Time trialing is basically pretty simple: Get in the biggest gear you can then turn the pedals as long, as hard and as fast as you can over the fixed distance of the time trial. It is the truest form of test for a cyclist’s fitness – rider pitted against the clock.
A Time Trial is a cycling event that consists of each participant riding the same course while being timed. Typically it is held on an out and back course. The turn around is the midway point usually. Riders are usually dispatched in one minute intervals with the slowest rider starting first and the fastest the last to leave.
Few things in sport are more nerve wracking, more excruciating and yet more satisfying than the completion of a time trial. When one crosses the line knowing there is nothing left in the tank, a slow sense of fullness sets in the athlete’s mind. Time trialing though for a beginner need not forget basics and foundations. In order to get fit enough to ride a time trial well, it is important to have a solid base, understand your body and your equipment. In this sense, be a student of the sport.
Good luck with your own time trial efforts and your growth in the truly wonderful and amazing sport of cycling.
To help you get a good start, here are Ten Time Trialing Tips to help you get ready for your first ITT:
1.Know the course – it is a good idea to pre-ride a course whenever possible to see its nuances.
2. The day before the event, make sure the bike you intend to use is mechanically sound. A thorough cleaning and inspection will help you identify any potential problems, like glass in your tire, or a faulty shifting cable. Control things you can control, the rest is easy.
3. Following the above, do not make any major changes to your position on the bike before the event. Use the same position you normally train or ride in as your body does not adapt quickly.
4. Food for the body is important but eating or drinking too much before a time trial can be defeating. Do not eat different things before an event, fuel with what you know will work for you. The TT is only 15km- eat when you’re done. Don’t start hangry.
5. Mindset Prep is often overlooked but shouldn’t be. The previous items are really parts of mindset and preparation because of the havoc they can wreak on an athlete’s mind. This is an individual effort, so focus on yourself and your personal performance.
6. Clothing used in a time trial has a bigger effect then those new to the sport stop to consider. Loose fitting clothing creates drag while too much clothing can cause overheating. In a standard 15 km ITT this can add literally minutes to a time on a windy, cooler night. Limit wind restrictions, loose clothing slows, save the jacket so you are warm at the end.
7. Warm up. The fact is, cold muscles with little blood flow to them cannot possibly be expected to perform at their peak. Commonly a good warm up will be 30-60 minutes and this includes things like steady rolling, to several hard efforts, to high speed spinning. Include your ride to the start as part of that 30-60 minute warm up. If it is cooler, a rider can slowly take off their heavier clothes as they get near their start time.
8. Pacing is important. Starting too hard is a common error. Start affirmatively and build to full effort. During your pre-ride of the course you will have seen areas where a bigger push is needed (false flats, overpass, speedy decline). Be prepared for the extra effort and push as hard as you can for the last km.
9. The turnaround in a TT is infamous for error and folly. An Out and Back course will include a 180-degree turn. Watch your course marshal for the all clear and use the whole lane to turn. If you haven’t done this before at speed, try to get out before the TT in a safe place to practice.
10. Do NOT miss your start. The official timer of the time trial event is the only clock that matters. If your start is 00:50 on the hour, make sure you are in the queue a few minutes beforehand.
Well, that about exhausts TEN TIPS for Time Trialing for this note. For what appears to be the simplest form of racing, there is so much that goes into an effort to make it a success. Remember to trust your training, believe in yourself and do not be afraid to extend the limits of your effort. It may surprise you to remember that even World Champion pros all started where you are today. Don’t be shy to come out and try this type of event to see if it is a fit for you.
Good luck and may the wind always be favourable!