a competition that requires few variations in power, the geometry of the bike–these are all very different from a road bike.


As a way to assess my position on the TT bike I will look at how often I am shifting in the saddle using the Pelvic Angle MPI. Feeling that something isn’t right or that you’re in an unfamiliar position, the frequency of shifting in the saddle is typically increased.

 

Figure 1: Pelvic Angle during time trial practice on a flat, straight road


See Figure 1. The points where the Pelvic Angle graph points downward, like a needle, represent each time I shifted in the saddle. I collected TYPE-R data during four, 15-20 minutes efforts where I adjusted my bike position and/or body position between each trial. All of the trials (except TT-1) were performed on a  flat, straight road. The results, shown in Figure 2, display the average number of seconds between each shift in the saddle for each trial.

 

Figure 2: Average time between each shift in the saddle


The bike position changes and the difference in body posture awareness during each trial  were as follows.


TT-1: I started with a  predetermined position on an indoor trainer for this trial. I was conscious of aero form, lowering my head as much as possible so as to reduce air resistance. Compared to riding on a road bike, this position felt difficult to maintain power and fatigue in my thighs.


TT-2: I didn’t change the bike setting from TT-1, but instead I kept my upper body higher rather than focusing on staying aero. This position felt easier to generate power, however I was aware that there was a lot of air resistance and this position would be slower.


TT-3: Since I had a feeling that I was not able to use my glutes and surrounding muscles, I moved the saddle 2mm back and 2mm lower from the TT-2 position. I adopted aero form again and it was not as hard as TT- 1, but it was still difficult to maintain power compared to a road bike.


TT- 4: I dropped the saddle another 2mm from TT- 3. With this change I felt that I was able to engage my glute muscles more.


Race: I brought the extensions closer by 10 mm from TT- 4. I was also aware of focusing on trunk stability to strengthen and stabilize my body. Since it was a race, I was very conscious of my aero position, doing my best to stay low and reduce drag. The race felt the best and most powerful out of all the trials.


Compared to TT-1, TT-3, and TT-4, when I rode in aero form, the frequency of shifting in the saddle decreased. And as can be seen in TT-2, even with the same bike set up as in TT-1, by having a comfortable posture the frequency of shifting in the saddle decreases and we can see from the race data (although the setting around the handlebar also changes) that due to the difference in awareness of how the body is being used, shifting in the saddle is improved.


It can be said that it is important to have a bike position where you can ride in aero form but also a relaxed posture. Why not try using the frequency of shifting in the saddle as one way to help access your position on a TT bike?

Check out Time Trial Observation Part 2


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