Updated: Nov 22, 2021
The cycling Time Trial (TT) season is in full swing, but if you're new to them, they can seem a bit confusing or intimidating at first. Luckily once you can see past the unintelligible course codes and overabundance of aero equipment, it’s actually a very friendly scene and rewarding way to pass a few hours.
Here’s my 5 top reasons to get involved:
1) Time trials are known as the race of truth – you are racing yourself. Competitors are set off at 1 min intervals and other than occasionally overtaking or being overtaken by each other, have little to do with each other. So you don’t need to worry about what anyone else is doing, you just need to focus on yourself and do the best you can on the day.
2) How often do you get to do an all-out effort on the roads in the UK – whilst they’re run on open roads, the courses are usually selected because they’re fairly quiet and good for TTs (generally long flat stretches of road without too many technical bits to slow you down). And although you could of course just ride it by yourself, a risk assessment will have been completed to minimise the risks on the day - there will be signs up about the event and you’ll be surrounded by lots of other riders, all with their red lights on, so other road users know there’s a cycle event on. Plus it’s far easier to stay focussed and motivate yourself to go as hard as you can when you’ve got people chasing you down/ to chase down.
3) Practice your aero position – hands up who’s been doing some great training on the turbo but it all goes to pot when you race outside? Your position on the bike, combined with your bike handing, is absolutely key to how fast you go outside (for example your ability to stay aero the whole time, especially as you go round a roundabout, drink, deal with cross winds etc). Whereas Zwift doesn’t care what position you hold or whether your cornering is good enough to hold 70kph downhill, the real world is less forgiving! But if the real world is where you want to be racing, then the more practice the better. For more on getting aero (and its not all about expensive kit) see my next blog in this series - Five tips for time trialling
4) If you’re a triathlete then they’re great to practice your pacing and check it’s realistic for race day (10 miles for a sprint, 25m for an Oly, 50m for a HIM and 100m for an IM) – it’s up to you whether you want to add the run off the bike!
5) They’re about as Covid-proof as racing gets. Whilst events were cancelled at the height of lockdown in 2020, given they’re outside with very little contact between people, they were put back on as soon as was safe. Sadly this does mean currently no hanging round in a village hall eating cake and waiting for the results at the end.
Next read my blog on Five tips for time trialling