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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I will be racing in my first time trial this weekend, and I was wondering what strategy I should take during the race, other than go as fast as I can. The course is like this:

First 0.5 miles: Flat
Next 0.3: 10% climb
Next 0.4: 2% false flat
Next 0.3: 2% descent
Next 0.5: 2% false flat
Next 0.5: 1% descent
Next 0.5: 2% false flat
Next 0.5: Flat

I am just going to be riding my normal road bike with some aerobars, but my main question is how do you start out in a TT? Start off in a higher gear and stand and sprint til I get my cadence up? I think I will be able to stand up and power up the .3 mile climb. Do you stand up and sprint to the finish in a TT? Sorry if these are dumb questions, but I really have no idea what kind of strategy there is for TTs. Thanks!
 

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General concepts

There are two obvious aspects to doing time trials. Training and the event itself. There are three key training points: 1) Do 3-5 minute intervals at speeds above what you want to do in the TT, with 2-3 minute recoveries in between. Depending on your current fitness and desire, do as many as 5 intervals, twice a week with at least a day off (recovery rides) in between . You might also do a couple of 10-15 minute intervals (5 minute recovery) as well. 2) Have a good base of mileage before actually doing a TT (500-1,000 miles). The amount would vary with TT distance and your general fitness and cycling experience, but the longer the planned event, the more base mileage you should have to both perform well and more importantly, avoid injury. 3) Work on your position. Get as low as possible on the bike while still being able to breath well. Hold that position for long periods. If you're going to use aero bars, practice with them. And practice your turnarounds.

For the event itself, there are a whole bunch of little points which, when added together can both improve your time and make the TT a more "enjoyable" ride. Be well fed and well hydrated, with a good carbo intake the day before and the day of the event. If its an evening ride, snack & sip through the afternoon. Some caffeine 30-60 minutes before the ride doesn't hurt. Be well warmed up - the saying is the shorter the TT, the longer you should warm up. A 10 mile ride to warm up for a 10 mile TT is good. Shortly before your start, do a couple of "jumps" up to maximum effort for 1/4-1/2 mile to get your body ready for a fast start. Arrive at the line sweating, but not out of breath, and ready for a rapid acceleration up to TT speed. Try to get to your maximum sustainable effort ASAP (remember, you're already warmed up). If your legs seem like they are the limit to going faster, shift to a lower gear. If your lungs seem like your limit, shift to a higher gear. Get into your best aero position and stay there. For the turnaround, hold your speed as long as possible, jam the brakes and bank the turn faster than you think you can go. Forget this business about sprinting for the finish - you should have nothing left to sprint with. Around here, the finish of a TT is described as "notfarfrompukin" if you get my point.

With a 10% grade, your biggest risk is that you will go "over limit" and blow, from which you will not recover. 3.5 miles is a very short TT, so the warmup and your ability to take it quickly to the red line (but not over) and hold it will be key. Any chance you could practice on that course? That would be really helpful to hone your strategy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow thanks for all the info. I don't believe I will have an opportunity to ride the course before the TT unfortunately. I'm not sure how good of shape I will be in for the TT since I've only been riding since a little before Christmas. I've logged about 500 miles since then, 103 of which were done on a century (6 hours and 15 minutes in the rain). I've also done one road race this spring (54 miles). Also, there is a road race that afternoon, so I don't want to be totally spent for the race later in the day. How long should I warm up for a 3.5 mile TT?
 

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TBomb said:
Wow thanks for all the info. I don't believe I will have an opportunity to ride the course before the TT unfortunately. I'm not sure how good of shape I will be in for the TT since I've only been riding since a little before Christmas. I've logged about 500 miles since then, 103 of which were done on a century (6 hours and 15 minutes in the rain). I've also done one road race this spring (54 miles). Also, there is a road race that afternoon, so I don't want to be totally spent for the race later in the day. How long should I warm up for a 3.5 mile TT?

