Getting Started in Time Trials

Time Trialling – what is it? 
Time trialling is the simplest of competitive formats: a race against the clock, with riders starting a minute apart. Most events are fixed distance, 10, 25, 50 or 100 miles. There are also fixed time events – 12 and 24 hours – with the objective being to ride the furthest you can. Courses are on public roads.


Time Trialling – why do it? 
It’s nice when you stop – but there is more to it than that. Once you’ve got your breath back, your body is swimming with endorphins. It feels good. And at some primal, work-ethic level, it’s satisfying to have ridden at 100 per cent capacity, to have learned where your limits are. There’s a sense that you’ve used the time productively, having seized the day rather than let it drift by. It doesn’t matter what your fitness level is, whether you’re 22 or 82, male or female. If you can ride 10 miles on a public road then you can ride a time trial.


It’s not like a road race, where if you fall off the pack your race is over. You’ll automatically get your personal best time (PB) in your first time trial. It doesn’t matter what time anyone else got – first and foremost in a time trial, you’re racing against yourself.

Time Trialling – How to race. A list of our club events is provided on the website and the handbook, and you can ride any of them. You pay an on-the-day entry fee of £4.00. Open events are bigger, attracting riders from across the region. You have to register in advance for an open event and the fee will usually be a bit higher. You don’t need a racing licence for either type of event; club membership is sufficient. If you’re under 18 – the minimum age is 12 — you must have a parent/guardian’s authorisation.


Time Trialling – What Equipment Do You Need? 
All you need is a roadworthy bike (with a working rear red light). That includes mountain bikes and tourers. Assuming the bike is at least half decent, with road tyres, the biggest effect on your speed (apart from your fitness!) is not the machine but your position on it. You make up the overwhelming bulk of the air resistance, which is what mostly stops you going faster. So don’t wear baggy clothing, and make sure your handlebars are as low as they can comfortably go.

Time Trialling – On the day. 
Arrive at least 15 minutes before the start. Build in some spare time. You’ll sign on for the race with the timekeeper beside a car boot. The timekeeper will then hand out race numbers. These are safety-pinned to the back of your jersey, right at the bottom not high up on the back. Ask someone to pin yours on for you. If you’ve got time to spare, ride down the road a bit to warm up. Riding out to the event can be a useful warm up if it’s local enough, but remember you’ll have to ride home, too! Get to the start with a couple of minutes to spare. At one minute to go, you’ll get in position. Make sure you’re in a gear you can accelerate away in. At 30 seconds, the starter will – if you wish – hold you up. Take some deep breaths, clip into and orient your pedals.

Time Trialling – The ride. 
Don’t slaughter yourself in the first few miles. You need to get into the ride – find a rhythm for your breathing and pedalling that’s hard but sustainable. Try not to let your mind wander. Keep half an eye on your heart rate monitor or bike computer, or count your pedal strokes for one leg (one, two, three, four) and then the other, and repeat. Other riders will come past you. Don’t worry about it. When you can see the finish, give it everything. Keep riding straight past the finish. When it’s safe to do so, do a U-turn and return to where you met up before the race – not the start. Don’t hang around the timekeeper or try to talk to him. He’ll be over with the results shortly. Have a drink. Get your breath back, and when the timekeeper reappears, go and find out your time. So, how did you do? It doesn’t matter what time anyone else got – you’re racing against yourself!

More information can be found on the CTT web site.