Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

MAE Ph.D. Exit Seminar

Optimal Pacing Strategies for Cyclist Time Trials
By: Gilbert Gede Adviser: Professor Mont Hubbard

This work uses optimal control techniques to answer the question: what strategy should a cyclist use in
order to complete a time trial in the minimum time? Existing models of the Newtonian dynamics of a cyclist
were adapted for this work. A new model for human bioenergetics was created and validated in order to more
accurately understand, model, and allow optimization of muscle fatigue and power output. Software was
written to transform an optimal control problem into a numerical optimization problem and was successfully
validated against a set of test problems. Optimal (minimum time) cyclist behavior is first calculated and
examined for various hypothetical courses. The 2011 Tour of California time trial stage was also studied, with
an optimal strategy being calculated. This strategy was compared to measured data from a professional cyclist
who competed in that stage; even without specific parameters representing this cyclist, the optimal strategy is
qualitatively similar to the observed strategy. The optimal control results suggest that the power velocity curve
should be used to determine gearing: the gear ratio should control crank speed to maximize power output, for
any level of exertion. The results also suggest that the optimal strategy for muscle usage is nearly constant
maximum effort, with only the faster muscles occasionally resting and recovering.
11

Date/Time
Date(s) - 11/24/2014
11:00 am

Location
2130 Bainer - MAE Conference Room

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