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Old 05-23-08, 08:15 AM   #1
DrWJODonnell
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Before you start another TT thread, click here.

Welcome to the world of “The Race of Truth.” Before you go and ask a bunch of questions that have been asked 1000 times on these forums, please read below, and/or use the “search” function located at the top of the loaded page. However, most questions should be answered here.

What you NEED.
Bike
Helmet
Racing license (or purchase a one day)
Jersey and shorts or skinsuit (no sleeveless and no “professional” jerseys)
Desire to suffer
No delusions of grandeur

What will help (yes, even in your first TT)
Trainer
Any of the equipment listed below


Before the race

1. Yes, Aerobars will make you faster. No, you shouldn’t put them on the night before the race. Aerobar users often find that the bike is a bit more difficult to control, and the position takes some adaptation, so you should get used to this before you crash/throw your back into spasm.

2. Equipment that will make you Faster? In order: Aerobars (cheap), Aero Helmet (cheap), Power meter (not cheap), Heart rate monitor (cheap), Wind Tunnel (not cheap), deep dish/disc wheels (not cheap), TT bike/frame (not cheap), Disc wheel cover (cheap, but not legal for long), skinsuit (cheap), Ceramics (not cheap), Blah blah blah (none of the rest is cheap)

3. All of the above will not make you as fast as a good aero position (assuming you have aerobars…yes, they are that important), so look at some pictures of Professional TTists (the ones who win). They know what they are doing.

4. Yes, you should get a TT fit by a professional fitter. Chances are, the professional positions you see in the pictures are not going to be compatible with your body. Find out what is.

5. When you go to buy a TT frame (and you will get aero-upgrade-it is if you do enough TTing), expect to pick something up that is roughly 2cm shorter in the top tube than your road bike.

6. If you have to ask, then UCI rules do not apply to you (though in the US, USAC rules do apply. Pretty much any road/tt bike satisfies these rules).

7. If you can manage 260-280 watts for an hour, you are in the realm of a sub-hour 40k.

8. To improve, you need to better your threshold. There are lot’s of methods to do this, but most involve long intervals.

9. Many people find it helpful to preride/predrive the course.

At the race

10. Yes, you will see tens of thousands of dollars worth of TT equipment – sometimes just one person’s bike setup. Believe it or not, though it looks cool, it doesn’t make you as fast as it looks. However, to be competitive at the topmost levels, likely some investment will have to be made.

11. Yes, you should have a stationary trainer for warming up. As for the warm up routine, that is something you will have to discover either in training or through race experience, but the general (though certainly not absolute) rule of thumb is that long TTs require a shorter warm up (20-40 minutes), and shorter TTs require a longer warm up (30-80 minutes). Warm ups do not require race level efforts (though many do some race effort intervals). If you feel that you cannot warm up for the above length of time and still race, you don’t yet have the fitness. Sorry. Go train some more.

12. Stay hydrated. Unless it is a long (greater than 20k) or VERY hot TT, you do not need water during the race and with the exception of an old study showing that a water bottle is more aerodynamic (on a round tubed seat-tube), bottles and drinking are likely to slow you down (Unless you are dehydrated, in which case you need all the help you can get).

13. Get to the line early. Most people who have done this enough have missed/nearly missed their start times. Try to avoid that mistake.

14. You will be provided a hold at the start line (if it is USCF. Local and practice tts may vary) so that you can clip in. Please do not over-gear your start, or you will fall over. Cross chaining is allowed.

15. Do not start too hard.

16. DON’T START TOO HARD.

17. See numbers 15 and 16.

18. Yes, you will suffer. Yes, you need to leave everything on the road. If you can sprint in the end, you did not go hard enough.

19. Race against yourself. Don’t blow up trying to catch anyone or stay with someone who has just passed you. Your goal should be to be able to ask yourself the question at the end, “Could I have gone faster?” and have the answer be, “No.”

20. Overall, have fun. You should try to get better with each successive TT.

For returning sufferers:

Wind tunnel is not cheap (roughly 1k plus airfare) but will make you faster than most anything out there. If you have to choose between bling wheels and wind tunnel, the tunnel will provide you more benefit every time.

Negative Splitting is almost always the best policy (with the exception of significant climbs/wind which should bias your power output toward these slower portions of the race). Negative splitting is the art of increasing power over time such that each subsequent distance should take less time (due to increased power output). Divide into halves, thirds, or quarters. Start reserved, end strong.

