Time Trial – The Race of Truth

A time trial is a discipline in cycling where riders race against the clock as a team (Team Time Trial) or as individuals (Individual Time Trial) on a set course.  Riders are given a start in intervals with a countdown, while being held in position by a holder.

Any terrain which suits a road race is right for a Time Trial. Dual carriageways open to traffic, mountain climbs, cobbles and city roads with sparse traffic fit the bill. The course can be a one way loop (point A – B), or an out and back circuit.

Ashwin cutting through the wind on his Scott Plasma. Photo Credit – KP Krishnan
The Team Time Trial

Teams of up-to four riders compete to complete the course in the quickest time possible. The weakest link theory applies here, a team is as strong as its weakest rider. Stronger teams have riders of similar ability riding together. A rider with lesser ability also can be part of a strong team, by doing shorter stints pulling in front above Lactate Threshold (LT), when compared to team mates and then falling back to recover quickly.

The Equipment

Time Trial bikes are specialized equipment when compared to normal road bikes. A road bike set-up with a Tri/Aero bar can also be used in a time trial. They are of similar weight or a little heavier than road bikes as aerodynamics and not weight is the key design factor.

Time trial bikes have a smaller frame allowing handle bars to be set lower than the saddle, thus enabling an aggressive riding posture.  It is key to note that, there can be no trade-off in comfort and efficiency in the pursuit of aerodynamics.

The wheels are deep dish, with the rear usually being a disk to reduce aerodynamic drag and cheat the wind. The front wheel normally is deep section or tri-spoke. Disk wheels which are heavy are not used in the front as it would make the bike unsteady while maneuvering and while riding on windy courses.

The bikes are often equipped with a single chain-ring usually above 53 teeth, combined with a close ratio rear cassette.

Rider gear is normally a skin-suit with aero helmets like the SCOTT Split and soft shell over shoes to aid aerodynamics. Every attempt is made to squeeze out aerodynamic drag.

Riding a Time Trial

Participating in time trials have become a lot easier in India due to club events conducted in different cities. The popular ones in South India being the,

A Time Trial is known as the “Race of Truth”, riders battle it alone, against the elements and self.

The five secrets for successful time trialing

  • High aerobic power
  • Knowing and pacing self through the course
  • Ability to stay focused – Concentration
  • Aerodynamics
  • Not just the miles, know the meters too!

For amateur cyclists who like to graduate to the next level, a time trial provides a launch pad to evaluate performance in absolute terms. It is indeed the safest bet to make a mark in the amateur racing circuit.

Are you starting off  in the amateur racing circuit? Do you agree that Time Trials work best for a budding racer?   Do leave a comment and follow the page for regular updates..!!

Ride, Race, Recover and Repeat…!!



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