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Thread: Time Trials

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    Time Trials

    I'm a 30ish female who likes to compete in time trials. I've ridden several road races of 45 to 62 miles and found them somewhat boring. Boring because I'm not strong enough to break away early and lead to the end, but I am strong enough to stay in the front pack and be involved in the finishing sprint. This finishing sprint business is fun but it's only a 2 minute event and it is very easy to get boxed out. To ride for two hours just to be jammed in at the end in frustrating.

    This is why I prefer time trials. It's all you. No drafting, no tactics, no getting boxed out, no excuses. Problem is, there are not many around my area. (Massachusetts) What do you others think of time trialing? To me it's more like running where your time is a true reflection of your fitness level.

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    Overacting because I can SpongeDad's Avatar
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    TTs are interesting if you're near someone to catch or keep ahead of. Problem is, that's often not the case. On a pure enjoyment level, I prefer cyclocross racing - there's always something going on. There should be lots of CX racing in MA. Given the seasons, no reason you can't do both.
    “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." (Churchill)

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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    ...but then you win one of those sprints and you remember it forever. The fight for position with your teammates leading you up. The key moment when everything comes together, you fight through the hole and into clear space and then it's mano-a-mano down the last 200m and you are the victor.

    Plus, retelling a sprint victory is tons more exciting for everyone involved than winning a time trial.

    I mean a TT... what, 16 weeks of hashing down your functional threshold, power or heartrate numbers, geeking out on whether to wear this or that brand shoe cover. Then you eat something wonky the morning of your race at the breakfast bar in the hotel and you do your effort while wanting the whole time to throw up and die (perhaps not in that order) and then you finish and mill around waiting for someone to declare you the winner. How fun is that story to hear?
    Last edited by Brian Ratliff; 11-09-09 at 03:12 PM.
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    What category are you?

    Being in (what could be a) successful break is definitely the most fun thing out there. I'd suggest getting on a strong team.
    Reacting is mind candy; it requires no thought. Thinking is tedious.

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    Massachusetts is a big place. There must be some TTs there.

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    Burning Matches. ElJamoquio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy mctrumpy View Post
    new england is a moderately sized place. There must be some tts there.
    ftfy
    Reacting is mind candy; it requires no thought. Thinking is tedious.

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    There's a time trial every week April-Sept in Concord, MA:
    http://www.northeastbicycleclub.org/home/events/?c=cbtt

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElJamoquio View Post
    What category are you?

    Being in (what could be a) successful break is definitely the most fun thing out there. I'd suggest getting on a strong team.
    Two years ago I was a cat 3. Have not road raced since. What I did not like WAS the team aspect. I like winning or failing on my own. This is the interest in TT for me. By the way, Bill Rodgers and Steve Pre are my favorite endurance athletes. Rodgers, like Pre, was fond of saying "run the first half of any race hard and then go crazy in the second half." They were all about handling pain. Embracing it, even.

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    I'll be riding the Maine State TT series this year, in case you wanna try it out. (www.bikemaine.org)
    Riding since 1987
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    Depending on where in MA you're located, there is a TT series in Plainville CT (or somewhere in that vicinity). I think there is another one near Vernon, CT. Obviously these are during the summer. There may be one up at NE Velodrome in NH (a few exits into NH up 93).

    I'm not sure if any of these ideas suits you but:
    - a strong time trialer is always a good teammate to have. Although there isn't this culture of the "Jens Voigt" of women racing, strong teams always, always have riders who can pull forever as the base of their team. Then you get climbers, leadout men, etc. But to be able to pull for a long time, that's a special strength. You can leverage that into becoming an important part of a strong team.

    - certain events favor a strong TT/pacer type racer. There are a few women that come to mind, pros, who can't sprint well but will do some serious damage if given a bit of room. Anna Milkowski is one of them (and local to CT). Courses where there's a hard climb long before the finish, allowing a strong rider to get out front, then offers the challenge of holding onto whatever lead, those races would suit someone like yourself.

    - Track racing favors strong racers with leg speed. If you can get even small gaps between you and the other women, your strength can help you win. Simply racing on the track will teach you leg speed, or teach you that you need to learn track speed. I found myself to be in the latter example, and I think I have good leg speed. I really don't.

    - Time trialing is a means to an end. Meaning you can go out and focus solely on TTs. However, even the best TT riders will tell you that group riding helps increase pace. The top riders may not do group rides for training anymore, but talk to any triathlete and they'll tell you that group riding helped increase their speed.

