Ben Norbury is four times Manchester & District Middle Distance and Best All Rounder Time Trial Champion from 2016-2019. During this time he developed software to eliminate uncertainty of the weather conditions out of his pre-race preparation.
Imagine a world where every pedal stroke you take not only captures data on your cycling performance but also unveils deeper insights into your future rides. With myWindsock’s revolutionary weather modeling technology, your power meter’s data becomes a gateway to enhanced weather forecasts and performance insights.
Unveiling the Power of Weather Modeling
At the heart of myWindsock lies its advanced weather modeling capabilities. By combining cutting-edge artificial intelligence algorithms with real-time weather data, myWindsock creates a comprehensive picture of atmospheric conditions specifically tailored to the locations and routes where you ride. But what sets myWindsock apart is its unique integration with your power meter data, elevating the weather modeling process to new heights.
The Marriage of Power Meter Data and Weather Modeling
myWindsock analyzes your performance data with key external factors like wind, temperature, and elevation. This sport specific analysis enhances its weather models, resulting in highly accurate forecasts customized for your unique cycling conditions.
Unlocking your Aerodynamics
The true magic happens when myWindsock leverages the power of your power meter data and refined weather models to provide aerodynamic insights. Using your power meter to improve your aerodynamics is the single biggest return on your investment.
The benefits of Premium
Enhance your rides by adding aerodynamics analysis to every Strava activity or uploaded file. Benefit from AI-powered forecasting, leveraging your past data to plan and optimize future activities. Gain valuable insights and improve your performance as you ride faster and explore new horizons. Embrace myWindsock’s features and unlock the full potential of your cycling experience.
Using myWindsock’s cycling physics engine we raced two bikes. One a road bike and the other a time trial bike. We raced the three times at different power outputs, 150, 250 and 350 Watts. These are the sort of power numbers that might represent what a beginner, intermediate and advanced rider might do for a 25 mile time trial.
We have used a myWindsock forecast in order to see the impact of the time trial bike on the road. You’ll notice from the graphic below that we have kept the system mass and rolling resistance the same such that the difference is solely due to the time trial bike.
The course we chose was a typical UK 10 mile time trial course. You can view this course here. All Cycling Time Trials courses are available to view in myWindsock.
Below are the results of the test. On the left we have the time lost by the road bike and the distance travelled along the bottom.
As expected the time trial bike is significantly faster than the road bike. For a rider producing 150 Watts they will lose close to 7 minutes on a road bike. We often hear people saying “I’m not fast enough for a time trial bike”, however what is clear from the above graph is, the less power you have the more time you will lose choosing the less aerodynamic option. In terms of absolute time savings, a TT bike is better value for a slower rider!
Why is a time trial bike faster?
A time trial bike is designed to be faster than a traditional road bike, hence the price hike, in time trials for a few key reasons:
Aerodynamics: Time trial bikes are designed with aerodynamics in mind. The frame, wheels, and components are shaped to reduce air resistance, allowing the rider to move through the air more efficiently. Much of this comes from the position the rider is able to hold due to the arm rests and aero-extensions. This position is not allowed in traditional bunch racing due to the chance of a crash as the brakes can’t be immediately reached.
Geometry: Time trial bikes have a more aggressive geometry than traditional road bikes, with a steeper seat tube angle and longer top tube. This puts the rider in a more aerodynamic position than they’d be able to achieve on a road bike with clip on bars, reducing wind resistance even further.
Integrated components: Time trial bikes often feature integrated components, such as handlebars and brake levers, which further reduce drag and streamline the bike’s profile. This can make them difficult to work on – often turning what would be a simple fix on a road bike into a complicated job for a mechanic in a bike shop.
Wheel choice: Time trial bikes often use deeper section wheels, which are more aerodynamic than traditional road bike wheels. Wheels deeper than 90mm aren’t allowed under CTT’s (the UK’s governing body for time trials) road bike TT rules.
All of these factors combine to make time trial bikes faster than traditional road bikes in time trials. However, it’s important to note that time trial bikes are not necessarily faster in all situations. They are designed specifically for time trials, and may not be as comfortable or efficient for longer, more varied rides.
If you’re looking to get into time trials but are worried about not having the right equipment – Cycling Time Trials have introduced a road bike category at all their events! Make sure you’re prepared with myWindsock – perfect for planning and analysing your time trials.
The Wind Lines on the myWindsock map give you an intuitive view of the course and the prevailing wind direction. The Wind Lines are colour coded blue for tailwind, red for headwinds. See the wind arrows, they show the wind direction and the wind speed for all locations on the route. See wind arrow icons for more details.