Cadence selection should be done according to what you feel. However, be aware that most people will have lower HR with lower cadences, but will feel fatigued more quickly. There is a reason that almost every hour record that has been set in the recent past has shown the rider to have a cadence of right around 100.

Never sacrifice your power meter because it is heavy. Never sacrifice your power meter because you have a more aero wheel. No, Eddy did not need a power meter, but if you have one, why throw away the advantage?

Finally, the little things really do matter. Exposed cables can cost upwards of 10 watts on the road. Poor rolling resistance tires or improper (often too high) tire pressure can cause you on the same order of wattage. This is a LOT. On average, clincher tires have better rolling resistance figures, though tubulars are lighter and can be ridden with a flat. Gloves, short-sleeved skin suits (compared to long sleeved), and certain sunglasses slow you down. Cooling vests have been shown to be of benefit if you want to take things to the extreme.

For Hill Climb TTs

Negative splitting is VERY important here. Also realize that yes, your power output will likely be higher than you can achieve in a flat TT, perhaps on the order of 20 watts or so. Take this into consideration.

Weight is important in a hill climb...usually starting at around 4% or so. Thus, if you have a choice between lightweight and aero, choose lightweight.

Now, if you still have questions, start a “first TT need help” or whatever thread. But chances are, you no longer need to do that.

Last edited by DrWJODonnell; 05-23-08 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:23 AM   #2
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Excellent advice. Thanks for putting it all together in one post.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:26 AM   #3
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#2 Shoe covers are cheap. Fancy shoes with large buckles are slower than velcro shoes.
#6 - USAC Master's nationals are using UCI rules in regard of bike measurement.
#15, 16 & 17 - holding back a bit for the first 5 minutes will do you wonders.
#20 - it's only fun when it's over and when you've stopped coughing.
Long sleeve vs short sleeve - the only person who I've ever heard against them is old school Mike Burroughs. He doesn't like wrinkles in the fabric.

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Old 05-23-08, 08:26 AM   #4
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Very nice. Sticky time.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:26 AM   #5
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Great job, WJO.

Might I add:

Don't start too hard.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:29 AM   #6
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Thank You.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:29 AM   #7
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DrW.. Mucho Thanks. Could you address HR and maybe post a graph of a flat TT with your HR profile? What I am curious about is whats your max hr, LT and how does do you modulate it over your the entire race.

I find it pretty tough to pace myself and now blow up HR wise. Probably my biggest Achilles heel apart from lower power levels.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:46 AM   #8
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Meh, the one thing I'm good at here, so I'll chime in/reinforce.

1) Don't ask people online to fit you. Get a good fit locally. Correct pedaling mechanics are often going to make you faster than having your position look like Dave Zabriskie's. If you think you can fit yourself, you're probably wrong and probably leaving some power on the table. Get fit by someone who knows what they're doing!

2) Always, always, always ride the power meter/HRM. Like DWJ said, both the data and the pacing information are invaluable.

3) Disc covers should still be legal for non-NRC/national races, so that's the cheapest way to go aero. If you want to blow a lot of $$$ on TTing, here's your shopping list, in order.

-Aerobars ~$75
-Skinsuit ~$75
-Aero Helmet ~$125-$150
-TT Frame - some of the older Aluminum Cervelo's can be had pretty cheap (~$400), and they're great!
-Aero wheels - They help less than you think, but they're still worth it if you have the money to blow. You can go anywhere from a Renn Disc ($500) and a cheap front all the way up to the $3000 Zipps. The $3000 Zipps aren't much faster (and possibly slower, depending on how much you buy into the Tubies are slower than Clinchers debate).
-Everything else - ceramics, etc. Probably not worth it unless you have a very high $/gain threshold.

4) Like everyone's said, don't go out too hard. This is where a power meter can really come in handy.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:48 AM   #9
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Dr W.. Concerning the latter part of point 3.

..look at some pictures of Professional TTists (the ones who win).

