How to prepare a time trial; tips and training guide
Throughout history we have seen a number of cycling tests in which the time trial it is even more decisive than the high mountain stages.
The time trial, individual or in teams, it is customary to be that forgotten discipline, practically relegated to a marginal role and that in the amateur field very few work.
In professionals, the thing is quite different and it is that the teams are fully aware of the incidence that this test usually has in the three-week laps.
The demands are increasingly higher and in a situation in which all professionals take care of the diet, guide the training and respect the rest, the small details they are the ones who make the difference.
With such physical equality and with the arrival of power meters to the world of cycling, scratching 30 seconds in a mountain pass can cost god and help. However, these 30 seconds can be easily lost in a time trial if certain aspects such as the aerodynamics, the position or the mindset.
The time trial is an art and if you don't ask Miguel Indurain, Lance Armstrong or Chris Froome. 3 runners who greatly conditioned their rivals' tactics at the mercy of their great tenacity in the fight against the clock.
Greg Lemond went on to win the 1989 Tour de France and after more than 3000 kilometers of travel for only 8 seconds of difference with Lauren Fignon. The reason? The individual time trial of a historic last stage in Paris.
Once the importance of the time trial In competition cycling, it is convenient to extrapolate all this to the amateur field.
Fortunately or unfortunately, few events on the calendar include a time trial stage on the course. The lack of evidence and the high price of the material (for a time trial you compete with a bicycle other than the road bike) means that pure time trialists are in danger of extinction.
If among your close objectives is to have to face a time trial, you practice triathlon or you just want to know the secrets that surround such a test pay attention to what comes next
How to prepare a time trial?
Equip yourself with good material
Few cyclists are aware of the importance of the material in this type of test. The lightness is important but even more so is the rigidity and the aerodynamics. I am not saying anything outrageous if I tell you that with a top-of-the-range goat you can calmly scratch 40 seconds or a minute compared to a conventional mid-range or low-range goat.
Beyond the frame, the most important component is surely the wheels and the handlebars. The lenticular wheels They are quoted at a gold price and it is that in certain types of tour their benefits are more than evident.
To the extent that the portfolio allows, try to take care of this aspect and you can already assume that any investment will automatically translate into an improvement over time.
Accessories like helmet, diver or the drums can also help scratch a few hundredths to the time.
Do not forget that the material is important but it is also comfortable and safe. Finding the midpoint between comfort and aerodynamics is one of the specialty's great secrets.
Recognize the circuit
If the test has a certain level, it is essential to recognize the course. Completely forget about going out blind and it is that as a responsible time trial you have to know exactly the line in each curve. Too much brake play can be an irrecoverable waste of time.
Some professional teams work with programs similar to Google Maps to recognize even the ends of the stages online. Roundabouts, crossings, steep slopes or speed bumps are obstacles that should be known.
If you have the time trial in the morning you can take the opportunity to recognize the route in the morning. It will probably be marked and you can even do it with closed traffic.
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More than one specialist has declared the importance of knowing the route and of permanently visualize the end of the climb or the slope. Do not forget that you must go to the limit, but without exceeding it. Crowning at the top is important but it is even more important to save a few grams of energy to launch the bike as soon as you reach the top. Starting the descent fast can make a difference.
If the curves are not too twisty and the favorable terrain allows you to pedal, believe me, with good energy management you can make a difference. There is no use reaching the slope with an advantage if you later lose it on the descent. The time trial is used by the strongest rider but also the most linear in effort.
In such short tests concentration is a crucial factor. It is important that you are for what you have to be and that at all times you have all 5 senses on the road and in the effort.
Beyond concentrating on maintaining the effort or move expected wattsYou must constantly think about maintaining the posture, exercising a round pedal and tracing the curves as well as possible. A time trial is not that of "going out for a ride with a pair of arreones". As a personal recommendation, I would tell you that in some training you would simulate the entire protocol of a time trial.
Regulate your energies
The other great virtue of time trialists is that they know each other perfectly. This implies that they know their energy level exactly and that they are able to administer it during the test.
Setting the best intermediate time will be of little use if the last 3 kilometers are uphill and you drop a minute. The experience and the years will help you to improve in this aspect, although I already tell you that you arreones and unnecessary watt spikes end up getting expensive.
Draw a straight line
What may seem silly is not and is that without realizing it by bicycle you are constantly giving away meters.
In a competition time trial (with closed traffic) you can trace all the curves inside, but it is also important that on the straights draw a line as straight as possible. The shoulder or center line of the road can serve as a reference.
Remember that the small details make the difference and simply with this you can scratch a few seconds at the end time.
If you look at the records of the cycle computers I am convinced that each one of you will give a different distance traveled. To get an idea, just make numbers and realize that 100 meters less than 60 per hour will earn you 6 seconds regarding your rivals.
Avoid the big "arreones"
Try to avoid extreme efforts and extraordinary arreones. Watt spikes are always charged and can make it difficult to muscle oxygenation.
Keep a constant rhythm on the slopes as much as possible, and save your gear for the exit of the curves.
Trace the curves serenely
Mentalize yourself that curves will be the only time you will have to get air. View the trace in advance and interprets the appropriate speed to avoid taking unnecessary risks.
At 30 or 40 meters from the curve you do not need to pick up more speed and that will be the perfect time to relax your legs for a few seconds. It is always better to go a little slower and get out quicker than to go in with the "knife" and have to brake hard.
A time trial is going to demand the maximum from the first meter. You have to go out with a good muscle tone. For this a good warm-up is essential.
Forget going out to see them coming and getting sensations with the passing of the kilometers.
You don't need to heat 2 hours, 30 minutes on the roller with some progressive changes of pace can be a wonderful warm-up.
Eat in advance
Another important issue is going out with a full tank of fuel, but with the digestion done. The digestive system should be as relaxed as possible to focus all the effort on the legs.
You better do a good load at least 3 hours before the time trial. A few minutes before you can take the opportunity to eat half a banana or a combination of caffeine.
Maintain a good cadence
The super man developments are fine but as long as the ride and your strength allow you to move them. Try to always maintain a good cadence (around 90 or 95 pedals per minute). With high values you will delay the onset of muscle fatigue.
Having intermediate references always comes in handy. Knowing the time of your rivals will also help you get an idea of your possible result.
Show a positive attitude
The rider's mind in a time trial is even more important than in a road race. The effort is agonizing and your brain must constantly give you positive stimuli.
The mindset is also trained, but you must compel you to generate positive stimuli. Instead of thinking "I have 5 kilometers left and I'm going", think "I've been 20 minutes and I have the last effort"
Check the material
Having the best material is important but it is also important to review it before the competition. Check that everything is correct and that above all it complies with current regulations. The federation has its own regulations on regulatory measures for a time trial goat.
Maintain a constant speed
You must permanently have the feeling that the bicycle moves forward. Avoid getting stuck in a ravine because 300 meters before you have burst.
Try to hold the position
Aerodynamics is extremely important and this will be largely determined by the bike, the components but also by your position. For this reason you should try to maintain the position on the couplings as long as possible. Constantly standing up or making the bike dance can result in a significant waste of seconds.
I did not want to say goodbye without leaving some significant videos that will bring you a little closer to the high demand of the specialty.