Time trials are a bit like marmite when it comes to cycling, you either love them or absolutely despise every second. For some they’re the most rewarding experience- the simplicity of you against the clock where you have almost complete control over the outcome of your race. Here are our top tips for your first time trial.
Warming up, especially for a TT, is a must for any cyclist. From seasoned pros to complete beginners, if you’re going straight into a hard effort then a warm up allows you to prepare your body. It warms your muscles and more importantly activates them. Try to ride for at least 10-15 minutes and mix in a short 2 minute interval at your threshold with 3-4 short sprints, this gets multiple muscle groups activated and will allow us to recruit more muscle fibres during the TT. Don’t let this be one of the tips for your first time trial you forget- I once arrived to a race with ice cold legs and it felt like someone had attached a couple of sandbags to me. It was horrible, please just warm up.
Pacing is everything
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, “don’t start too hard” but all too often this is what people do, especially when they aren’t riding to power. With your adrenaline pumping at the start of the race it’s easy to ignore the pain, get a few minutes it and be gasping for air. If you have a power meter then you’ll know the target power for the estimated duration of the race or ideally you would’ve ridden it previously. This means you should never go more the 5% over or 5% below the target power. If you haven’t got a power meter then you’ll need to use a hear rate monitor or go on ‘feel’, however this is obviously less objective and you need to know your body like the back of your hand to perfect this method. Learning how to use a power meter is a pretty easy affair but we have a comprehensive guide on how to get started and make the most of one.
Clean up your bike
So often I see amateur riders pulling up to the start line with a saddle bag, two bottle cages, cabling everywhere or a flapping jersey and race number. This is doing you no favours at all. Even if you think each one of these contributes so little to your aerodynamics that you neglect it then you must’ve missed the revolution in cycling over the past few years. Marginal gains make a massive difference and if we were to add up all the gains from sorting each individual drag contributor then you’d have a considerably more aerodynamic bike and rider- something that will give you an obvious boost. Talking of cleaning up, this table is awesome at showing where you can make the most marginal gains.
There’s nothing quite like the nerves you get pulling up to the start line for a TT, you’re alone and all eyes are on you. You know what you need you need to do and you’re ready physically but the mental side is a whole different story.
Your mind will be whirring with what-ifs or thinking about the power you need to sustain to beat your PR or the speed you need to average to get a podium time. They key here is to focus on the task at hand and think about nothing. All too often, when the going gets tough we lose concentration, focus and think about the pain too much. True meditation comes when you’re pushing 350 watts for 30 minutes and you’re able to keep your mind clear and focused. Clear your head and focus on what needs to be done, this is one of the most important tips for your first time trial.
Don’t be late
One that may sound obvious but there’s always a handful of people who do this. If you’re late then you’re likely to miss out on the chance to warm up (absolutely crucial). You’ll also arrive at the line in with a messy, panicked mindset- not good if you’re about to sit on the limit for however long! It’s not hard to be early, just make sure you plan accordingly an give yourself plenty of time to arrive, see the course and have a good warm up. Simple.
Top 5 tips for your first time trial
These tips are pretty easy to make sure you do every time you race and they’ll save you a massive amount of stress and energy too. Rules are only sometimes meant to be broken (these should never).