Please insert a larger version of the photo in your avatar for reference. Thank you.
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Old 05-23-08, 08:49 AM   #10
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Don't. While that's a great aero position, you're almost certainly going to mess it up trying to put yourself in it on your own. Spend the $$$, get a fit, they'll do a good job. If you really have the $$$, do the wind tunnel thing.
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Old 05-23-08, 09:18 AM   #11
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you guys forgot two of the most important things:

1 - never shower the day of a TT, it'll fill your legs up with water and make them slow
2 - never shave the day of a TT, growing hair back will zap you of valuable needed energy


otherwise, thanks for a great post.
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Old 05-23-08, 09:20 AM   #12
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Thanks DW. I will read all of this soon. I'm planning my first real TT this year.




I wish I had enough relevant info to start a sticky thread. Maybe I can start one in Foo on Multiple Personalities.
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Old 05-23-08, 09:23 AM   #13
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Some advice on when/if to drink and water bottles might help.
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Old 05-23-08, 09:37 AM   #14
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TT's and most importantly drinking during them is a very personal thing. I drink a bottle while warming up and heading to the line but don't drink anything during a 40k. Lots of time is lost by reaching down and also the drag of the bottle its self.

As for the "look at the pros and do what they do" that is a load. Pros are working within UCI constraints and we mortals are not. RacerEx and DRWJO both run positions that would not be legal for a pro but are much more aero than a uci position. Work within your own morphological restrictions and get YOUR best fit not copy a pro.
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Old 05-23-08, 09:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skinnyone View Post
DrW.. Mucho Thanks. Could you address HR and maybe post a graph of a flat TT with your HR profile? What I am curious about is whats your max hr, LT and how does do you modulate it over your the entire race.

I find it pretty tough to pace myself and now blow up HR wise. Probably my biggest Achilles heel apart from lower power levels.
Here are a few graphs with HR and the relation to a negatively split power profile. Lines at LTHR, and target wattage.






Also, realize that I was trying to shoot for the (relatively) entry level TT person. There are a million more things that could be added (Which shoe covers work/don't, What UCI rules to follow and when, the benefits of aero bottles, etc) but I elected to forego those things in the original post as I think that might be beyond the scope of a racer in his/her first 10 TTs. I guess maybe an "advanced" posting is warranted as well.

Last edited by DrWJODonnell; 05-23-08 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:27 AM   #16
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Some of my own additions:

1. Don't draft when overtaking a rider who started before you, it's against the rules.
2. If you don't have aerobars, stay in the drops. Knees and elbows both tucked in, chin on the stem. Keep your head down and look at the road by shifting your eyes upwards (``looking past your brow''). Don't look straight down; your helmet isn't very aerodynamic when the flat part is aimed directly at the oncoming wind.
3. Know your lactate threshold and use that information (the feel, heart rate, etc) to help build your splits.

It'd also be nice to see some more additions on how to shave seconds from those who are already well experienced in the fine art of time trialing. Perhaps some suggestions on training that focuses on threshold work or more ways to upgrade a rig to make it more aerodynamic, citing specific examples.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:32 AM   #17
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Quote:
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1. Don't draft.
Fixed that for you.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:33 AM   #18
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suggestions on training
My suggestions are no fun: twenty minute intervals at threshold in the bars.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:43 AM   #19
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Psh... Here's some real negative split action.

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Old 05-23-08, 10:44 AM   #20
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PS... You don't need 260W to break an hour in a 40k. I've done it on 240W.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:46 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrennie View Post
TT's and most importantly drinking during them is a very personal thing. I drink a bottle while warming up and heading to the line but don't drink anything during a 40k. Lots of time is lost by reaching down and also the drag of the bottle its self.
Bottle drag is definitely there, a Botrager aero bottle will set you back a couple of watts at 0 degrees yaw (the wind straight on) on a P3. That goes up in a crosswind. More if it's round. Supposedly MIT found some frames were faster with a bottle but I didn't see that in my case.

For me I can't make a 40km without drinking. If you're going to drink practice on the bike, if you're using a Bontrager or other aero bottle buy some stair grip tape and put it on the bottle. If you're sweaty they are slick and easily dropped.

