About Time Trial Events
The most commonly raced Time Trial (TT) distances are 10 and 25 miles. Longer distances (50 and 100 miles) or fixed timed events (12 and 24 hours) are also raced. Riders start at one-minute intervals, or sometimes more, and cover the course alone. Drafting is disallowed.
Time trials are all about speed. The time it takes a solo rider to cover a specified distance. You can race competitively or have a goal to improve your personal times.
So How do you go Faster?
Professionally structured training, efficient and aero-dynamic riding position, equipment and race experience will all contribute to getting faster. Your best performance will come when all of these elements are optimised. Depending on your fitness and experience, the greatest gains start with training.
Training should focus on boosting your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Choose a professional plan with the correct blend of structured workouts enabling you to benefit from each session.
Phil's Time Trial plans include sessions such as short sharp efforts at just above and below your threshold, longer sub-threshold efforts, race practice rides and shorter threshold efforts with short recoveries in combination with aerobic endurance rides. These workouts are structured to progressively challenge your boundaries. The plans allow for recovery and adaptation to training stimulus.
You’ll soon realise that the faster you go, the more effort you have to put in for ever smaller gains. Once you get above 15 mph the majority of what slows you down is aerodynamic drag. To put it simply, cut wind resistance and you’ll go quicker.
Adaptation to Aero Position
Whether you are riding a road bike with aero bars or the latest time trial bike your training should be done in the same position as you are planning to race. TT bikes especially can feel completely different from your road bike and the aero position will have your muscle groups working differently. You have to spend time on the bike in the aero position. Your indoor trainer can be a great controlled environment for focussed training. However you should also maintain “road feel” with at least one or two outdoor rides per week. Use your race bike for all of these workouts and maintain your aero position.
Fitting a set of aero-bars is the easiest way to go quicker on any bike. They allow you to get your back and shoulders lower with your arms out in front, reducing your frontal area and making your position more aerodynamic.
With this flatter position your hips are going to rotate forwards, you may need an appropriate saddle that will allow for this. This can go from raising the rear of the saddle, changing to a saddle with a cut-out, to the whole front of the saddle to be done away.
Time Trial bikes are built to purpose and enable you to ride in an aggressive aero position. They are specifically designed for the demands of riding against the clock. Optimising aerodynamic efficiency is the number one priority for a time trial bike, with comfort and weight secondary. There is plenty of choice and it is a fast moving industry. If purchasing your first TT bike you will need to primarily consider budget and fit:
- Bike Radar has excellent reviews for all budgets. There are many other places for research with a simple internet search.
- Take your time and try a few.
- Purchase from a reputable bike shop (close to you if possible) for ongoing support.
- Get a professional bike fit (ideally from your place of purchase).
A few well-chosen products can make a big difference to your speed and need not break the bank in the process.
- Swap your loose fitting jacket/top/shorts for close-fitting Lycra. This will reduce surface area and won't flap in the wind.
- Straps, buckles and vents on your cycling shoes disrupt airflow over them. A simple set of tight-fitting aero booties allow air to pass more easily and keeps your shoes clean.
- Aero Helmets, check this video from GTN for more.
- Gloves shouldn't feature unnecessary straps that will interrupt airflow
There is no doubt that the more time trials you do the faster you are likely to become. Some of this improvement through the fact that racing is optimal training. Your body will adapt to the stress from a full effort time trial and come back stronger. Provided you allow for proper recovery after the event. Training for and racing a time trial isn’t easy. You will need to be dedicated to your training and mentally tough in racing to become proficient, comfortable and fast. But, for those that like to test themselves in the truest manner possible, there is no better way than the time trial.
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