Last week, we had our monthly ALP Ride. The goal of this month's ride was to not only pre ride the Haystack Time Trial Course near Boulder, Colorado- but to dial in our time trailing strategy so no matter what the course, our ALP athletes would know how to look at the course and come up with their own individual race plans.
Current National Time Trial Champion (for one more day), and ALP Coach Alison Powers lead the ride and talked about the key elements of Time Trialling. These elements included-
1- How to look at a course and break it into sections- then create a plan for each section
2- How to carry your speed and momentum- especially over varied terrain and corners
3- How to create speed and momentum- especially over varied terrain and corners
4- Being aerodynamic while limiting movement and staying relaxed.
We analyzed the course, came up with a race plan, and tackled each section with 100% effort. We brought out the GoPro so our ALP athletes could see how they look on their bikes while going hard. Post ride, we analyzed things such as- does the athlete stay aero dynamic, where is their head position, and how much movement do they have when riding?
Time trials are the purest of all bike races. It's you against the clock; where your legs do the talking. It sounds simple in theory - the fastest person wins. But it's far from the easiest discipline. Time trials are a true test of not only physical but mental fitness. Below you'll find some tips that will help you in your next time trial.
1. Dial in your equipment.
Preferably, several weeks before your race. Showing up to a time trial with a bike for the first time without any saddle time can spell disaster. If you can, get a professional bike fitter to assist you in dialing in your position. The shorter the TT, the more aerodynamic you'll want to be. Equipment also includes race wheels and a rear disc, aero helmets, booties, skin suits, etc. If you have long hair, put it in a bun and tuck it inside of your helmet or braid it. If your time trial is under an hour, take off your water bottle cage.
2. Practice, practice, practice.
Once you've dialed in your equipment and position, you must practice being in the aerodynamic position. It will take your body a little while to adapt to this position, and riding your time trial bike in the aero position is the best way to do this.
You can't win a time trial by cornering, but you can lose it in the corners by dumping your bike, over-braking or going off course. Practice corners and 180 degree turnarounds. It's okay to come out of the aero bars to navigate a corner. Just get back up to speed and into your bars as quickly as possible.
4. Limit your movement.
Meaning, don't look down at your computer, back behind you, in front of you and repeat. Keep your eyes forward, neck turtled, and arms in the aero bars. Additional movement creates drag and extra drag slows you down. Your legs should be moving and that's it.
5. Pre-ride the course.
If you can pre-ride the course a week or more before, do it. Practice key sections and time yourself so you know how hard you need to push it during each part. Memorize sections so you know how much further you have until the finish. Visualize the course before you go to bed each night, practicing key sections in your head.
6. Time trial is about what happens between the ears.
Positive self talk is critical to your success. Coming up with a mantra in practice will help you during a race. Alison came up with a great one, printed on the collar of every ALP Cycles Coaching jersey: Better. Stronger. Faster.