The Three T’s of Time Trialing
Getting the most out of your time trialing, as in practically all sports, requires using the 3 T’s-Training, Technique, and Technology. Successfully using all three aspects of time trialing will help you realize the potential of your natural ability, and can help you compete with more powerful riders who may not be using all of these tools.
The key to time trialing is intensity. To increase your TT fitness, perform several intense efforts either at, or slightly above your normal TT pace. Ask Kyle to give you an idea of what number and duration of intervals that will fit your fitness level. Also very important is training in your time trial position. To be powerful when you’re bent over on your aerobars, it helps greatly to train in the aero position.
Unlike training, many aspects of this “T” can be applied immediately, giving you “free speed”.
· Flat back- To minimize drag; work on lowering your torso. Try to get as low as possible while still being able to generate your power.
· Arms In- Position your aerobar pads in so that your elbows are not sticking out beyond your torso.
· Course Management- Look for the smoothest road surface, maintain the highest SAFE cornering speed possible, get over hills quickly, as they can cost you time. If approaching a hill, back off just enough to have the energy to climb quickly.
· Cadence- Your cycling power is defined two ways, how much force you apply to the pedals, and how often you apply that force. Just as you can train your legs to be stronger, you can also train them to be faster. Here is an example of two different cadences using the same 53x18 gear.
53x18 @ 85rpm = 19.43mph
53x18 @ 95rpm = 21.72mph
With no increase in force, a 10rpm increase in pedal cadence yields 2.29mph. This can take a little time to get comfortable with, but is well worth the effort. Try thinking “spin with power” while training.
Here are some pieces of equipment that, used individually, can shave seconds off your time. When used together, they can actually knock minutes off your race time.
· Computer w/Cadence Meter- Helps you focus on your spin while training, or racing.
· Heart Rate Monitor- Gives you feedback on your intensity and effort.
· Aero Helmet- Love ‘em or hate ’em, they will make you faster. A low cost option is taping the vents on your standard road helmet, which will decrease drag somewhat, but will not reduce aft turbulence like the tail on a good aero helmet will.
· Skinsuit or Tight Jersey- If your clothes are flapping, they’re slowing you down.
· Lycra Shoe Covers- A cheap and easy way to knock 10 seconds off your 20k time.
· Aerobars with bar end shifters- Simply put, aerobars are a must if you’re serious about time trialing. Much faster than standard road bars, they can also help you relax your upper body and focus all of your energy into your pedal stroke.
· Aero frame & fork- Ovalized tubes and internal cable routing reduce drag, and the better aero frames are designed to get you into a powerful AND aerodynamic position.
· Aero wheels- A well designed deep dish or disc wheelset can add some significant speed to your TT rig. Contrary to popular belief, they are the MOST effective in windy conditions. In crosswinds over 20mph however, a standard front wheel is recommended for steering stability. Rear disc wheels remain stable in crosswinds up to 30mph.
· Crankarm length- The “Final Frontier” of bicycle fit, this is a wide open topic, and opinions are all over the map, but there are two basic truths concerning crankarm length. A longer arm gives you more leverage, a shorter one is easier to spin. My advice is to use the biggest crank that you can spin to 90+ rpms.
One more note: Many of these tips are very helpful to road cyclists. The premise is the same, train hard, use proper technique, and get into an aerodynamic position.
I hope that these tips will help you set a new personal best on whatever event you may be attending, be it a Wednesday night TT, triathlon, or road race.