Racing Your First Time Trial

AP Photo/Laurent Rebours

It's called the race of truth. The individual time trial is a part of the bike racing discipline that is often overlooked, even by the professionals. This article is part one of a series of three articles that will discuss how to ride a time trial (TT).

Time trialing is a great way to break into the sport and get a taste for what it feels like to hold a sustained effort for as long as you can on a bicycle. If you're a new racer and aren't ready to mix it up with a 20 or more other twitchy riders in a mass start event, then the TT might be for you.

More: Time Trial Cycling 101

If you don't have these items, you need to get them before you can begin racing:

1. A standard road bike with drop bars and road gearing. Have either a 53-tooth big chain ring (the largest chain ring cog on the front) and a rear gear cluster (cassette) that goes from 12 teeth up to 23 or 25 teeth. Compact gearing is also an option, with the big chain ring having 50 teeth.
2. Cycling shoes with cleats and pedals that accept the shoe cleats. This will allow you to lock in like a ski binding.
3. Standard road cycling shorts and jersey that fit tight and are made with a spandex material. Nothing should be flapping in the wind while you ride.
4. Approved road cycling helmet.
5. Heart rate monitor.
6. Indoor stationary trainer.

Optional equipment:

1. Aero bar extensions: These bolt to your bike's handlebars and allow you to get into a lower, more aerodynamic position.
2. Aerodynamic helmet: Shaped like a teardrop, you've seen these if you've ever watched the Tour de France on TV.

More: Riding the Race of Truth: Training for a Time Trial

They call time trials the race of truth because it's just you, the course and the bike. No wheels to follow, no other riders to help pace you and no pack to hide in. You must be willing to push yourself without the incentive of trying to keep up with other riders. This is harder than most people think.

Here's what you need to know for your first TT event.

Training Preparation

When I first started out racing TT's, I figured it was something I might be good at. I noticed on the indoor trainer that I could put the bike in a larger gear ratio and turn a smooth cadence and hold it for an extended time period. I believe this ability came from years of mountain biking, which requires a smooth pedal stroke and a strong aerobic engine—the basic attributes of a good time trialist.

More: 10 Common Time Trial Mistakes

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