12 Jan 2016


With the right technique, training and gear, you can storm the time trial in 2016. Time trials of 10 and 25 miles are one of the most exhilarating and accessible forms of road cycling. But there are five key areas that’ll make you enjoy the sport even more – as well as going a whole lot faster…

You, the rider, makes up over 80% of the frontal area. The faster you ride, the greater the air resistance, reaching a figure up to 90% of total drag. By reducing the width and height of the object – you – carving through the air, you’ll save free time; in other words, race faster for no more effort. A pair of affordable clip-on aerobars will lower your profile as well as bringing your hands and shoulders in. Just make sure you don’t go too low or the position won’t be sustainable. If aerobars really aren’t for you, try to ride on the drops rather than the hoods, again for aerodynamic efficiency.

Getting yourself in an aerodynamic position is one of the most fundamental skills for succesful TT riding

That said, easing into an aerodynamic position can be an unnerving experience if you’re just setting out on your first adventures in time-trialing. That’s why, when riding, it’s worth moving from the aerodynamic position to a more upright position one arm at a time. It just gives you more stability – and so more confidence – in case you’re struck by a gust of wind or you happen to hit a pothole. You can also practice your new aerodynamic position on a turbo trainer beforehand, so you’re not distracted either by concentrating on remaining balanced or looking out for traffic.

Pacing is key to achieving your time-trial peak. Turning up for registration, rubbing shoulders with other riders… many factors raise your testosterone levels on race day, and when channeled properly that can give you an extra boost of energy. But many riders, especially if they’re new to time trial, become over-excited and go off to hard. Lactic acid rises sharply, muscle activation is reduced and you’re soon going backwards. So aim to start conservatively and accelerate as you go on. Negative-splitting is one tried-and-trusted technique. This is where you race faster over the second half of the time trial than the first.

Your body can store up to around 500g of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen. This equates to around 2,000 calories. As 10- and 25-mile time trials will be at an intensity – high – that will predominantly rely on energy from glycogen rather than fat stores, ensure you consume plenty of slow-releasing carbohydrates for at least a couple of days before any time-trial event. Pasta should be a staple of your carb diet, with jam on toast a favorite of many riders on the morning of a race. An espresso or two 30 minutes before your race will also give you a legal caffeinated hit.

The pursuit of marginal gains – there’s always a way to improve, and aerodynamic components always pays off, such as the slippery Metron mech

Sir Dave Brailsford and his former employees at British Cycling were credited with the phrase ‘marginal gains’. This is making small tweaks that stack up to a significant improvement. Examples of ‘free time’ include: keeping a bottle in your cage as it’s more aerodynamic without it; wearing close-fitting apparel – you can buy a skinsuit or simply go for a figure-hugging cycle jersey and bib shorts; deep-section-rimmed wheels (see our buyer’s guide article here) and other aerodynamic products such as the Metron TT crankset and Metron Rear Derailleur; and shaving your legs.

If you’re getting into time trials for the first time, or looking to improve, good luck in 2016. Let us know how you get on – share it with us on social media using the links below.