Rebecca Slack (London Dynamo) gives a beginners' guide to time trialling.
It's the simplest of competitive formats: riders start a minute apart, rather than together. It's known as the 'race of truth' because there's nowhere to hide, no one to draft off; just you, your bike, your thumping heart and a clock ticking.
Don’t be put off by other riders with all the gear (TT bike, aero front wheel, rear disc, skinsuit, pointy helmet etc)…. it’s not a cast iron guarantee they’ll beat you! Many people take turbo trainers and warm up in the HQ car park, but the ride to the start suffices as a warm up for most mere mortals.
Leave plenty of time to get down to the start. Don’t be late!
It pays to know a little about the course – especially what to expect in the last few miles when you’ll be emptying the tank!
The start for the G25/53 course is in a quiet lay-by more than a mile from the HQ at Broadbridge Heath, where you will find the start timekeeper and a “pusher”. The pusher holds you by your seat post and will launch you from the start at your allotted time slot.
Try not to wobble - they won’t let you fall over… then it’s “five, four, three, two, one”…. you’re off!! It’s tempting to power off down the road at an unsustainable 350W, but from experience, not wise. Try to go off at a work rate you can maintain for the entire ride. Pacing is an important attribute in successful time trialling.
You’ll be pedaling like stink and hurting like hell – keep telling yourself to “embrace the pain – it’s only temporary!” Your nose will run and you won’t notice the traffic whizzing by.
Always look behind you if overtaking a slower rider and don’t be scared senseless if someone whirrs past you on a rear disc wheel. Pay attention to marshals at the various roundabouts to avoid going off course – remember they can direct cyclists but can not interfere with the flow of traffic so always be ready to give way at junctions if necessary.
On the G25/53 course you will go up a steep slip road and down the other side (rather than under the bridge) half way round the course. Enjoy the long drag up the course and enjoy it even more on the way down but don't forget to pedal hard on the downhill and downwind bits too! When inside the last few miles, dig as deep as you possibly can – every second counts!!!
By the time you arrive at the finish you should be ready to collapse in a heap and be barely capable of another pedal stroke. Well, free wheel down the road until at least out of sight of the finish line first.
There is a real feeling of euphoria as you pedal back to HQ – the early start will have felt worth it!
photo by Gavin Percy