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in need of some TT advice(13 posts)

in need of some TT adviceWise
Aug 14, 2001 10:03 AM
I'm pretty new to competitive cycling and I am riding my first time trial in about a month and a half. I was wondering if some of you old-timers might be able to give me some advice on preparation and some (god forbid) equipment.

The TT in question is just a flat 10 mile out and back course. My goal is to ride it in under 30 minutes, which I think is within my grasp. I'm 6 ft tall and only 145 lbs, which is a nice advantage for climbing, but a slap in the face when it gets windy.

Wind is my main concern, I have plenty of power and can ride at a 22-23 mph pace over a 4 mile pan-flat road near my home in a neutral wind, but in a headwind I really start to hurt and my speed drops by about 5 mph.

Whats the best way to tackle a headwind? I try to keep my cadence between 80 and 90 rpm as much as possible, but it always seems to slow down when I'm fighting the wind, even when I drop gears. I have a 12-23 9 spd that ought to offer me plenty of small-increment options... changing to a 12-21 is not really something I want to do since my first love is hill climbing, and buying new wheels isn't either since I'm a 19 year old college student who has more important things to spend my limited resources on.

I have been thinking about buying some clip on aero bars. I'd like some opinions on them, what general style to look for and comments on particular models. Do they actually work? or just make you look faster?

Also, lemme know if you vets have any secret hints on riding a TT and any sort of technique and training tips you might in possession of...

Thanks alot
TT advicejschrotz
Aug 14, 2001 10:30 AM
First of all, get aero-bars. They're a lot cheaper than a new set of wheels and will make a big difference. I'd suggest getting them soon so that you can spend some time on them and get used to the position that they put you in. The handling will be affected and you'll probably want to slide your saddle forward a little so that you're not sliding off the end of it when you're on the aero-bars. Personally, I recommend the Syntace C2. They're a bit on the spendy side for a pair of clip-ons, but they're light and offer a nice choice of hand positions. I'd also recommend that you learn how to turn the pedals over at a higher rate than 80-90rpm. I usually shoot for 95-105rpm. I find it helps my legs last longer since I don't have the big muscle to grind out a large gear for a long time (I'm 5'9" and 148). Headwinds are tricky to deal with. They can be really demoralizing. Think of a headwind as an invisible hill. Everyone's going to have to climb it. Just don't let it defeat you mentally. Once you're defeated mentally, your body will soon follow suit. Your speed will drop in a headwind, as will your competitor's, there's just no getting around it. On an out and back course, if there's headwind, you'll have a tailwind as well. If the tailwind is in the first half of the race, don't get caught up in trying to take advantage of it so much that you end up not having anything left to fight the headwind on the way back to the finish. In TT'ing you have to meter your effort out wisely. Don't start out in a blazing sprint. You should spend the first 3/4 - 1 mile or so bringing yourself up to your race pace. The last thing you want to do is start out too hard and not be able to recover from it throughout the rest of the ride. This post is getting rather long, so if you want any more info, just shoot me an email.
re: in need of some TT advicedug
Aug 14, 2001 11:15 AM
Headwinds are... well headwinds. You will have no choice. Heart rate monitors help A LOT in TT. However, if you don't get one soon, it won't help much. Picture it as a tachometer. (with a grain of salt) speed is not a big an issue as output. I can ride a flat TT at a heartrate 180 bpm. I purposley don't TT with a bike computer. 'speed' simply dosen't matter. If I hold 180, my time (= speed)takes care of itself. However heartrate monitors have a small learning curve to figure your thesholds and etc. Aerobars DEFINITLY work. Period. Because they alter your position - set them up well ahead of time and get used to them. They ARE NOT for everyday riding - at least within a group of riders - no matter who offers a rebuttal. The only way to train for a TT is to TT. Set up a course & do it. Record your time and repeat several times a week. Warm up well. You want to be at the start with a bead of sweat going.
re: in need of some TT adviceJon Billheimer
Aug 14, 2001 1:28 PM
A couple more things that might help. When you do your warmup include two or three 90 sec. to 2 min. accelerations up to your lactate threshold. In the absence of a heartrate monitor, you can gauge your LT effort by when your legs start to burn and your breathing gets real "raggedy". These efforts will dump a lot of lactic acid into your muscles and bloodstream, giving your body a chance to buffer the acidic pH. Then go to the start line, still sweating, within ten minutes or so of these spinups. This will make the first part of the TT a lot less painful.

