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Time trialing Beginner's Guide

What is a Time Trial?

Time trials (TT) have been the mainstay of British club cycling for over 80 years and are the simplest of competitive formats: a race against the clock, with riders starting a minute apart. It's known as the 'Race of Truth' because there's nowhere to hide, no one to draft behind; just you, the bike, the pounding of your legs and the thumping of your heart.......and a clock ticking!  The winner is the rider who records the fastest time but many riders just ride to improve their own personal best times. Cyclists of all abilities can take part in time trialing as the aim is to ride a set course as fast as possible. Traditionally TTs are held over standard distances of 10, 25 and 50 miles and on relatively flat and fast circuits. “Sporting” courses, of non-standard distance, run on B roads and typically not as flat, are becoming more popular. Events are held on courses and at times when there is likely to be little other traffic on the course so that riders are not impeded at junctions and turns

What equipment do I need?

Time Trialing is a great way of getting into bike racing as it allows you start with minimal equipment or fitness, and you can gauge your progress as your times improve. All you need to compete is a basic road bike although as you become more established you will find there are plenty of opportunities to spend money on a more specialised “low pro” machine. Helmets are not compulsory in time trialing. There are many aids that you can use to reduce wind resistance and hence make you go faster. These include clothing such as skinsuits, aerodynamic helmets, aerodynamic wheels, and triathlon handle bars. Many keen time triallists will have a bike adapted specifically for this type of racing.

How fit do I need to be?

There is no restriction on fitness for time trialing. Anyone can enter any time trial event and take part. In some popular open events, the entry may be oversubscribed, in which case only the fastest riders are allowed to take part.

How do I take part?

The UK governing body, Cycling Time Trials (CTT), sanctions over 2,000 open events that run year round, although most are held between March and mid-October. To take part in a CTT event, you must be a member of an affiliated club such as Andover Wheelers. It is also possible to take out private membership directly but most cyclists prefer to join a local club. Most clubs organise regular club time trials during the summer evenings. The Andover Wheelers offers a full season of club events with Hilly sporting courses, hill climbs (organised under the same rules and regulations, typically run through September to November, a course goes from the bottom to the top of a designated hill), as well as more traditional 10 & 25 mile events held on local courses. All you have to do is turn up, pay the entry fee, collect a number and ride. These are low key, fun events in which lots of club members take part. As a club member you can also ride other clubs events although it’s always worth checking with the organiser first. There are also Open events which usually take place on Saturdays and Sundays. These events feature prizes and trophies and are more competitive. Open events are often over longer distances such as 25 miles or 50 miles. The 25 mile time trial is the 'blue ribbon' event of cycling and lots of club rider’s ride this distance with the ambition of getting under the hour for 25 miles, which is a tough, but achievable goal for many cyclists. To enter an Open event, you must fill in the standard CTT entry form and send it to the race organiser at least two weeks before the event, together with the entry fee (usually 5 to 8). You can download a form from the CTT website: www.ctt.org.uk. The CTT produces an annual handbook of Open events that you can buy mail order from them for about 5.

I want to have a go

The best way to experience time trialing for the first time is to race in one of the Club’s events which occur every Tuesday night during the summer months, and which you can enter on the night. Full details of Andover Wheeler events, can be found on the Club Events Page.  All you need to do is get there at least half-an-hour before the event starts with a roadworthy bike and a small entry fee – normally it’s 3.50 but for the first time competitor it is free to enter. You will be given a start number and then it is the nervous wait for the start.....5,4,3,2,1 and you're off! Easy? Of course it is and if it's your first time you're guaranteed a personal best time and you've got something to aim at next time. All the Andover Wheelers events are 'Come & Try It' so why not give it a go?

 

Click here to read the Beginner’s guide on the CTT Website.