Time Trailing Secrets – 5 Tips To Crack Time Trials

Time trials cracked! The secret to success unraveled! Empower yourself with scientific knowledge for optimal performance in the Race of Truth!!


So you have a Time Trial lined up, you’ve got the gear, have you got the game to quench your need for speed? Or have you got butterflies in your tummy? Whatever it is, these five tips should help prep you up and get those butterflies in formation!!

  • High aerobic power – Interval training helps in building speed by improving the aerobic threshold, the key to sustained efforts. Anaerobic efforts generate blocks of power but cannot support sustained efforts. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions are more effective in increasing the aerobic threshold than Long Steady (LS) rides.You can moderate the intensity of these sessions by manipulating the number of repetitions and the span of recovery periods. It has been observed that Micro Intervals (15 – 30 sec) have a drastic impact on performance.
  • Knowing and pacing self through the course – The adage – Knowledge is power holds true for Time Trialing too…!! Knowing the course helps you in managing the effort through the ride. For example, in a classic ten mile ITT, jumping to the red zone in the initial build up will accelerate lactic acid build forcing you to slow down and recover through the ride. A steady start, will a controlled effort and a push and burst nearing the finish, will guarantee better performance in a race; Time Trial included. An understanding of the wind pattern (if it’s an out and back course), the gradient (Flyovers and climbs), areas of tree cover and buildings that provide relief from the wind vastly improves performance on the course.
  • Ability to stay focused – Riding alone has its own advantages and disadvantages. With the clock ticking and no other marker to gauge relative performance, your mind must focus on the numbers and the miles being munched. The Power Meter, HRM and the Trip Meter data must be interpreted right and the necessary tweaks done for optimal performance. It is easy to lose attention and ease out on the effort or get carried over to the red zone. For example, when riding a TT, I constantly gauge the HRM value with the perceived exertion levels and current speed (I don’t own a power meter yet) and have a mental map about the distance to be covered and the discomfort experienced. If the discomfort is high relative to the distance to be covered, I reduce the effort and vice versa. This works perfect as I study the course and course conditions before any race.
  • Aerodynamics – Aerodynamics help you in understanding and managing the wind resistance by streamlining the flow of wind around you and bike. When installing aero bars on road bikes, care should be taken that your position on the bike is altered so that the head does not stick out on top. This negates the aerodynamic advantage of the aero bars and you would have been more comfortable with even an aero edge if on the drops. Likewise, the final push to the finish must be done sitting down. Out of the saddle sprints might contribute to increased power output, but will mess up with the aerodynamics.
  • Just not the miles, know the meters too
    • Power Meter – Helps monitor output in relation to the effort and fine tune the ride.
    • Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) – Might not be the correct device to measure effort instantaneously. As HRMs suffer from Heart Rate Lag, the actual heart rate might have in instances moved into the anaerobic zone by the time it pops up in the meter. And when it is picked up it is always a little too late for optimal performance.
    • It is best to relate power and heart rate data and increase efforts in small steps rather than going for a big push. While Power is the absolute output, HRM projects what the body is going through to produce the output. So, both are interlinked and cannot be looked at separately.

Now that you know the secrets, step two is to use the knowledge to your advantage. These did help me scale up. Training needs dedication and consistency. Knowledge of best practices add an edge to your regular training but can’t and won’t substitute the sweat. If these tips have helped you improve your Time Trialing skills, drop a comment and share your experience.

Ride, Race, Recover, Repeat..!!

– DS

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