When dealing with wind stay down in the aerobars, gear down and hold your spin. The tendency is to sit up and start mashing the pedals, but sitting up presents more frontal area to the wind, slowing you down even more.

Good luck.
TT adviceLazy
Aug 14, 2001 2:16 PM
Like the others have said, aero bars will make the biggest single contribution to your "aeroness" of any piece of equipment you can get. Definitely do as much riding on them before your event as possible. It will take several rides to dial in your position perfectly and then get used to it.

Other things that will help:

Practice on the course you will be racing on as much as possible. For best results try to practice around the same time of day as your start time. This will give you a better idea of what kind of winds to expect.

One other poster mentioned raising your cadence. This is good advice, but don't do it for the first time on race day. Work at it first, and do it as scientifically as possible. You'll need a heart monitor, so if you don't already have one get one. First, you'll have to get a pretty good estimation of your lactate threshold HR. Once you have your LTHR figured out, ride your TT course in a few different gears at a heartrate [the same HR for each different run] that you can maintain for 25-30 minutes (this should be in the neighborhood of 95-105% of your LTHR depending on your level of fitness)and record the time for each one, your HR, the gear you used and your cadence. Try as many different combinations of gearing, HR, and cadence as you have time for to get best results. Then, on race day, use the gear, HR, and cadence that you got the best results with. Make sure you're fresh when you do this. The conditions for each test must be as similar as possible.

If you don't have time for all this, slap some aero bars on and go as hard as you can. 10 miles in 30 minutes is 20 mph average. Remember, you should be ready to fall off your bike approximately 6" past the finish, and you shouldn't be able to sprint for the line either.

Make sure you do a good warm up like one of the others mentioned.

Good luck, make sure to let us know how you did!
Some more bitsKerry Irons
Aug 14, 2001 4:11 PM
Good advice in the posts so far. I would add that there are two obvious aspects to doing time trials. Training and the event itself. There are three key training points: 1) Do 1-2 mile intervals at speeds above what you want to do in the TT, with 1/2 to 1 mile recoveries in between. Depending on your current fitness and desire, do as many as 5 intervals, twice a week with at least a day off (recovery rides) in between. 2) Have a good base of mileage before actually doing a TT (500-1,000 miles). The amount would vary with TT distance and your general fitness and cycling experience, but the longer the planned event, the more base mileage you should have to both perform well and more importantly, avoid injury. 3) Work on your position. Get as low as possible on the bike while still being able to breath well. Hold that position for long periods. If you're going to use aero bars, practice with them. And practice your turnarounds.

For the event itself, there are a whole bunch of little points which, when added together can both improve your time and make the TT a more "enjoyable" ride. Be well fed and well hydrated, with a good carbo intake the day before and the day of the event. If its an evening ride, snack & sip through the afternoon. Some caffeine 30-60 minutes before the ride doesn't hurt. Be well warmed up - the saying is the shorter the TT, the longer you should warm up. A 10 mile ride to warm up for a 10 mile TT is good. Shortly before your start, do a couple of "jumps" up to maximum effort for 1/4-1/2 mile to get your body ready for a fast start. Arrive at the line sweating, but not out of breath, and ready for a rapid acceleration up to TT speed. Try to get to your maximum sustainable effort ASAP (remember, you're already warmed up). If your legs seem like they are the limit to going faster, shift to a lower gear. If your lungs seem like your limit, shift to a higher gear. Get into your best aero position and stay there. For the turnaround, hold your speed as long as possible, jam the brakes and bank the turn faster than you think you can go. Forget this business about sprinting for the finish - you should have nothing left to sprint with. Around here, the finish of a TT is described as "notfarfrompukin" if you get my point.
Thanks GuysWise
Aug 14, 2001 6:47 PM
I went out for a short ride this evening just to experiment and simulate some TT conditions. There is a 2 mile flat stretch of road about 2 miles away from my house where I did 4 out and back laps as hard as I could.

