TIME TRIALING

By Nenad Rodic,
posted 04/05


Perhaps, the most important aspect of time trialing is aerodynamics. Just like climbing is a simple function of power to weight ratio, time trialing is a function or frontal surface to power ratio. It is obvious that this discipline will favor bigger more powerful rider, especially in heavy conditions (wind). However, fitness is still the number one factor. Some of the greatest time trial riders in history were not very big Chris Boardman and Greg Le Mond competed at 145 lbs. Lance Armstrong competes at 157 and “big German” Jan Ullrich is actually only 162 lbs (not so big after all).
Fitness however will get you only so far in time trialing. It is a real art. Ability to use the muscles to their maximum while maintaining an aerodynamic position is indeed very rare.
Few pointers about TT bikes:

1) TT bike does not need to be comfortable all the time. It needs to be comfortable in aero position only
2) TT bike does not need to be light
3) TT bike needs to be stiff
4) TT bike must not be big

1 Comfortably resting on TT bars; weight on the elbow pads and not on my back. Back nice and flat. Seat moved forward to put me over the pedals for more power. Seat height allows the whole pedal stroke (slight knee bend at the bottom of the stroke). Knees are above elbows on the top of the pedal stroke and everything within the confines of the shoulders and torso.

If you are fit properly onto a TT machine you will feel relaxed in aero position and will be able to put out a lot of power. Higher cadence 90+ rpm should come naturally with the TT position.

How to time trial? It is like any other distance event. Take it out strong but with lot of reserve. Keep the cadence optimal (90 + rpm). Once you overgear power will just vanish from your legs. Do not panic and trust your HRM or power meter; speed is irrelevant. If you feel that you can go faster half way through the time trial, pick it up. Do not move around on the bike. Keep the streamlined position. Make sure you are pedaling the whole circle (full pedal stroke). Always wear very tight clothes while time trialing. Time trialing is a skill hardest to master in cycling. It demands a lot of specialized training, mental preparation and toughness, intelligence and determination. If you are trying to become really good at it I would definitely advise getting professional help form a coach. Being fit and riding tons of miles is not enough.

By Nenad Rodic, founder of Triathlonplace.com