Information Acquisition Differences between Experienced and Novice Time Trial Cyclists

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Abstract

Purpose

To use eye-tracking technology to directly compare information acquisition behavior of experienced and novice cyclists during a self-paced, 10-mile (16.1 km) time trial (TT).

Method

Two groups of novice (n = 10) and experienced cyclists (n = 10) performed a 10-mile self-paced TT on two separate occasions during which a number of feedback variables (speed, distance, power output, cadence, HR, and time) were projected within their view. A large RPE scale was also presented next to the projected information and participants. Participants were fitted with a head-mounted eye tracker and HR monitor.

Results

Experienced cyclists performed both TT quicker than novices (F1,18 = 6.8, P = 0.018) during which they primarily looked at speed (9 of 10 participants), whereas novices primarily looked at distance (6 of 10 participants). Experienced cyclists looked at primary information for longer than novices across the whole TT (24.5% ± 4.2% vs 34.2% ± 6.1%; t18 = 4.2; P < 0.001) and less frequently than novices during the last quarter of the TT (49 ± 19 vs 80 ± 32; t18 = −2.6; P = 0.009). The most common combination of primary and secondary information looked at by experienced cyclists was speed and distance, respectively. Looking at 10 different primary–secondary feedback permutations, the novices were less consistent than the experienced cyclists in their information acquisition behavior.

Conclusions

This study challenges the importance placed on knowledge of the endpoint to pacing in previous models, especially for experienced cyclists for whom distance feedback was looked at secondary to, but in conjunction with, information about speed. Novice cyclists have a greater dependence on distance feedback, which they look at for shorter and more frequent periods than the experienced cyclists. Experienced cyclists are more selective and consistent in attention to feedback during TT cycling.

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