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TT bars for the 500 – Worth It?

In the world of masters sprinters, the pursuit of optimal equipment and riding positions is a never-ending, and ever-spending, quest. Today, we delve into a topic that's sparked debates among sprinters: the choice between time trial (TT) bars and drop bars in the 500m. While some may dismiss it as a trivial matter, we're here to make a case for why the answer might just be a resounding "YES."


Let's Talk Frontal Area:

Now, buckle up for some junk science. Before we dive in, a disclaimer: this isn't a scientific study, just some intriguing insights. If you're itching to debate, kindly set up your soapbox elsewhere – I'm just a dummy sprinter with the report cards to prove it.


The Approach:

Last year, armed with a GoPro camera, four FGA riders chased the moto at the Burnaby track. We captured stills in both base bar and TT positions during these hard efforts, providing a more realistic snapshot than the static position on a stationary trainer.


Nonsense Math at Play:

Selective stills were scaled to ensure a comparable size, and the silhouettes vector-traced from the base bar, up. A pixel count was then extracted, giving us a ballpark figure for the variance in frontal area.


Observsations:

All four riders experienced a noteworthy reduction in frontal area when adopting the TT bars (see image, below). Now, cynics might argue, "Internationally, the best 500m women all use drop bars." True, but as masters, we have to acknowledge that we'll fade way sooner than these world class athletes. With the fade in mind, I think it supports the need for us to pursue every possible aero advantage within our reach.


UPDATE: On Jan 5, 2024, I raced the Canadian National 500m Time Trial on my TT Bars. I won gold and set a new Canadian Masters C Record.

2022 (Drop Bars): 36.073s

2024 (TT Bars): 35.121s (-0.952s)


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