Cycling Model Types

What are Cycling Model Types?

Cycling has many possible questions, and no single model that will answer all of them. It is possible though to group many of these questions such that a single model can be used for each of them. In discussing Physical Cycling, we will encounter the following modeling approaches as we seek to answer specific questions:

  1. Cycle Mechanical Modeling
  2. Cyclist Modeling
  3. Cycling Modeling
    1. Cycling Power Modeling
    2. Cycling Motion Modeling
    3. Cycling Energy Modeling
    4. Cycling Scenario Modeling
    5. Cycling Research Modeling

Cycle and Cyclist Models

These are two separate models, one modeling the cycle mechanical architecture and the other the cyclist physiology. The first models the process whereby pedaling is transformed into forward force and also how the cycle may be tuned using gearing to a variety of riding scenarios.

The cyclist on the other hand is an organic creature which contains too many variables to be modeled in a similar fashion to the cycle. What we are interested in is obtaining a table that quantifies the cyclist’s ability to generate power as measured in Watts over a wide range of training levels and across a range of riding scenarios such as time trials and long rides.

Cycling Models

Here we are looking to understand and quantify the actual process of riding. These include what are sometimes called longitudinal riding including flats and hills, and lateral such as turning where the CyclistCycle are deviating from straightline motion. We have a number of possible models we can use.

Cycling Power Models

These models are most important to a cyclist. It takes a particular riding scenario and computes its total required effort. From this, a cyclist can assess how much time they would need to complete the ride, if even possible, based on their current training level. We will find that these types of calculations are easily performed. One of the reasons for this is we are normally assuming the cyclist wants to ride the scenario at a constant velocity.

Cycling Motion Models

Classical Mechanics takes the forces acting on an object and derives the resultant object velocity and positions as a function of time. These are known as the object’s dynamical equations of motion. Here we are interested in describing how the  object moves, and in particular when the object’s velocity is changing over time. For Cyclists, the scenarios where you would be more interested in the dynamics are startup, slowing down, and descents.

Cycle Energy Models

One of the pedaling consequences is that the cyclist can place the cycle in a state where the cycle has the potential to continue moving without pedaling. These include coasting and descents. As the cyclist pedals, he either maintains the cycle energy state or increases it by either climbing or accelerating. Energy models provide a quick way to evaluate these.

Cycle Scenario Models

You have wanted to climb the Alpe d’Huze. Scenario models are how your ability to do so can be  evaluated. The ride requirements are defined and then compared against your current training level. Our scenario models will assume a simple straightline path to the top, but there are travel groups that have generated extremely detailed simulators to provide more precise results.

Research Physical Modeling

This is the most complex of the modeling “flavors” and one we will not approach. Given all of the great advances Physics has made, it may be surprising to find that the bicycle stability is in this age of Quantum Field Theory is one still being researched.

Next Topic:   Physical Foundations

Cycling as seen through the eyes of elite cyclists.