I pulled between 18 and 21 mph into the wind, and between 21 and 24 coming back depending on how I decided to attack it. I tried different positions on the bars and different gears/cadences. Wow, 100 rpm is really fast, at least it felt that way. My top speeds today were reached in lower gears than usual at a higher cadence.. I definitely think increasing my cadence will yield some great results, unfortunately it's easier said than done and I will need to put some work in before I can spin at 100 rpm for an entire 30 minute session.

This 2 mile stretch is probably not the optimal place to train for this, but there is low traffic and it is close to home and really easy to get to. The disadvantages are linked to its short distance.. I have to slow down for a turnaround right when I'm getting into a steady pace, and I'm not riding into or out of the wind for anything longer than a couple miles at a time before I switch directions. I'm currently on the lookout for a better 'course' to train on, but it's harder than I thought finding a 10 mile flat in the Seattle area .

A heart rate monitor sounds like a good idea, except I am clueless about all those heart related acronyms you guys were spouting off. I'm not sure if I want to make the time investment right now familiarizing myself with the HRM (Im making some progress already Iguess) thing, but I'll pick one up this winter and figure it out and start training with it next season.

As for the aero-bars, I'll order a pair in the next couple days. Those Syntace C2's looked pretty nice, nicer than the offerings from Profile anyway. Granted, I'm no expert on aero-bars, but my sentiment is that if I'm going to adorn my handlebars with a pair of big, gawdy, forward-pointing extensions, then by all means I want something big and gawdy. Well, not necessarily gawdy, but anything cheaper than the C2's just looks too small and inobtrusive to really be all that handy. (the Profile Jammer SL, for instance) If I am being an idiot dumping on Profile, please let me know.

A 10 mile warmup up before-hand sounds like a good idea too.. this evening I felt my best on my way home :(

We'll remedy that though

This TT is not until the end of september, but I'll let you know how I do, and I'll keep you posted on any training or prep issues I have in the meantime. Thanks alot, you guys are a great resource.
Thanks Guyspmannion
Aug 15, 2001 10:45 AM
Please keep us updated. Any learning is good learning, right?

Just remember to keep your cool. You'll be surprised how fast the perceived effort/discomfort goes up, and within seconds it can feel like "What the hell was I thinking?".

Just keep your eyes pointed forward, go hard, but calm down and do NOT overly obsess on looking down at gears, HR zones, MPH, etc. Your body will immediately let you know what pace you can maintain, so focus on just maintaining. If using a heart rate monitor, you might want to program the audible high/low alarms so you don't have to watch the display. Concentrate on the continuance of your rythym and not the details of speed (the terrain will change slightly, affecting this anyway.) All of this available data, often distracts you from the real deal. 10 Miles ridden as hard as you can ride.

