The dark art of Cycling Time Trials....

The dark art of Cycling Time Trials....

Postby Sir Conehead » 07 Apr 2011 04:53

What are cycling time trials?

If you've done triathlon, then you've already had experience of a 'cycling time trial' as that's essentially what the bike leg is - a cycling time trial, you against the clock with no drafting (tucking in behind someone so they take the wind).

They vary in distance from 5 miles all the way up to 100 miles and even 24 hour races :shock:

How much do they cost?

Anything from £3 all the way up to a whopping £7

How do I enter a time trial?

Got to, on that website will be an 'events' tab - on that tab you can search events by area, distance of TT and month. Once you find an event in your area on the date you want you'll need to fill out an application form. For us triathletes this is very much an alien thing to do as we're used to online entry - the thing to remember is TTing is not a commercial venture unlike triathlons hence why they cost so little.

You can download and print the entry form from the CTT website - personally I download it as a word doc then fill everything in before printing off. Leaving the only thing to actually write being the event name and signing it.

The form asks lots of questions which seem totally irrelevant to you - simply put 'NA'. The important thing is to have the correct contact details for yourself and sign it.

Now you need to post it, but who to and who is the cheque made payable to? The event you have selected will be run and organised by a cycling club - the contact name for that event (along with a contact number) can be found by clicking on the event name on the CTT website. This will also tell you how much the event costs, I've not seen any more than £7. The address to post the form and cheque to are in the CTT handbook which again can be downloaded from the CTT website - each cycling club has its address in there which things such as this are sent to.

What's the difference between open events and club events?

Open events are only 'open' to CTT affiliated clubs (which we are) are run on Saturdays or Sundays and have much larger numbers taking part (100+). These events make use of more courses and have the full spread of distances 5 miles to 100 miles.

Club events are run by the same clubs that organise 'open' events but these are usually mid week in the evenings - more importantly you literally just turn up, pay your £3 get given a number and off you go - no form filling. Of course as mid week evening events they are almost always 5 mile to 10 miles. But for that midweek threshold session they are ideal - especially if you get a 10min run in after it!

Do I need £10,000 worth of carbon erotica to race a TT?

Not at all - however you can not do TT's on hybrids or MTB's, you must at least have a road bike. Of course people there will have bikes that cost more than cars - but that's no different than triathlon.

Can I do a TT in my tri suit? Or my snazzy Team Sky time trial skin suit?

At open events - you can do them in your tri suit as long as you have a short sleeve (or long sleeve) top on underneath. You're not allowed to have our shoulders out - why is irrelevant - those are the rules and until my BCTTT skin suit arrived I raced in my BCTTT tri suit with a LS skin top underneath.

If you have a replica team kit - then unless you're actually on that team you're not supposed to wear it. Best get your order in for the BCTTT skin suit when next order goes in!

Do I need any special nutrition?

Anything under 25 miles you don't really need anything - hard core TTers don't even take a bottle with them on a 25 mile TT as they hydrate beforehad. But there is certainly no need to load your bike like a triathlon. When tackling a 25 mile and above triathlon you may need 'a' water bottle and possible 'a' gel on the bike, remember you're not fuelling for a run off the bike - its just the bike alone and as most open TT's start around 1pm or 2pm in the afternoon you have plenty of time to fuel and hydrate beforehand.

Will I be last?

You set off at 1 min intervals on a TT - so when you receive the start list (either by email or in the post, which is how you know you're entered) the worst thing that will happen is your 'minute person' will catch you up and pass you. But they are as a mixed bag of people as you'll see at any triathlon - however just accept that an 80 year old man on a steel bike with toe clips and no helmet WILL come past you like you're stood still. Its just the way it is.

Any other relebvent info

Its easy to feel lost at a TT if you're used to triathlon - because there isn't anything to do other than get changed and ride to the start line. You end up 'faffing' massively as you arrive 2 hours early with nothing to do. The only thing you need to leave time for is getting from the race HQ (usually a village hall) to the start line which can be up to 3 miles away - so always allow time to spin to the start line which is also a nice warm up.

Of course the main thing is the tea and cake selection on offer - each TT seems to be in competition with the other to produce the best cake and tea collection as an army of 'grandmas' produce a staggering selection of homemade bakery delights.

From a training perspective TTing will be the single most effective thing you can do to improve your bike time in a triathlon - fact.

From a personal point of view TTing is like a triathlon, but with all the stress removed i.e swim, transitions and run.
Sir Conehead
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Joined: 06 Jan 2010 18:21

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