For the lay man, cycling is a laborious but simple task of applying force to the pedal to make the bike move. This explanation is sufficient for most bike riders. However, there are many who are not satisfied with such a simple definition.
When bikes began to be used for racing, people started asking themselves- ‘Does one need to be strong and muscular to win bike races?’ If your first answer is yes, do keep in mind that Dunlop helped his child win the race by not making him strong but by using air filled tires for his cycle wheels.
People realized that aerodynamics had a key role to play in the speed a person could attain when racing on the bike. What does aerodynamics mean? Simply put, it refers to effect of air and wind on a moving body. Try running into a gale and you will find the going very tough. On the other hand, try having the gale behind your back and you will be propelled by the gale.
When you are riding for pleasure or just to travel from one place to another, aerodynamics is not of much significance. At worst, you may end up spending a little more time on your bike. However, when you are racing on your bike, every second matters and how you deal with aerodynamics may make all the difference between victory and loss.
When you are riding your bike, your fast movement will be obstructed by the air which will press against you. The easiest way to use aerodynamics in your favor is to ensure you provide minimum opportunity to the wind and the air to slow your down. This can be done by contracting your posture in such a manner that the wind flows over your body instead of pressing against your body. This is done with the help of aero bars.
Aero bars refer to a special kind of handle bar on your road bike. Unlike normal handlebars which are gripped by your hands, this bar is not placed horizontally to the rider. Rather, it is placed perpendicular to the rider and permits the rider to rest his or her arm on the aerobar instead of gripping it with the hands.
The moment you rest your forearm on the bike aero bars, you slouch over and assume the stance that is commonly adopted by all racing cyclists. You slouch over and present a compact aerodynamic shape to the wind.
Your elbows are close together, you are drooping forward. All you need to do is keep your head down to provide minimum opportunity to the wind to block your progress due to its pressure. Due to your crouched posture, the wind simply flows over you as compared to striking against your body and slowing you down.
When you grip the handlebar with your hands, you end up sitting upright on your saddle and this gives maximum opportunity to the wind to do its damage.
However, opt in for an aerobar which is just two pieces of metal fitted perpendicular to the rider and projecting on top of the front wheel. Rest your elbows and find your bike moving faster due to lower resistance from the wind.