Good motivation (unfortunately not discussed yet) is catching your "minute man" (guy who started in front of you)...keep your eyes up the road and look for the guy you need to catch...and go get him. Don't look at him as you pass (we're thinking with optimisim here). Look for _his_ minute man ;-) .
You should break 30 minutes easily.jw25
Aug 15, 2001 8:40 AM
My team's practice TT course is a 10 mile out and back with lots of rolly hills, and 1 good climb just before the turnaround. I'm 3 inches shorter and 3 lbs lighter than you, and I've been doing 24:30's regularly.
Anyway, first consideration is aero bars. As so many others have posted, a good aero position will cut the most time off, and it'll help some in headwinds. Without aero bars, I did the practice TT in 25:40 (no time to put them on), so they definitely help.
With 6 weeks, you should have enough time to adjust your position for comfort, and get some practice in with it. I ended up moving my saddle forward about an inch, and up maybe half an inch. It ended up working well for racing, too, so I've left it there, but this really depends on your anatomy.
Can't blame you for ragging on Profile, either. Most of their bars look bizarre, but I got a pair of Split Seconds (the 2001 model) for a great price, and I've been happy with them. I like being able to set the wrist angle, since the one-piece bars weren't quite right, but again, it's all personal.
If you can borrow a set of aero wheels, do, but don't worry too much about not having them. Depending on how deep your pockets are, you might want to pick up some 20mm tires, and inflate them to the limit on race day. Also, a water bottle on the seat tube is more aero than no bottle, so unless you have a hydration pack, that's where to put your cage.
It really is too bad you don't have a HRM, because it really helps. I remember being a 19 year old, though, so try to watch your exertion, and don't go off too hard. You don't want to sprint to the finish, though, but the last 5 miles is a good spot to really kick it in and use your power.
Other than that, just go out and do it. Personally, I love TT's, while every other team member seems to dread them. Have a good time out there.
What TT are you doing?Cartman
Aug 17, 2001 10:11 AM
The only TT's (I think ) in my area are hosted by LBS's, and are rather relaxed. A competitive TT w/ a chance of winning a prize (however trivial) would be a blast! The advice posted so far is correct. Areobars will help considerably. Aslo consider a skinsuit. I've also heard of riders stripping their seat packs and extra water bottles off. Next Tue is the LBS TT that I go to. I'm looking to beat my 12 mile record of 31:16. To do thatwill make me a happy camper. Good luck!
re: in need of some TT adviceWoof the dog
Aug 19, 2001 8:28 PM
Hey, many here already gave you the most important points. However, here are some that I will add as well: if you have rollers or a trainer, why not set up within inches off the start line. Just make sure you have your name written on trainer/rollers so that no one would steal them. This 1/4 or 1/2 a mile out and back before the start never works, I always arrive too early (better than late) and stand around for 10-15 min. With rollers right near the start you'll see when you are about to go. The longer the timetrial, the longer the warm-up. Last time I promised myself to warm up for at least 20 minutes. Notice how long pro's warm up. They just sit and spin while watching lower cat races going on. Another thing, you should work on your position in aerobars. Go to and read under "technical" about all the aerobar set up. I don't know if I am missing something, but I bought Profile Design Split Second Ti and they are the best, although expensive (something like 120 bucks). They allow you to adjust just about adjustable. I hate all these ugly looking one piece round (rhombus?) weirdo geek things from other companies. My current set-up is cow(bull?)horns (Syntace Stratos 40 degree drop) with sti :-O plus my profile bars. I cut off the unnecessary tubing on both ends of each handle (its not that hard to cut titanium actually and my arms are short), replaced riser brackets with non-raseable version. Glued on thinner pads (computer mouse rubber pad works fine, just gotta superglue it), now it looks like a true tt bike. Maybe I will post a pic on here eventually, but then again...maybe not. You should raise a saddle a tiny bit when moving a saddle forward. You should find about that on the site i gave also. I haven't done too many time trials and never used h.r. monitor. I even took a computer off. Hehe. When starting off at the line, you should be in your big ring but put chain into like 23rd cog, even if it means crosschaining. you will start off and accelerate fast and won't be losing valuable time with front shifting (which sometimes is crappy on my bike). Whats funny: I always seem to be able to sprint to the finish. If you feel you are capable, just give it everything you got at the end. Kind of a novice thing to do, but i guess its better to shave off some time instead of saving your face in front of all those cat ones lol. Keep the water bottle, don't make a mistake of not having anything to drink. You must drink something...or you will DIE plus it is more aero. If you want to get rediculously aero, then yes, tape your helmet airvents (or get one of those special designs), don't wear gloves, wear booties (which is okay actually), get a 150 dollar skinsuit, get Campy Shamals (sp?), get a front 650 wheel and make your bike into what they call "a funny bike), get an airdynamic seatpost, wear camelback under the jersey, ....uhm...tape back your ears lol.

Woof the dog.
so.. should i use a razor or try waxing ? (n/t) : )Wise
Aug 20, 2001 9:16 AM
re: in need of some TT adviceSpox
Aug 20, 2001 11:33 PM
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