Sunday, April 26, 2009

30th Athens Twilight Crit Results. DESIGN DRIVEN!

Behind every great race car is a computer-aided design (CAD) engineering, and manufacturing team.

 A motor is a motor right?  Wrong!  There are many types of motors and they are designed for different needs.  They rate their power by using the term "horsepower" just like we do on a bike.  More horses, more go power!

We all hear the term, but do you really know what "horsepower" is? We talk about  your watts all the time, so let's attempt to make some horsesense of it all and provide a model that might make the understanding of measurement easy.

For ten years now, week after week, someone is racing in their neck of the woods. "Let's go racing Boys & Girls".  Why?  Because its fun, its a goal to shoot for and it's great test to see how you rate, plus if some idea works or not!  One thing is sure, if you are hurting, you are not going to perform well.  Many will say, but I don't race, but they are the ones who are always unable or getting sore.  So you wish to make music, but your are too lazy to tune the strings?

Again, who cares? We do! We call it "DESIGN DRIVEN" and if your not winning you need to be in the hunt, to run with the pack in your type sport and that might include racing.  It's no fun to be dropped behind because you can't perform.  

Would you gain respect for "worm burning" each drive and have people laugh at you for your poor performance?  No!  They will just find someone else to play with!  So think of it like a motor.

Don't take a NASCAR motor to race a F1 car! You will never win and the car can't handle the speed. When you hit 210 mph, you can really fly off the ground. OK, let's slow down and get grounded that you are on a bike, but understand you can still get air on a bike at much slower speeds e.g mtb, downhill.

First question is what is it you want to do? Understand that running NASCAR is not Indy Cart or F1, even though they are all car races.

Performance comes in different types of races, but you still need to make big horsepower, get the correct aero package, plus learn the skills and handling that comes from that speed. In other words you get what you put into it. Just like snow skis, if you get race stock, don't expect to ski all day! And just because you get race stock gear doesn't mean you can keep a tuck! In most cases, bikes are too stiff, people sit too upright for even the weekend jockey and if you don't get them up to speed, they will beat you up!

Who came up with horsepower anyway? About 300 years ago horses where used to develop rotary power. The horses where hitched to levers attached to a vertical axle. Then a treadmill type pulley. Everyone lived with live horsepower and had a good idea of the power of the horse, then things changed to mechanical steam engines systems and confusion started.

People needed help in understanding. So a man came up with a horsepower formula to rate the power. His name is James Watt and he lived from 1736 to 1819. His work was best known for improving the performance of steam engines. We are also reminded of him every day when we talk about watts i.e. 60-watt light bulbs or the watts we make with our new powermeter.

In the late 1700s, James Watt was working with draft horses lifting coal at a coal mine, and he wanted a way to talk about the power available from one of these animals at (moderately puling rate) over an average day. He found, on average, a mine horse could raise 100 lbs. of coal 220 feet deep and the horse walked the 220 feet to raise the load to the surface in the time of one minute. This amounts to 100 x 220 = 22,000 foot pounds of work per minute.Watt then increased that number by 50% due to the friction, thus (150 x 220 equals 33,000 lbs.) and pegged the measurement of "one horsepower at 33, 000 ft.-pounds of work in one minute".

Its that arbitrary unit of measure that has made its way through the centuries and now appears mostly to cars, but also to your bike or lawn mower! We must point out that we have seen a few people make more than 2.5 horsepower and that was for only 6 seconds and he was a world champ in track and it is said that he hit almost 60mph.

It is important to understand the motor. Many don't know the difference between Indy car, F1, or the motors of NASCAR. F1 run grooved tires and are faster than Indy cars that race on slicks and they are both much faster than NASCAR. Indy cars would get lapped by the slowest F1 pilot.

Blueprinted motors are very much like the (human) engine. To get any % of a horsepower, you need the motor blueprinted, run the correct fuels, get the mph and get the timing right.

