The race of truth – just you against the clock, driven by an addictive desire to go faster than the last time. Time Trials are a tough discipline – don’t be fooled by the smiles of the chaps in these photos – they are delirious…
A time trial (or TT) is a ride against the clock over a set distance, the winner of which completes the course in the shortest time. Riders set off at one-minute intervals, We offer time trail events through the summer at distances of 8, 10, 14 and 18 miles. Points are awarded for placings and there is an overall winner each season. ESCA offers further events at 25, 50 and 100 miles. Read more about time trials, including safety, on the Scottish Cycling website.
Time trials are about speed and endurance, the aim being to maintain the maximum sustainable effort for the distance ridden i.e. you have to pace yourself according to the distance and the course! Some local TTs, such as the season-opening ‘Hardriders’, are hilly, so training for hills as well as for speed is required.
British Cycling offers a four-week TT training plan for intermediate and advanced riders, by which they mean you should aim for a reasonable level of fitness before attempting a TT. Any club member can and should, at least once, attempt a TT.
If you get serious about TT’s, you can invest in a TT bike, with a steeper seat tube and lower, specially-shaped handlebars, with repositioned gear and brake levers, three-spoke or disc wheels. You can also buy yourself a pointy helmet – they do make a difference – as do skin suits and overshoes. In short, anything to reduce air resistance! Riding a TT bike takes dedication as the position is cramped and a bit precarious.
Most club members make do with a road bike and fit TT bars. These reduce air resistance by helping you ride in a lower, more rounded position, saving precious power and energy. They are not very comfortable, and they are not to be used on any other club or group ride as they move your hands too far from the brake levers, but they are more comfortable than a dedicated TT bike!
At the level that most of us ride, the thing that will make the most difference is your fitness, so focus on getting stronger and faster, with an efficient pedalling technique and an aerodynamic position you can maintain without getting a cramp.