In a winding descent a cyclist like Vincenzo Nibali flies down the slope like a condor while Thibaut Pinot cycles down with clamped buttocks,” said cycling researcher Niels Lommers in a recent press release.
According to Lommers and his supervisor, Dr Arend Schwab of the TU Delft Cycling Lab of the Faculty of 3mE, courage is not the only relevant factor in a descent. From time to time you still have to break, even the most brazen cyclists cannot escape this fact. “And when you do have to break, make sure you break powerfully, and just before you enter a turn,” says Schwab. Schwab an Lommers have developed a measuring bike which they can use to map the steering and breaking behaviour of the members of the professional cycling team Team Giant Alpecin. This bicycle can also measure how a cyclist hangs in the turn and what line he is following. This kind of insight can give the team a decisive edge over their competitors. In the long run Schwab wants to equip the bike with measuring equipment to determine the cyclists’ level of fear. Under normal circumstances this can be achieved by measuring the electric resistance of the skin. But it is made difficult by the fact that athletes sweat so much. “This is a problem we still have to solve,” says Schwab.