FASTER: The Wind Tunnel and Beyond
Oct 10, 2013
article & images by Nick Salazar
There's no denying the fact that wind tunnels have become a fixture in our sport. Not so long ago, however, they were on the very fringe of the collective consciousness, seemingly made of equal parts science and mysticism. Less than two decades ago, just a handful of elite cyclists and triathletes would have occasion to find themselves in a tunnel, and even fewer understood why they were there. Today, wind tunnel testing is a staple of the sport, basically required of very high level athlete and every equipment manufacturer making skinny-tire gear.
But tunnel time still comes at a premium, and wind tunnel facilities aren't exactly popping up on every block. So when I decided I wanted to gather some good tunnel data for the TriRig Alpha, I knew that an important first step in that process would be just deciding where I was going to go.
Perhaps the most popular wind tunnel locations in the USA are the San Diego Low Speed Wind Tunnel, and A2 located in North Carolina. It would have been easy enough to pack my bags for either of those two locations, do some tests, publish the results, and call it good. But there was another location that piqued my journalistic interest just a bit more. The FASTER Speed Lab is a brand new installation, built just two years ago, and is to my knowledge the first wind tunnel facility to be built specifically for the world of cycling. That alone made me want to know more: why was it built, what does the facility have to offer, and what about its cycling-specific focus could benefit my tests with the Alpha?
Basically, I wanted to geek out about FASTER in the same way I talk about all other kinds of gear on this site. So that's what this article is all about. I'm going to tell you everything I learned about FASTER. The actual testing of the Alpha aerobar will be reserved for another article, where I just present the data in a straightforward way and leave it to the reader to decide what it means. That article will be pretty cut and dry. This one is going to have me raving about how cool everything is at the tunnel, and why FASTER can help make you … well, you know. Hit the jump and let's get started.