2. Feels Like Elevation
Knowing what to expect is a crucial part of your pre race preparation. The Feels Like Elevation chart is the perfect chart to describe how the road will feel when the elevation has been adjusted for the wind resistance. You now know just how the road will feel.
3. Where power matters most
Knowing where to focus your precious energy is a crucial part of time trialing. This is where the chart “Where Power Matters Most” is a vital tool in your pre race preparation. The orange sections on this chart show where power has the greatest affect on your time. The deeper the orange the more important those Watts are!
4. Rolling Average Speed
Now this one is for your Chimp, you know that voice that is saying, “you’re going too slow!”. This chart shows how you can expect your average speed to change during the event. For example, an uphill or headwind start will keep your average speed lower than your target average speed. The better way is to understand how your average speed will evolve from the start to finish so you can stick to your plan.
How windy is too windy? We’ve analysed the weather of millions of bike rides. Here’s what we found in answer to this question.
You may be wondering, “what is the maximum safe wind speed for cycling?”. Whilst this will largely depend on your experience as a cyclist, we decided to look at our weather analysis of millions of bikes rides for the answer.
It seems that most cyclists do not cycle when the wind is above 20 mph average wind speed. Remember gusts will often be much higher than the average wind speed. We advise you to ride in weather that you feel comfortable and not to take risks.
Due to a very serious spinal injury, myWindsock founder Ben, had 12 months without cycling. He returns to cycling 5Kg (11 lbs) heavier. How much slower can he expect to be? See the Instagram post below.
We are all about real world riding, so we picked a very typical 25 mile course, on an average UK spring day. This course has some small ups and downs but would be categorised as flat. You can try the course yourself here, J4/8.
Our experiment was acrross 3 power ranges, 100, 200 and 300 Watts. Look at the chart below to see the differences between the powers. The differences are considerable. Remember, the time affect of a resistance compounds the slower you are moving. Less power, greater cost. No more, “I’m too slow for that upgrade” 😉
Often cyclists are surprised by how little time weight costs on a flat course. We are told lighter is always better and to upgrade to the lightest components. As you can see losing weight will have an affect on your speed, but we hope this will keep everything in perspective when making lifestyle and financial choices.
How to try your own experiments
The beauty of myWindsock is that all the variables are accounted for, Physics, Weather & Performance. This allows you to get real world test results in a virtual environment.
Simply pick any route from your “Activities & Routes” menu.
Set the date and time of your experiment for the most accurate cycling weather.
Take a look at the below graphic for this week’s Manchester District 10 mile. If you subscribe to myWindsock Strava Activity emails you may have already seen a similar graphic for your own rides. If not, activate your emails here.
56.4% headwind isn’t good news! However it is only through viewing the Feels Like Elevation graph beneath that we begin to see what affect the wind will have on the course.
Relating the wind to it’s equivalent elevation gain is one of the ways we are helping to describe the weather for cyclists. Learn more about Feels Like Elevation.
So what does this tell us? Initially we see an easing of the course profile due to the tailwind start. Then, once the headwind begins, the road begins to feel harder than the traditional elevation profile would suggest.
Graphs like Feels Like Elevation can be found for any past activity and any future ride forecast. Simply select the route from you Activities & Routes menu to begin.
If you haven’t already signed up for myWindsock Weather & Analysis, start here.
To find out the difference between Winter and Summer, we ran a simulation for every day of 2022. That’s 365 times around the Ely & District course! We ran the myWindsock simulations at 300 Watts, 80kg, 0.200 CdA. Here’s what we found.
You can see from the above graph the day to day the variability of times for the BS19 course due to the weather. Time range from 55 minutes in Winter Months to 53 minutes in the Summer.
Another thing to note is the seasonal day to day variability, that is the difference between two days of the same week or month. In the Winter we can see this is around 60 seconds, however times are a little more consistent in the Summer at around 30 seconds. Good job myWindsock give’s you the tools to measure the impact of the Weather.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t a gift day. In fact it was around 1 second slower than Ed Laverack’s KOM day! We’ll call that one even. Air Speed is the speed of the airflow around the rider. We’ve shown the speed difference from ground speed here.
Overall power was 8 Watts higher, giving Tom a 24 second advatange. That’s a huge 6.6Watts/kg!
Next an assumption on System Weight. That is the weight of rider, bike and kit. Rider stats show Tom as 1 kg lighter. This finds Tom another 15 seconds.
Now the big one, Aero! Tom finds a massive 72 seconds. Reducing air resistance from 14.3% down to 10%. The aero Tom has here, is the equivalent to a very well tuned Time Trial Bike position. So we’d assume some assistance here.