Time trial (TT) racing can be an exhilarating activity and a great way to reach your fitness goals. Here's a breakdown of how time trial cycling works and tips to boost your own time trial performance:
What is Time Trial Cycling?
Time trial (TT) racing is a world of its own in competitive cycling. You're just one rider against the clock, with no peloton and no pacers to pull you as you draft to regain strength.
The isolation of the sport is a huge factor that can allow you to create big separations between yourself and your competition. They can't follow you like they can in a group race. There's also no way to reference how the competition is doing. You just have to put your head down and book it.
Time trials can be a stand-alone event or part of a stage race, where your TT time is factored into your general classification (GC), which is the accumulated time for a rider throughout each stage.
One of the best resources on the topic of time trial cycling is Jim Miller, V.P. of Athletics at USA Cycling. He coached Kristin Armstrong during her 2008 Olympic run to a TT gold medal, and he oversees USA Cycling's world championship and Olympic teams. He's also in charge of USA Cycling's National Development Program, whose goal is building the next generation of American professional cyclists.
Time Trial Cycling Vs. Peloton Cycling
Miller emphasizes the diversity of skills required to succeed in time trial cycling. "It (time trial cycling) is an acquired skill -- you don't just know how to do it," Miller says. "It takes a lot of practice just understanding the physiology, biomechanics and aerodynamics."
Also, "You can produce the most power in the world but with a poor setup or positioning on bike, it doesn't matter. You'll get beat," Miller adds.