Thanks for getting the thread started. I've been curious too as I'm thinking about a 12 mile TT on Feb 26th in Vanc, WA. Doesn't seem like it's too crazy, just flat out and back, but it could be fun and good experience.

I think the key is getting more used to the aero position and being able to hold it as you get more tired. I know I have a hard time staying in the drops when I'm totally spent and revert to riding crouched on the hoods...probably not the most aero position. Anyway, I've been trying to incorporate some longer pulls in an aero position during my road rides. Hopefully that will help.

It probably goes without saying to wear very tight fitting clothing to reduce drag.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Funny story about riding in the drops...my first race (and only one to date) was in a real hilly area with some nice winds...about 6 miles into it, after the third big hill, I got dropped...finished the remaining 48 miles basically on my own, about 80% of it in the drops. Still managed to average 18.7mph by myself in the wind and hills. I got dropped because I was a newb and nervous and didn't really know what I needed to do to avoid getting gapped and subsequently dropped. Oh well...live and learn.
 

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Jack frost.

Ride like hell. Ignore all pain. Don't vomit too much.

Kerry has tons of good advice, I don't have a lot to add other than this mental technique that helped me gain full 1k / hr difference:

Ram your knees into your chest. No, of course, not really, but I needed to focus on bringing my leg ALL the way up and then HAMMERING it down. I was doing to much of a "spin," which meant the part from 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock on the stroke was a little more dead than it needed to be. Just by concentrating on a "locomotive" type leg motion I sped up.

Oh, and as far as aero position, your legs are important, too -- keep 'em CLOSE to the top tube. Bring in the Q factor on your cleats for the TT if this is feasible. Try it before the TT to make sure the angle works for you.
 

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Forget the aerobars if you don't ride them on a regular basis. Do a very solid workout including a couple of minutes at a point where you breathe heavily and have a slight burn in your legs. If I'm not mistaken this is the Tour of New Braunfels TT, you want to start out firm but go a little slower than you feel you can, climb the hill seated and gear down as much as you need to, after the hill you want to find a rhythm you can hold to the end, find that place between a slight to a hard burn. Keep in mind that the pain will be for less than 10 minutes (whether it is or not) good luck. I'm skipping the TT but will do the RR and crit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
52-16SS said:
Forget the aerobars if you don't ride them on a regular basis. Do a very solid workout including a couple of minutes at a point where you breathe heavily and have a slight burn in your legs. If I'm not mistaken this is the Tour of New Braunfels TT, you want to start out firm but go a little slower than you feel you can, climb the hill seated and gear down as much as you need to, after the hill you want to find a rhythm you can hold to the end, find that place between a slight to a hard burn. Keep in mind that the pain will be for less than 10 minutes (whether it is or not) good luck. I'm skipping the TT but will do the RR and crit.
Yep, Tour of New Braunfels. I'll be one of several guys out there in Texas A&M gear. Thanks for the advice, sounds like you've ridden this TT before.
 

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Warmup

TBomb said:
How long should I warm up for a 3.5 mile TT?
It sounds like you don't have a lot of miles in your legs to be racing, but hey, knock yourself out :) For a TT that is likely to last less than 10 minutes, I would warm up for at least 30 minutes.
 

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Attack the Hills

Aside from the risk of blowing up on the 10 percent climb you should put more effort into the hills and false flats. You can always recover a bit on the descents. At a given wattage (constant effort) you would lose more time on the up hill portions, therefore, its best to put in a greater effort there. Again though pace yourself reasonably to avoid blowing up.
 

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Kerry Irons said:
There are two obvious aspects to doing time trials. Training and the event itself. There are three key training points: 1) Do 3-5 minute intervals at speeds above what you want to do in the TT, with 2-3 minute recoveries in between. Depending on your current fitness and desire, do as many as 5 intervals, twice a week with at least a day off (recovery rides) in between . You might also do a couple of 10-15 minute intervals (5 minute recovery) as well. 2) Have a good base of mileage before actually doing a TT (500-1,000 miles). The amount would vary with TT distance and your general fitness and cycling experience, but the longer the planned event, the more base mileage you should have to both perform well and more importantly, avoid injury. 3) Work on your position. Get as low as possible on the bike while still being able to breath well. Hold that position for long periods. If you're going to use aero bars, practice with them. And practice your turnarounds.

