Time trials—they can either be the most loved part of a cyclist's journey in the world of cycling, or the most dreaded. The making or breaking factor of time trials is the way a cyclist handles it, be it training for one or performing during one. Here are a few tips that could help you become the kind of cyclist that takes a time trial head on, effortlessly.
One aspect that affect's time and performance, during a time trial, is wind. Even the fanciest kit will not be helpful if one's body constantly acts as a giant air brake.
About 90% of one's energy goes into overcoming wind resistance and this may not produce efficiency in speed or timing. The ideal riding position for a time trial is to bring your arms in as close as possible, round-off your shoulders and drop your body. This creates a smaller silhouette, enabling you to cut wind resistance most efficiently.
However, dropping your body too low will require that you constantly stick your head up to see where you are going. Making your silhouette bigger and acting as an air brake. The key is to drop your body as low as possible, while making sure that you can see your path clearly.
STRETCH THOSE MUSCLES REGULARLY
The average time trial riding position is more aggressive and extreme than most riders are used to, or even comfortable with. Given that one's body is quite stretched out —head down, backside in the air, and elbows close together, doesn't seem quite comfortable. Stretching your hamstrings, glutes and back muscles regularly can help with improving flexibility and get you more comfortable while riding a time trial. Train regularly on your time trial bicycle, so that you don't feel rusty and uncomfortable on the day of the event.
FITNESS SPECIFIC TO TIME TRIALS
A major part of being able to ride a time trial most effectively is training specifically for a time trial. The most skilled time trial riders train hard weeks or even months leading up to the event.
An ideal training schedule should comprise of:
- Endurance-building training – to improve your body's handling of lactic acid.
- Strength training – at a gym and tackling hill climbs.
- Interval training with sprints and cooling down at regular intervals.
- Spinning (on a trainer, if possible or a spinning bicycle) to improve cadence.
There cannot be a more important time to focus on what you eat as the night before, and the day of, the time trial. It is important to eat carbohydrates before a time trial. But in right quantities. 200 grams of carbohydrates, such as rice or pasta, should be sufficient. Avoid eating foods high in fats the night before or the day of the ride.
The morning of the time trial, a 200g carbohydrate rich meal is recommended. A light breakfast of toast and jam, idly’s or a low-fat cereal is ideal.
Keep a recovery drink ready to replenish lost electrolytes and water once the ride is done.
It is important to train regularly on your time trial bicycle, to gain confidence on it. Riding with your elbows tucked in and your hands away from the brakes can be intimidating. Regular riding builds confidence in getting out of your 'aero tuck' and back into it as and when required.
On the day of the event, it is essential to warm up before you hit the start line. Failing to do so will let all those hours spent training hard go to waste. An effective warm up is to ride easy for 15 minutes, then performing 3×10 seconds sprints with 2 minutes of recovery between each sprint. However, don't put maximum effort during the sprint, just a tiny boost in your speed should do the trick. You don't want to exhaust yourself even before you've hit the start line. Your warm up should be at least 15 to 20 minutes long.
It is true, training for a time trial involves hard work, determination, patience and discipline. However, don't let the idea of training for a time trial, or even participating in a time trial ride, intimidate you from attempting one. The time and effort you put into training for a time trial will not only pay off on the day of the event, but also in your overall cycling skills.