Only then can you start to get more comfortable with the car and the circuit. The realism continues to increase from there.

The more speed you make, the more you need to learn how to get aero and there's anti-sliding, anti-skidding that helps acceleration, and much more. There are people who get hurt due to the bad handling of their type of race car dues to the bad handling car (bike). Set someone up for speed and they might not make the turn! In other words, if you have your bike setup for low speeds, you very well can get hurt when you turn up the speed.

Racing cars used to be made of the same sort of materials as road cars, that is steel, aluminum and other metals. In the early 1980's, however Formula 1 racing underwent the beginnings of a revolution that has become its hallmark today: the use of carbon composite materials to build the chassis. Wow! Sounds like cycling!

Today, most of the F1 racing car chassis - the monocoque, suspension, wings & engine cover - is built with carbon fiber. No question, this material has advantages over every other kind of material for racing car (bike) contsruction:
  1. It's super lightweight.
  2. It's super strong.
  3. It's super stiff.
  4. It can be easily molded into all kinds of different shapes.
Today most of the fast cars also have computers that help with the thinking, you being a (human) also needs to think and that comes from your brain and how it has been programed. Performance comes after what you do to set your computer up. Providing the wrong info to your chip is not going to put you ahead of the next person you are attempting to compete. Garbage in, garbage out!

With all motors, if you can't get O2 to the motor, it will not go! As in any engine, there are aftermarket things that can make a difference.

Some debate that we are not motors? That is true, but many to make such a (black or white) statement leads one to think they don't have any any "horse sense" or better understanding of horsepower, its not so much about the "metallury". But you can fine tune the cranks, rods and work on the firing of the pistons and the software.

So you anti-motor folks are more of a "gear or watts head" than you know! It does seem that people discuss the parts used to trick their ride more than the "human engine" for more watts or horsepower.

In Watt's judgement, one horse can do 33,000 ft.-pounds of work every minute. So, imagine you working in a coal mine and 1 horse raising 330 pounds of coal 100 feet in a minute, or 33 pounds of coal 1,000 pounds 33 feet in 1 minute. You can make up whatever combination of feet & pounds you like. As long as the product is 33,000 ft.-pounds in 1 minute, you have a horsepower.

You don't have to be smart to know that you would not want to load 33,000 pounds of coal in a bucket and ask the horse to move it 1 foot in a minute because the horse couldn't budge that big a load. And you can't get a horse to run 33,000 feet in one minute, since that means 375 mph and you or a horse can't run that fast.

Measurement of 1 horsepower is equivalent to 746 watts. So if you took a 1-horsepower horse and put it on a treadmill, it could operate a generator producing a continuous 746 watts. One horsepower (over the course of 1 hour) is equivalent to 2,545 BTU (British thermal units). If you took that 746 watts and ran it through an electric heater for an hour, it would produce 2,545 BTU (where a BTU is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1 degree F.

So one BTU is equal to 1,055 joules, or 252 gram-calories or 0.252 food calories. Presumably, a horse producing 1 horsepower would burn 641 Calories in one hour if it were 100% efficient.

Let's cut to the point. About the only thing that is stock on a NASCAR engine is the 340 V-8 design that came for muscle cars in the 1960s. But they are also custom made and not made from the original engines.

And like the original 1960s engines, the valves are driven by pushrods (long bones) arrangements and most likely not to be the same as the next persons! The engine in today's NASCAR race cars produce upward to 750 horsepower, and they do it without the turbochargers, superchargers or exotic components. So how do they make the horsepower?

