The time trial is considered the ‘race of truth’ as there is nowhere to hide, it’s just you and your smart bike trainer against the clock. It’s a pure test of your ability to ride a bike, fast.
British time trial legend Matt Bottrill was a former master of the discipline, having held a record-breaking career as the National 100 mile, 50 mile, 10 Mile and Circuit Time Trial Champion, among other titles.
Having turned to triathlon for a fresh challenge, he’s already leaving other more experienced triathletes in his trail.
When it comes to facing one of the most brutally honest cycling disciplines, what does Matt suggest for getting it right?
Here’s some frank and honest tips from the man himself in this video:
To help you nail your fastest TT time yet, we’ve added to some of Matt’s go-faster tips.
Try getting a bike fit
To deliver optimum power, you will need to work out the correct position on your time trial bike. As a guide, your back and arms should be at 90-degree angles.
Bare in mind, though, everyone is different. We all have varying degrees of flexibility, strength and body composition, so an optimum position for one time triallist may have degrees of variation for the next. If you are serious about improving your performance, a professional bike fit will help you find the perfect position and prevent injuries.
Train in your time trial position
Train in your time trial position as much as possible in the weeks leading up to your race. Use this position to build strength, improve cadence and spinning, sustain your peak and pace, and practice attacking. Completing threshold power or heart rate sessions in your time trial position will help fire up the correct muscles, ensuring you’re ready for action on race day.
You should always be 200 yards ahead of yourself during a time trial. Think about how you will take the next corner. How are you going to brake? How will you accelerate and is your gear selection right? Thinking about this before you hit challenging areas in the course will ensure you don’t lose time due to poor gear choice.
Develop strength and flexibility on and off the bike
Time trialling requires a more extreme position than road racing. Core strength will help to stabilise your position and the best way to improve this is practice riding in your time trial position. But there are other activities like pilates, yoga or off-bike exercises you can add to your routine which can help to improve your flexibility so the position doesn’t come as a shock to your body on race day.
Boost your mental strength with good preparation
Time trials are tough. They push your body to its limits and beyond, so you need to develop mental strength to cope with the challenges you will face during the hardest 10 or 25 miles of your riding career. You also need to be able to stay calm and respond to the elements. Be strategic about your equipment choices - if it’s windy, go with shallower wheels.
Going out too aggressively could mean game over very quickly. Help yourself to stay calm and in control; recce the course and the weather conditions; note where there may be headwinds or tailwinds, a junction or a turn in the course and how you’re going to respond to these.
You don’t need to re-mortgage your house to fund your TT rig!
You don’t need to rush out and buy a full TT bike, deep section wheels or skinsuits to go faster. Clip-on tri-bars and an aero helmet are a great investment towards achieving a more aerodynamic position that is lower and narrower. Added to that you could consider flipping your stem to optimise the angle, taking out spacers or opting for a shorter headtube which will all help you get into a lower position, putting you in a more optimal position in the wind. Plus, the day you and your clip-on tri-bars beat your rivals on a comparatively more professional full carbon TT-rig with deep section wheels, can be a great win!