Often known as the Race of Truth, time trials are simple competitions where you ride on your own, over a fixed distance against the clock.
Events range from 10-100 miles normally and there are also 12hr and 24hr events.
Courses are on public roads. They are usually out and back routes, using a roundabout to turn at halfway, or circuits with left turns. Courses are known by codes, a system of letters and numbers, dating back to when racing was banned on British roads and time trials were conducted in secret!
Normally you need to be a member of a Cycling Time Trials affiliated cycling club, but you can do a ‘Come and Try It’ event without any membership or affiliation. Entry to Club events is usually on the line on the day of the event (usually £3-£5). Entry to an Open event must be by an official CTT Entry Form (usually £9-£15); with a closing date that is usually about two weeks before the event. If the event is over-subscribed, the fastest entrants will be accepted, unless otherwise specified.
You must be over 12 years old (U18s require parents consent)
You can take part on any roadworthy bike except a recumbent
You must follow the highway code/rules of the road (marshals will not the stop the traffic for you)
Deep sections wheels are allowed, but solid disc wheels are only allowed on the rear
Tri bars/aero bars etc are allowed
Sleeveless tops are not permitted
It is the riders’ responsibility to know the route (there may not be marshals on all junctions)
You must not take shelter or pace from other competitors or vehicles. If one competitor is caught by another the overtaken rider must drop back so they are not getting shelter from the faster rider
Full rules and all open events can be found on the CTT website http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/
Before the Day
Don’t do a hard ride or workout within 2 days of the TT and expect to do a great time! Ideally you want to be on the start line well rested and raring to go, not exhausted!
Do a course recce if possible and make sure you know where the start is! Often it is just a mark on the kerbstone; also make sure you know where the finish is! It is usually in a slightly different place to the start!
On the Day
You don’t want to race on a full stomach, but you don’t want to race when you’re starving either. For a morning TT have your normal breakfast (ideally simple carbohydrates, so easy to digest) 2-3 hours beforehand, for an evening event a carbohydrate-rich snack, like a banana or small sandwich, 2-3 hours before the event is a good idea and drink plenty of water during the day so you start hydrated.
Most local events require that you arrive at least 15 minutes before the start. Build in some spare time. You’ll probably sign on for the race with the timekeeper beside a car boot for a Club event or in a race HQ for an Open event. 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 or take off your jersey to do it. Make sure it is not flapping around!
For a short (10mi TT) you will probably not need to carry food or drink, you may wish to carry puncture repair kit.
Riders usually start at one-minute intervals. Check your exact start time.
Warm up for at least 20 minutes, this could be by riding to the event, riding near the course before the start or using a turbo or rollers. Ensure you build intensity gradually up to race pace and do a few short sharp bursts of effort.
Get to the start line with a few minutes to spare. You will then be able to watch the riders in front of you and how they start. 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 hold you up (usually from the left side so they can be on the kerb). It is not compulsory to be held (but it is faster). Clip into and set your pedals so your leading foot is ready to push down hard to start. Look straight ahead along the road.
The timekeeper will call “ten seconds………, five, four, three, two, one…”
Accelerate hard out of the saddle to build speed, but don’t give 100% and go into oxygen debt in the first 100m. The first mile shouldn’t feel ridiculously hard; use it to find a rhythm for your breathing and pedalling that’s hard but sustainable.
Other riders might come past you. Don’t worry about it; concentrate on riding your own race at your own pace, this is what time trialling is all about.
When you can see the finish, give it everything. Keep riding straight past the finish. It is traditional to shout out your number as you pass the timekeeper in case it is not easily visible.
Don’t distract the timekeeper or try to talk to them while riders are still finishing, they will return to the meeting point with the results once everyone has finished.
Have a drink and something to eat within 30 minutes of finishing to refuel and start the repair process. Ideally something containing both carbohydrate and protein.
Remember the officials, marshals and helpers are all volunteers, please thank them.
Don’t worry about anyone else! You are only racing against yourself and the clock. If you can ride 10miles on the road you can do a Time Trial and you are guaranteed a PB in your first one! Good luck!