  • Displacement is large (Mark Hekman) - Not many cars have engines this big, but the ones that do usually generate well over 300 horsepower.
  • NASCAR engines have extremely radical cam profiles, in which open the intake valves much earlier (getting on the stroke early) and keep them open longer than street cars. This allows more air to be packed into the cylinders, especially at high speeds!
  • Intake & exhaust are tuned and tested to provide a boost at certain engine speeds. They are also designed to have very low restriction, and there are no mufflers or catalytic converters to slow the exhaust down either (sit up affect the intake & exhaust of breathing).
  • They have carburetors that can let in huge volumes of air & fuel - no fuel injectors on these engines. Sounds like V02 Max?
  • They have high intensity programmable ignition systems so the spark timing can be custominzed to the provide the most possible power! Don't expect a motor that gets good gas mileage to win races!
  • Then you have all the sub-systems like coolant pumps, steering pumps & alternators designed to run at sustained high speeds & temperatures.
When these engines are assembled, they are built to very exacting tolerances (parts are machined more accurately), so that everything are assembled to the rules. UCI has exacting tolerances on what you can and can't have on your tt bike.

Now is where things start to differ. Your cross-section of muscles can be view as pistons and they very much vary. Cylinders are bored to more exacting tolerances in race cars than street cars. The crankshafts and other rotating parts are more balanced. Making sure that the parts are as close to their exact dimensions as possible helps the engine achieve its maximum potential power and also helps reduce wear (Wobble-naught CAD). If parts are too big or small, power can be lost due to extra friction or pressure leakage through bigger greater than necessary gaps.

After the engine is assembled, it runs on the dynamometer (measures engine power output) for 30 minutes to break it in.

All motors need a break it! That holds true for you and your new design!

Then the engine is then inspected to and checked for excess abnormal wear (Stack the bones).
If it passes this test, then it goes on the dynamometer for another two hours. During this part of the test, the ignition timing is dialed to maximize power and the engine is cycled through various speed and power ranges.

After this test, the engine is inspected thoroughly. The valve train is pulled and the camshaft & lifters are inspected. The insides of the cyclinders are examined with borescopes. We use sEMG to capture a model and examine the firing of muscles, then we use the Dartfish to teach you the timing to get it right. What you think and what you do are two different things!

Only after all of these tests and inspections are finished is the engine ready to go to the races.
Insuring the reliability of the engine is critical - almost any engine failure during a race eliminates any chances of winning.

As a human you have some major constraint, you can't change your rods (long bones) and few can even make one horsepower (746 watts) for a given time. No wonder the labor of coal mining is hard! You don't pick your folks, you come stock, and you can wear out if not fasten correctly. You can only make so much rpm (leg speed) and can only meet certain extreme duty. That is the very reason to pay attention to the smallest of factors. You need every % of a watt you can mustard.

You might be able to change cross section of the pistons (cross section of muscles). On the same note, they have adequate mass that can change your stroke/power and they also have a definite lifespan. In other words you can wear both bone & muscle (rods/pistons) out!

In no other sport do you move your legs more! And if you have long bones (rods) like a Mark Hekman, you know what type of race you have a real chance to perform.

You can have the coolest looking rod on your block, but many of those cool rods aren't made for speed, they are just for looks & show! No question, their is good money in show business!

Though we travel the world over to find truth, more facts, we are very impacted by the show business media.

Long time user of WN & Myo-facts sEMG/Dartfish "Design Driven" Mark Hekman almost pulls off a 2nd victory at what is view the largest criterium in the land. This is a high speed event! You need all the horsepower you can mustard and that is why Hekman uses our design driven solution simply because it allows him to be is best!

30th Athens Twilight Criterium

USA, April 25, 2009


Men  1 Heath Blackgrove (Hotel San Jose) 2 Mark Hekman (Mountain Khakis) 3 Adrian Hegyvary (Hagens-Berman)   Women  1 Brooke Miller (Team TIBCO) 2 Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home) 3 Jen McRae (Team Type 1)

Past winners

2008 Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) 
2007 Mark Hekman (Abercrombie & Fitch)                  
2006 Vasili Davidenko (Navigators)            
2005 Vasili Davidenko (Navigators)                      
2004 Brice Jones (Health Net)                          
2003 Dan Schmatz (7UP-Maxxis)                            
2002 Gord Fraser (Mercury)    


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