For the event itself, there are a whole bunch of little points which, when added together can both improve your time and make the TT a more "enjoyable" ride. Be well fed and well hydrated, with a good carbo intake the day before and the day of the event. If its an evening ride, snack & sip through the afternoon. Some caffeine 30-60 minutes before the ride doesn't hurt. Be well warmed up - the saying is the shorter the TT, the longer you should warm up. A 10 mile ride to warm up for a 10 mile TT is good. Shortly before your start, do a couple of "jumps" up to maximum effort for 1/4-1/2 mile to get your body ready for a fast start. Arrive at the line sweating, but not out of breath, and ready for a rapid acceleration up to TT speed. Try to get to your maximum sustainable effort ASAP (remember, you're already warmed up). If your legs seem like they are the limit to going faster, shift to a lower gear. If your lungs seem like your limit, shift to a higher gear. Get into your best aero position and stay there. For the turnaround, hold your speed as long as possible, jam the brakes and bank the turn faster than you think you can go. Forget this business about sprinting for the finish - you should have nothing left to sprint with. Around here, the finish of a TT is described as "notfarfrompukin" if you get my point.

With a 10% grade, your biggest risk is that you will go "over limit" and blow, from which you will not recover. 3.5 miles is a very short TT, so the warmup and your ability to take it quickly to the red line (but not over) and hold it will be key. Any chance you could practice on that course? That would be really helpful to hone your strategy.
Good advice. The real trick is to time your puke as you cross the finish line. Try to sprint if you can at the finish just in case it comes down to 1/ 100th of a second between placings.
 

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Not really a sprint, but I definitely pick it up in the last kilometer or so. Pretty much all out, and trying to time it so I'd blow up if I had to hold that pace any further than the finish line.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Kerry Irons said:
It sounds like you don't have a lot of miles in your legs to be racing, but hey, knock yourself out :) For a TT that is likely to last less than 10 minutes, I would warm up for at least 30 minutes.
I probably don't have enough miles to be really competitive on the road, but I figure there's no better way to get some miles and some race experience than to start racing. I've raced mountain bikes for a while, so I know I'm in at least decent shape, and my handling skills are pretty good IMO.
 

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first climb relaxed (do not burn yourself out in the climbing)
you will save seconds if you are going hard and fast down
compared to climbing hard up and relax down.
(the speed difference and seconds saving are bigger at high speed.)
But don't climb to relaxed! ;)

The best thing you can do is to timetest this at a route you does know.
test hard climbing/ relax down against relax climb/hard down.
 

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Do all of the above. It's also recommended to pre-ride the course. Know the corners and the finish. Know the finish and pick out land marks so that you know when you can turn it up.
 

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I ride this stretch of road almost weekly as part of 40-60 mile rides. I climb the steepest part of the hill out of the saddle, aim to a point just past the telephone pole where it begins to flatten, and then sit down and get ready to grind all the way around the left hand corner and up the false flat.
 

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Start in a gear that will let you accellerate fast with expending to much energy. If your cyclocomputer has average speed watch that. Figure out what time you think you can do it in and figure the ave. speed for that time. And cadence is also helpful try to keep it above 90. Last year I did a best of 21.7 ave speed for 15 miles on a mountain bike. This year I got a road bike and hope to be in the 23-24 ave speed range.
 

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tidelag said:
you will save seconds if you are going hard and fast down
compared to climbing hard up and relax down.
(the speed difference and seconds saving are bigger at high speed.)
This is completely wrong, have been proved many times. Very simple math shows it - do it yorself.
 
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