Three.. Two.. One.. Good luck! A bit of a push start perhaps then it’s up to you to chase down the riders ahead of you and avoid being overtaken by the cyclist set off a minute behind you. Welcome to the world of time trial cycling.
Once upon a time cyclists weren’t allowed to race in groups on UK roads like they could in Europe. To get around this technical glitch, riders used to dress up in black and ride one by one under the cover of darkness. Because, who could argue that you were racing when you didn’t start at the same time and weren’t riding side by side?
No longer an undercover affair, time trial cycling is now an international sport. One that I am rapidly getting addicted to.
Time trialling is called the race against the clock because it is just you out there. Every rider is set off on the set route at 1 minute intervals against the stop watch. There’s no one to draft off, no one to gauge your position from and determine whether you are going fast or slow. Just your mind to keep you pushing harder until you are overtaken by someone behind you or manage to overtake someone who began earlier.
It’s a mental battle to find the balance between pushing too hard too early and bonking or not pushing hard enough and being too slow.
My introduction to Time trialling began a month or two ago when I was asked to join and race for Phoenix Aintree CC – a local cycling club in Liverpool. While the official rides start super early on the weekends (think 5am Sunday morning wake up calls), club rides (10 miles or 16km) are during the week in the evening. So far I’ve raced this distance twice, managing to chop 3 minutes off my original time. It’s certainly addictive, that’s for sure.
My calendar for the next few months is now filled with an array of TT events of various distances including 10 mile, 25 mile, 50 mile, 100 mile, 12 hour and perhaps if I feel strong enough the full out 24 hour time trial! It’s allowed me to make full use of my new TT bike, to the point where I’ve started missing the aero bars when I go out on my road bike.
I’ve also been learning on the job some sports nutrition tips and fails from personal experience. Take it from me, you do not want to forget to eat prior to a 30 mile TT race!
Watch this space!