time-trial-cycling-ireland

Time Trialing Round Up

 

Time Trialing (Part 4 of 4 – Aaron Buggle)

Part 1 here

Part 2 here

Part 3 here

In this four part blog series I have only skimmed the surface but I have given you the lowest hanging fruit in terms of the biggest and quickest improvements. There is a lot more to time trialing than we have covered here, such as equipment choices, advanced positioning and other topics. What we have gone through this series is the essential information you’ll need to perform well in TT’s. The time trial can be a very rewarding discipline when you prepare and pull off a performance, improvements can be seen and measured so easily, and your hard work will directly impact your results, which sometimes is often not the case with road racing. Your performance in time trials is almost entirely under your control, with a lot less variables in play compared to road racing and a lot these variables are controllable. A personal best in a time trial is an extremely rewarding feeling, so the winner isn’t the only one going home happy, as is so often the case in road racing.

 

Open to All

Reading about equipment, many people may think that time trialing is an expensive pursuit reserved for those who are seriously invested in the sport. However this is not the case. Many clubs around the country will run time trials once a week, and many competitors turn up on standard road bikes with no aero equipment. Also these midweek time trials are offering non-aero or “ Eddie Merckx style” categories, to level the playing field as such. All levels of rider can enjoy time trialing, whether it is competing for the win, trying to achieve a personal best, or just trying to beat their friends, it is a very inclusive discipline, all you need is a bike, and the ability to ride the distance of the course.

 

It is easy to romanticise the time trial, one rider solo, battling against the clock, but make no mistake, time trials will be some of the hardest efforts you ever complete on the bike. The added motivation of a stopwatch, and other competitors really help you to dig deep to try and squeeze every bit of speed from your machine before crossing the line. Following a time trial you will inevitably identify areas where you could have gained seconds, whether it is from going around the roundabouts quicker, or going harder on a headwind section, it is rare that you finish a TT without having made some mistakes. However on those rare occasions where you really empty the tank, rode the course to the best of your ability, and reaped the benefits of all those hours spent training, the feeling of satisfaction is immense and very rewarding.

 

Time trials are an excellent event for any cyclist to compete in, regardless of their fitness, experience, or budget. Hopefully this blog series proved helpful and informative, and sparked some interest in better preparing yourself for the race against the clock. If you have any more in-depth questions about the world of time trialing please give us a shout!

 

See you at the start gate!

time trial

Training For Time Trials

 

Time Trialing (Part 3 of 4 – Aaron Buggle)

Time trialing is a discipline that places different physiological demands on a rider than road racing does, so it is only natural that the training is different for them. When training for time trials it’s really a case of quality of quantity and no pain no gain. You are required to ride at a high percentage of your aerobic capacity for a prolonged period of time so clearly there’s no need to train your explosiveness. It’s a mixture of sub- threshold, threshold and vo2 max work that will make you a better tester.

For most time trials the biggest training focus is on raising your FTP so we will take a look at that first – but it’s not the only variable. There are a number of ways of accomplishing a higher FTP.

Session Examples

-Longer “sweet spot” efforts, typically longer efforts carried out at around 85 – 90% of FTP

-Zone 5/Z4 plus efforts that “pull” your threshold up from above, examples include 4 x 8 minutes @ 104% of FTP with 4 minutes recovery between each.

-Zone 4 training sessions such as 2 X 20 minutes Z4 with five minutes recovery.

-Over-Under or crisscross efforts are another method of training commonly used. These efforts involve riding just under your threshold, followed by a short period over threshold, before then returning to an effort level just under threshold.

For riders using a heart rate monitor it is important not to go too hard at the beginning of longer efforts, such as the 20-minute threshold, and sweet spot intervals mentioned here.

Zone 4 Threshold Intervals

Riders tend to start these efforts too hard, in order to “bring their heart rate up” to the correct zone. This is a big mistake, as heart rate can take 3-5 minutes to reach the desired level when performing these intervals. A better method is to use perceived exertion for the first five minutes until your heart rate reaches threshold. Try and hold a 7 or 8 out of 10 effort, and you should find your heart rate gradually climbing into zone 4.

Z5/Lactate Clearance Training

Sometimes you are required to ride for sustained periods above your FTP, for example a short steep hill within a long time trial or even those short TT’s ridden predominantly about your FTP. This requires both an ability to tolerate high levels of lactate/blood acidity and hold solid form and an ability to clear the lactate and waste products rapidly after a period above FTP so you can return to cruising speed as quick as possible. The over-under intervals, and Z5 intervals mentioned previously, both cause adaptations that will help you become proficient in this area

Position Specificity

Following the principle of specificity, it is best to do sessions aimed at improving your time trialing on your TT bike/in your TT position. Nearly all riders find that they cannot produce the same power numbers in this position at first. This is due to the different hip angle, and different muscle recruitment demanded by a time trial position. However this power loss can be mitigated, and even eliminated, by training in the time trial position.

