Time trials are said to be the purest form of competitive cycling, with each rider on his/her own, against the clock – no drafting and no team tactics. You do not have to be a champion, every rider fights their own battle - to improve their previous best time and to try and beat their peer group at whatever level. Time trials are also the least intrusive event to other road users. Courses are almost always designed with only left turns or roundabout turns and, of course, no traffic lights. Below is a guide to TTs written by our very own Andy 'The Hammer' Newham.
Time trialling can be an odd world full of strange words and acronyms ! For our glossary of Time Trial terms click here .
Club events are generally held on a Tuesday evening. Check the club calendar in advance to find out where the race starts and where the HQ is. The HQ is usually the organiser’s car boot in a pub car park. The pub is chosen on the basis of its available car parking (and quality of refreshments!). You will need to sign on and register for the TT on the night. Sign on normally closes 30 mins prior to the published start time, so get there in plenty of time to sign on and warm up. The organiser will issue a racing number and in return you need to sign your permission to race and pay the entry fee (£1). Races are held under TLI Rules, so you need a TLI licence, which can be applied for here. This is the same licence as required to take part in club circuit races. Have a read of the section below from 'on the day' as much is relevant to Club Events too.....
These are events put on by clubs and opened up for anybody from any club (registered with CTT - Cycling Time Trials) to enter. They are mostly held on Saturdays and Sundays and have a closing date for entries around 12 days before the event. These events can be entered online or by sending a cheque through the post. A list of events for the year and details of how to register with CTT can be found here
Courses for open events were originally given coded names during a time when racing on the Highway was illegal. People still refer to these codes and to a newcomer, this can be a baffling affair. Fortunately there is a website that helps clear things up here Once entered, you will receive an e-mail about a week before the event to let you know your individual start time as the field is seeded based upon your best or estimated time for the distance over the last three years. This is to avoid congestion on the roads on the day and tends to work really well.
So, you've entered, got a bike (either road or time trial - clip on bars are fine if you have them) and have laid out either your club kit, or a plain kit, ready to race (please note, you cannot advertise on your clothing unless they are an official sponsor of your club - Lindum are not an official sponsor, so you cannot wear Lindum kit for open time trialling). Now we move on to what you can expect on the day….
On the day… There will be an HQ for the event, as you pull up, the first thing you will notice is that everyone looks super fit, some will already be warming up on turbos and some will look deadly serious - this is all for show ! Anyone can buy a turbo, and everyone has the ability to pull a race face ! You will soon notice, that there are all shapes and sizes of people, young and old, male and female, new bike, old bike, retro bike. Inside the HQ, your name will already be up on the wall in either a paper table or via a projector. You will need to sign in and take your number.
Now comes the tricky bit - should you bump into someone you know, play down how good you feel, and maybe highlight your lack of training or a niggle you may have - a bit of sandbagging here may pay dividends further down the line. You will need to attach your number - you should bend over to replicate an 'aero' tuck and then let a friend/partner randomly stab you with safety pins until it is in position - the flatter the better - anything flapping will slow you down !
The HQ will be a couple of miles from the start, so make sure you leave plenty of time to get there and incorporate a warm up routine as you ride there - there may well be some lanes to ride up and down, but always aim to be with the start queue no later than 5 mins from the off.
The actual race You will be called in one minute intervals and eventually it will be your start time. Roll up to the start and thank the marshalls who after all are volunteers themselves. The starter will call 30 seconds and at this point you should clip in and a pusher off will hold you in position. There will be a further 10 second count and then 5,4,3,2,1 and you are off ! On long course TT's, do NOT go off too quickly, absolutely no point red lining at this point - lactate will build if you do, and you will be in for a painful second half of the race - instead concentrate on a good rhythm at c.70-75% of your maximum effort - this will feel easy at first, but will get harder and harder… just keep going :) At the end of the time trial, you will see a checked flag, a parked car or a marshal with a clipboard, DO NOT STOP HERE! Call your number out as you pass the finish as this will help the time keeper to get an accurate time for your ride. Ride straight through, slow down safely and continue back to the HQ. You will have ample time to recover after the finish, and the ride back to HQ will allow you time to reflect on what went well, and what you could improve on. Back at HQ Put your bike back in the car, and then it's time for cake ! The results will drip through as you are enjoying a coffee and something to eat. Remember that sandbagging from earlier ? It will come in useful now as no-one in the room will have ridden to the best of their ability and all will have one or more excuse to hand - my personal favourites are : - Wrong type of wind - Brakes rubbing - Tired from….. - Got held up by traffic A little more info for the Middlemarkers event;
Results Eventually, the results will be posted up. You will notice that the riders are split into three categories - Scratch, Middlemarker, Longmarker - I will now break these down : Scratch - Any rider that has a 25 mile time trial time of less than 1 hour in the last three seasons. This will have been entered on the entry form so the organiser will know who they are in advance. Middlemarker - The middle of the pack ! These guys and girls have an existing 25 mile time of between 1:00:00 and 1:04:00 or you have estimate a time between these 'markers'. Longmarker - anyone with a time, either actual or estimated, which is outside of 1:04:00. There are prizes on offer for each of these categories !