Time trials are known as “the race of truth”, as they are an individual test of a rider’s ability against the clock. This is why they’re worth getting into… they’re a pure test of yourself, without worrying about anyone else; and it’s addictive wanting to continually better your times.
Getting into time trialling is pretty simple, once you get past the course codes and how / what to enter…
A great way to get used to a regular effort is to join the Weaver Valley club 10s. They take place most Wednesdays from April to August (whilst the nights are lighter), with the first rider off at 7:01pm. The dates are always in the calendar on the club website. We meet up at Shakerley Mere car park for 6:30pm and you enter on the night with a small levy (£4 ish). You just need to bring you, your helmet and your bike with a rear light on it. You don’t need a time trial bike or any other posh equipment.
We use a course called the JC19. It starts at Bowers Threeways Garage (a small petrol station in Lach Dennis), heads 2.6 miles out to take a left at the end of the road, then through Allostock on a 4.2mile stretch before taking another left onto the B5081 to ride the final 3.2miles to the finish near Ashbrook Equine hospital.
Results are shared in Shakerley Mere car park afterward and also on Facebook. Results then also count toward two club trophies…
Guardian Cup – there are 10 counting weeks of the Guardian Cup, with points awarded to the most improved rider (based on your previous best club 10 time, your handicap). Points are scored on the basis of 25 for 1st handicap, reducing to 1 point for 25th place. A rider’s best 5 rides count and points are totalled to give the final score.
Scratch Trophy – in the same counting weeks as the Guardian cup, the fastest rider is awarded maximum 25 points, down to 1 point for the 25th placed person.
Club championships – the club’s male and female 10 mile time trial champions are crowned on a Wednesday night which will be marked in the club calendar on the website. The club’s 25, 50 & 100 mile championships will also be marked and take place in open events…
Open time trials and hill climbs are run by Cycling Time Trials (CTT). https://cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/. Weaver Valley are affiliated to CTT so you don’t need to pay to register with them, just write your club when you create an account.
You also don’t need a TT bike to race an open time trial. In fact some TTs do have road bike categories. You can add some clip-on TT bars to your road bike if you wish as they will make you more aerodynamic and are a cheap upgrade.
On the CTT website head to Events > Open events to see the list of potential time trials which can be entered nationally. To narrow the events down, use the filters on the left. One of the filters is the district one, and it’s important to understand the districts and the course codes…
Districts and course codes
Time trials came about as a form of bike racing when racing was banned. The course codes were a coded way for racers to go and compete without being found out…and they’ve stuck! The first part of a course code is the district letter…
- J = Manchester, our local district
- L = North, events from Lancashire to the Lake District
- D = Liverpool, from Liverpool down to North Wales including Wrexham
The second part of the code is the course within the district. These are a bit more random. Some well-known courses are…
- J2/9 – 25 miles – starts in Bomish Lane, Macclesfield and circulates 1.5 laps of the roads from Seven Sisters Lane to Twemlow Lane (the A535 and the A50). The J4/16 is a 50 mile TT which uses the same roads for more laps, but starts on Twemlow Lane.
- J2/3 – 10 miles – starts on Twemlow Lane, heading East onto the A535, encircling Chelford Island roundabout 5.5 miles in, before the return leg on the same road back to Twemlow
You can select an event to view its course map and elevation profile.
You must enter an event a good week and a half before its date. The closing of entry for a Saturday race will be Tuesday of the week before i.e. 11 days earlier, so get in the habit of entering events 2 weeks beforehand. The entry closing date will be displayed in the event details.
Be sure to enter the right event too, by reading the event description carefully. For example here… the 25TT had 3 categories, men’s, women’s and tandems. There can also be TTTs (team time trials), novices and other categories – so choose wisely.
If you are accepted into an event, you will receive an email of acceptance. The organiser will then publish the start sheet with your rider number and start time on (usually you get another email a few days later to let you know it’s online). If the event starts at 14:00 and you are rider number 23, you will be set off from the start at 14:23. If the event starts at the same time and you are number 64, you’ll go at 15:04.
The start sheet will also have the details of the HQ on where you will go to sign on. The HQ isn’t always that near to the start, so do your homework on how to get from one to the other and how long it’ll take to ride over! You must also read the rest of the start sheet as it will contain specific rules to keep you safe at the event (and stop you being disqualified by accident)…
- Junctions you must take particular care at
- Rules around not crossing the start line before your actual start
- Rules for the HQ
- Lights / helmets being compulsory (they are!)
On the day
Make a habit of getting to events early. Usually 1hr 15 – 1hr 30 before your start time, it gives you time to collect your race number(s), get your kit together, warm up and get to the start with a few minutes to spare.
Once you’ve finished your effort, get back to the HQ and hand in your number and sign it back out. There might be results being fed into a HQ results board, and there might be some tea and cake so you can have a chat about how you found the course and whinge about the wind direction for a bit.
- 10 miles: all out effort. You don’t need food or drink during so don’t carry any. Make sure the last 3 miles feel truly awful.
- 25 miles: pretty hard effort. You might need a mouthful of drink on a hot day but you can do it without eating or drinking, just hydrate and have a gel 30mins before then another on the start line. Pace at 5% off your 10TT effort, make sure in the last 10 miles you really empty it out.
- 50 miles: nice long 2 hours of hurt. Fuel beforehand and during, a 500ml bottle should do it but it depends on your needs. 2-3 gels too. Ride at 5% below your 25TT pace, see how you feel half way in and judge from there whether you should turn it up a bit.
- 100 miles: 500ml of fluid per hour and 70-80g of carbs too! It’s just as much about fuelling and hydrating your effort as anything else. Knock a bit more off your 50 effort, it’s a long ride!