What is a Time Trial

The time trial has been dubbed “The race of truth” due to what is considered its purity. This race is not a mass start race. There is no drafting off of other riders. It is only you and the clock. Time trials are a true test of your physical fitness and mental discipline. The Start of a time trial is usually set under a tent with multiple officials, a clock, and what is known as a holder. Each rider is given a specific start time and each rider starts in 30-60 second intervals. Riders should roll to the start gate a few minutes early and line up according to start times.

When it is a riders turn to start the holder straddles his or her rear wheel and hangs onto there seat post. The rider than steps over the top tube of his or her bike and clips into there pedals. The chief official counts down to your start time (just like a space shuttle launch) and the holder releases the riders seat post.

It is now you against the clock. As you catch riders on the course or are being caught by riders you are not allowed to draft and must ride along side or pass them. One of the keys to success when riding a time trial is pacing. It is important to go as hard as you possibly can for the entire duration. One way to pace yourself is to start slightly below what seams as hard possible. As the duration of your time trial goes on you will start to feel like you are going all out. Another way to pace yourself and one that us coaches prefer is to try and hit a specific power target or lap time for your event.

As technology has caught up with cycling there have been many advances in time trialing gear and accessories. One of those first advances was the change in types of handle bars used for time trials. Time trial bars over the years have become more and more aggressive in there design. The very simplest of these bars can be clipped onto your existing handlebars. These clip-on bars are usually to long extensions that go on both sides of you stem with padding for your elbows to rest on. The goal with time trial bars is to extend and flatten out your back so that the frontal area of your body is smaller and lower and creating less drag in the wind. This technique is called becoming more Aerodynamic (or aero for short).

Some of the other advances have been in frame design to accommodate aggressive positioning and wheel construction in the pursuit aerodynamic superiority. Some other accessories for time trials include clothing and shoe covers that are seamless and helmets that reduce drag and direct wind.

Time Trials started in the UK in the late 1800s and were kept secret as racing had been made illegal. These time trials were held at kilometer marks on the road with everyone wearing black to be inconspicuous.

“In 1890, the banned racing on public roads in fear of a ban not just on racing cyclists but all cycling. The legal position of cyclists was not secure. The cycling historian Bernard Thompson said: "Events organised by clubs in the 1880s, although taking place on quiet country roads, were constantly interrupted by the police. Often horse-mounted policemen charged at racers and threw sticks into their wheels." The NCU asked clubs to run races on closed tracks, known now as velodromes. But few existed and so a rebel organisation began, under the influence of men such as Frederick Thomas Bidlake, to continue racing on the road but in a way they believed need not bring police attention. Riders would start at intervals, usually a minute, and race against the clock. Riders meeting on the road were not allowed to race against each other. Unsure of the legal situation, riders dressed from neck to ankle in black to make themselves less conspicuous, never wore numbers but always carried a bell. Races started in the countryside at dawn on courses referred to only in code. Even the cycling press was asked not to say where a race was taking place and details to competitors were headed "private and confidential" up to the 1960s. 1"

The coaches at crank cycling work with a lot of Time Trialists at all levels. If you would like to try a time trial and need help with training strategies or even want to purchase a power meter let us know.

Next up Coach Daggs talks about pursiuts on the Velodrome and how to warmup for time trials and pursuits

See you on the road Coach Jesse Eisner


1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_Time_Trials