This is an area that can give a rider huge improvements in performance, and is a key aspect of training for time trials. I used to do my long endurance rides on the TT bike to improve my ability to produce power in that position, while 4 hour rides on the TT bike may be excessive for most riders, it illustrates the importance of maximising the time spent in your TT position. A more practical tip for amateur riders is to perform your recovery rides on the TT bike. These rides when performed regularly will really help in adapting your body to produce power in a TT position. Training will have tangible effects on your results in time trialing, unlike road racing where there are a lot of variables outside your control can affect your results, time trialing is a much more controlled environment.

Training for time trials is a very rewarding process, the more effort you put in, the more you get out and they are not called “the race of truth” for nothing!

Time Trial 2017 - A1Members

Introduction To Time Trialing

 

Time Trialing (Part 1 of 4 – Aaron Buggle)

Firstly, time trialing happens to be my favorite discipline in cycling. I’ve always been drawn towards the contrast between the crazy technical aspects and the pure simplicity of covering a set distance as fast as you possibly can. I’m a fully-fledged TT nerd if I’m honest. I was first attracted to time trialing because of its purity; it’s you, your bike and a clock. You go away and prepare meticulously then turn up with your game plan/homework done ready to empty the tank and most often the best (prepared) rider on the day wins. Right you guys know I love it – but the truth is the vast majority of cyclists fear time trials and often voice their hatred towards them.  More often than not it’s down to a lack willingness to prepare adequately for them. In this four part series I’m going to compile some of the key tips I’ve picked up over the years that you can apply fast and yield big results.

Pacing

I’ve spent years preparing for time trials from national championships to the worlds and now I’m proud to say I’m taking other riders through that same system – minus all the silly mistakes that cost me time along the way. Time Trialing is a discipline of cycling that many riders struggle with, whether it is pacing, position, or training, the race against the clock can be a problem area for even the most experienced of cyclists. For riders who struggle with them, time trials typically follow this familiar pattern. Start off way too hard, realise halfway through that you cannot sustain your effort, slow down to what feels like a snail’s pace, and suffer like hell until you cross the line. Pacing is one of the most important aspects of a successful time trial, so mistakes made here have a huge impact on your finishing time. With the advent of the power meter pacing has become easier in some respects, but riders still make huge errors of judgement in this area and some believe the only thing to a fast TT is holding the highest average power! Speed wins races –not power. With or without a power meter a perfectly paced TT is a combination of art and science and without preparation in terms of pacing you’re setting yourself up for a fail.

Position

The restrictive, position used in time trials can also be difficult for riders, it’s pretty intuitive that we all want to adopt the fastest possible position but this is extremely individual. Turning up to a time trial without being properly adapted to your TT position is a recipe for disaster, with cramps, massive drops in power, and huge discomfort being just some of the myriad of problems riders encounter if they are insufficiently adapted to their TT position. Lack of flexibility can also cause issues with maintaining a TT position, with riders often having difficulty with the lower, and more stretched out position adopted for time trials. There are many simple tricks one can do to accustom yourself to you low profile position you just need to give it attention and drop the ‘just ride your bike attitude’ because it doesn’t apply to time trialing. A nerd with his or her homework and preparation on point will beat you on the day. I see it all the time; riders with huge thresholds on their road bikes simply can’t produce the same power in their TT position. This is a simple fix – IF you’re willing to give it the time it needs.

Training

Training can also prove problematic, with many good road riders finding themselves completely unprepared for the long steady state effort of a time trial. Many riders also have difficulty with producing high power outputs on flat roads, as opposed to climbs, leaving them underperforming in TT’s compared to what they could do on a gradient. With time trials playing a key part in deciding the general classification in many stage races, a poor TT can often be the Achilles heel for many riders, really holding them back from achieving results in these big events. However it doesn’t have to be this way. In this blog series we will break down the process of becoming a better time trialist, help you to master the discipline, and help to change time trialing from being a dreaded weakness, to something you look forward to. The key to getting faster on your TT bike is controlling as many of the performance indicators as you possibly can, we break down these key performance indicators, from position, pacing and training. Make sure to check back for the next installment of this series, where you can learn the key information that will help maximise your abilities in time trials.

Aaron Buggle