Many people have wondered what a time trial competition is, how it works, and all it is about. How does it work for someone who competes in other cycling disciplines to keep trying in a time trial?
What is a time trial about?
Time trial, or time trial if we avoid getting tips from the cyclist, is one of the most honest competitions in cycling. The race is you, on a bike, riding a certain track, as fast as you can, point. Competitors are started at regular intervals, one at a time. Compared to street cycling, many relevant factors and external stimuli such as group formations, cycling around other competitors have been erased, and most ideas about tactics or competition plans do not apply. There is nothing more honest than riding one as fast as possible and getting a fair comparison with the next competitor, who went the same way, in the same situation, without the help of other competitors. Many people love it, and many people hate it. There are often strong opinions in this competition, and in my opinion, being interested in a time trial is a sign of an unwavering passion for racing cycling. It’s all about going from one point to another as quickly as possible, in the shortest possible time and the fastest. Competitions can be quick, down to 6-7 minutes (often called a prologue and is a prelude to a multi-event match), but they can also go well over an hour, as is common in the world’s largest tournaments in the sport.
Ok, do I need a TT bike then?
Yes and no. Time Puzzle is a specialized discipline that focuses on the individual’s ability to go as fast as possible. Another article that, on the surface, is completely different but is based on the same ideas is mountain burning. Both disciplines have in common that competitors use specialized bikes that do not have much activity outside of their fields, which makes it uncommon for people to own such bikes, even though there is a lot of competition in other disciplines. In short, a time trial bike is the best tool for the job, but street bikes work perfectly, although they are limited in this context. Time trial wheels are specially designed to go as straight as possible, with a handlebar that allows the competitor to push harder and reduce the surface area, flat rods in the frame that go quickly through the air and deep, sometimes solid, fences that go even further with the wind resistance theory that such wheels revolve around a lot. In most competitions, anyone can participate, whether it is a street bike or a time trial bike.
How is the track?
Competition tracks are very diverse and varied. Some are long, others short, some complex with bends and slopes, others as designed with a ruler with no bends except a possible turning point to go back to the goal, where there was a channel goal. Most time trial tracks are fairly simple, as not a large part of the sport complicates matters. The technical ability of competitors gives way to power and sheer strength. Still, there are examples of technical tracks at higher levels in the sport that sometimes ignite the competitive spirit of the toughest street bike competitors. It is good to check the competition route before the competition; it is often so short that it is no problem to go there a few days before the match, check the conditions and test the equipment to be used on the day of the competition. This can help you get an idea of the time it will take to complete the race.
When should I show up? Need to warm up?
I like to set up a competition day to arrive at the competition site at least 90 minutes before the start, but preferably 2 hours. It may seem like a long time, but often time flies when preparing for a competition, and there is little better for body and soul than being considered and calm until the start. The 2 hours I have from the time I usually attend, dress up in a competition uniform, pick up competition materials and attach them to a costume or bike, go over bikes and other equipment, make sure everything is completely clean, ensure that water bottles and gels are present, and start heating. It is a good rule of thumb that the warm-up becomes more important as the competitions get shorter, and the main reason for this is that in a quick match, there is less time for mistakes and poor performance, which can often be improved in the middle of competition when time allows. You start with 100% efficiency in a short time trial, and you want to end with 100% efficiency. It’s hard to do without warming up well. An example of a warm-up for a 30-minute race is a 45-60-minute ride in the area near the start, with a slow start with a steadily rising load and a few short runs to get blood in your feet and turn on the race spirit a bit.
What is the best thing to do in the competition itself?
The best time trial is cycled at 100% performance all the time. It’s easy to say, harder to explain and hardest to implement. When I talk about 100% efficiency, I mean that all potential energy, strength, and ability are drained and finished when you reach the finish line. No leftovers and no reserves that are not used in the competition itself. It’s not a big-time to do this over a 30-60 minute race, but these minutes seem to take an eternity once the race starts. The main mistake for people is to start with too much energy, even to start, and to be too tired in the second half, when more than half of the power is gone, but half of the race is still left. This means that you have to slow down at some point, and then you accumulate unnecessary time that you do not want to spend on the track. The race is about spending as little time as possible on the track, but you have to be aware of keeping a steady and tight load all the way. Start slowly, raising the bag to the point that you feel you can maintain for some time, and when you know it’s a short time later, increases the load even more, if possible, to finish in the shortest amount of time.
The time trial is about competing with oneself, and for many, it is the most fun part of the sport. No one can hide from the next competitor or play tactically. You have to ride the fastest to win—a perfect ratio of challenge and simplicity.