A good TT position will require adaptation. If you're serious and really want to improve, be on the TT bike twice a week at minimum.
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Old 05-23-08, 10:56 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDcatV View Post
you guys forgot two of the most important things:

1 - never shower the day of a TT, it'll fill your legs up with water and make them slow
2 - never shave the day of a TT, growing hair back will zap you of valuable needed energy


otherwise, thanks for a great post.
Huh? Were you supposed to insert one of these: ?
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Old 05-23-08, 11:24 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrWJODonnell View Post
What will help (yes, even in your first TT)
Trainer
Any of the equipment listed below
Can't argue that it won't help, but I will add that a guy I was racing with last month won the Masters Cat TT, and had the 2nd best time out of all (including the pro/1, 2, 3 field) in a 4 mile TT, and he didn't bring a trainer with him.
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Old 05-23-08, 12:08 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElJamoquio View Post
My suggestions are no fun: twenty minute intervals at threshold in the bars.
20s above threshold while in the bars, are more fun

I've seen good results doing a ~20 minute effort at 90% of FTP to get the blood flowing and then another maximal effort at 100-107% during which I'm seeing stars.
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Old 05-24-08, 01:52 AM   #25
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UT Dude, any chance you can scale down that pic so that people don't have to scroll left and right for each of the responses (or maybe it is just me with my tiny screen).

Rizz, some examples of shaving seconds.

1. The biggest place to lose time is the turnaround. It is not uncommon to see turnaround time (the time from the moment you start braking to the time that you are back up to cruising speed) rest in the neighborhood of 45 seconds or more. Usually this is because people are slow to get back up to speed, but it can also be due to poor turn technique. With good technique, the actual time from braking to accelerating should be in the neighborhood of 10 seconds, and one can/should be back up to speed and in the bars in about 20 seconds.

2. There are also seconds lost a lot of the time at the start (mashing too big a gear and not getting to speed in a reasonable amount of time) or cresting a rise, where again, a TTist wants to get up to cruising speed ASAP. Essentially, all of these mean short sprints.

3. For equipment, booties are actually a common way to lose time. Most don't change drag, and a number of them create drag. In my (and others have verified this) time in the tunnel, it was agreed by all that there is one shoe cover/bootie that is consistently shown to lower drag (though it is miniscule).

4. Vent taping. The legality of this is in a gray area (I believe, unless someone can provide a definitive answer one way or another), but at least for USAC rules, there is nothing specifically barring it, and it is a great way to shave seconds from your time. This includes taping the underside of the tail section of your helmet.

5. Cables. Cables create huge amounts of drag (on the order of 1 watt for every inch of exposed cable. Try to hide these from the wind by getting them in front f your frame, behind your hands, or against the frame. This includes computer cables as well. There is a reason Lance liked Dura AX brakes. They were center pull and positioned the cable in front of the head tube. John Cobb has an "Aero Brake" mod explanation sheet on the Blackwell research site, which significantly reduces your braking power, but makes the front end more aero by trimming the brake and bringing the cable in front of the head tube. Trim or bend extra brake and derailleur cable to get it out of the wind.

6. Bar tape. Again, we are speaking of small amounts, but do you really need to increase the diameter of your cowhorns by a great deal when you spend 30 seconds out of an hour using them?

7. Number pinning. I just saw something that showed a stupid (relatively) amount of drag is caused by numbers and the pinning position/method. 99% of TTs say "right side" for the number, but I always put mine in the middle of the skin suit with the bottom edge just barely above the chamois (the top edge will be below the rear cross seam). Use Super 77 to glue the number on. Some will use double sided sticky tape, but I have not found it to be effective in maintaining a guaranteed hold. If you DO use safety pins, orient them vertically, not horizontally. I have never been at a TT where they can't read the number in the middle of my "posterior."

This probably does not belong here under small things, because it is no small thing, but knees that flare tend to create lots of drag. In the off-season, focusing on a "knees-in" pedal stroke can save you lots of time. Just don't do it at the expense of possible injury or discomfort. On the other hand, look at any rec rider, and their legs will almost always flare out significantly. Compare that to a pro in a breakaway or a TT specialist, and you will see the legs nearly brushing the top tube with every stroke.

Also, as a general rule, ride the TT bike once in a while. Even if it is just a recovery ride, 2-3 or more times a week (30-50% of workouts) will show huge results just because of neuromuscular adaptation. I won't comment on Basso other than to say that there IS some justification to his becoming better in 2004 that may indeed be due to him riding the TT bike for 6 hours at a time through the mountains and just getting comfortable with the bike. Bottom line, if you are not comfortable, you are not as fast as you could be.

Those are a few things off the top of my head. I would be interested to hear from Skydive or Racer X as I believe they have valuable info/experience that they may be willing to share as well.
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