    - Therefore, it may be beneficial, even as a strong time trialer, to go out and do mass start races (and group rides for sure). if this is the case, you would benefit greatly from spending some time thinking about tactics, about letting yourself get physiologically bored (i.e. racing at 90 bpm for a while), and start thinking of ways you can use your strength to get away from the field.

    A team helps greatly in the last bit - you can be the decoy, but you'd be strong enough to win on your own if other teams don't chase. And teams can help launch you.

    cdr

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpediemracing View Post
    Depending on where in MA you're located, there is a TT series in Plainville CT (or somewhere in that vicinity). I think there is another one near Vernon, CT. Obviously these are during the summer. There may be one up at NE Velodrome in NH (a few exits into NH up 93).

    I'm not sure if any of these ideas suits you but:
    - a strong time trialer is always a good teammate to have. Although there isn't this culture of the "Jens Voigt" of women racing, strong teams always, always have riders who can pull forever as the base of their team. Then you get climbers, leadout men, etc. But to be able to pull for a long time, that's a special strength. You can leverage that into becoming an important part of a strong team.

    - certain events favor a strong TT/pacer type racer. There are a few women that come to mind, pros, who can't sprint well but will do some serious damage if given a bit of room. Anna Milkowski is one of them (and local to CT). Courses where there's a hard climb long before the finish, allowing a strong rider to get out front, then offers the challenge of holding onto whatever lead, those races would suit someone like yourself.

    - Track racing favors strong racers with leg speed. If you can get even small gaps between you and the other women, your strength can help you win. Simply racing on the track will teach you leg speed, or teach you that you need to learn track speed. I found myself to be in the latter example, and I think I have good leg speed. I really don't.

    - Time trialing is a means to an end. Meaning you can go out and focus solely on TTs. However, even the best TT riders will tell you that group riding helps increase pace. The top riders may not do group rides for training anymore, but talk to any triathlete and they'll tell you that group riding helped increase their speed.

    - Therefore, it may be beneficial, even as a strong time trialer, to go out and do mass start races (and group rides for sure). if this is the case, you would benefit greatly from spending some time thinking about tactics, about letting yourself get physiologically bored (i.e. racing at 90 bpm for a while), and start thinking of ways you can use your strength to get away from the field.

    A team helps greatly in the last bit - you can be the decoy, but you'd be strong enough to win on your own if other teams don't chase. And teams can help launch you.

    cdr
    Very nice post. Thank you for taking the time.

    I do not want to misrepresent myself here. I do not consider myself a national class rider. My game was distance running in high school and in college where I ran track and cross country. A knee operation ended any serious running for me. So now I bike. Started year-round riding 7 years ago. Commute to work most days and like biking in general. I did try road racing a while back and had no trouble advancing quickly to cat 3. This was because of a solid running background and few good female riders at the lower levels. Going up the ladder and that all changes. Problem was/is I don't like the pack aspect of bike racing. The drafting at speed allows lesser athletes to be in a position they have no business occupying. Or I should say, that is how I view it as a former runner. You cannot draft to any real degree in marathoning no matter what you might hear. Cycling you can. This I do not like.

    So for fun I like to do cycling time trials. I find the challenge of concentrating without others around you to be just like running. And that is what I like.

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    Burning Matches. ElJamoquio's Avatar
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    Just TT in front of 50 people chasing you. Trust me, it's more fun.
    Reacting is mind candy; it requires no thought. Thinking is tedious.

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    fair weather cyclist pjcampbell's Avatar
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    Have you considered focusing more on higher end power to be able to break away?

    Yes, time trialing is all you,but I personally think it is sort of boring. If you are in MA, you might consider doing the "hill climb" circuit, which is essence a time trial, but for me much more interesting. They are mostly mass start and of course do not require any fancy TT bike.

    http://www.hillclimbseries.com/

    In a RR, if the terrain allows it, YOU can make that race interesting by attacking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurel Lane View Post
    To me it's more like running where your time is a true reflection of your fitness level.
    IMO this is totally wrong for time trialing. TTs are reflective of homework and mentality not fitness. Sure fitness plays a major role in it but position and willingness to suffer are much greater. I am outclassed in the fitness and raw power departments most of the time when I roll up to a TT but the results don't reflect that. The strongest guys doesn't always win just like road races and crits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ElJamoquio View Post
    Just TT in front of 50 people chasing you. Trust me, it's more fun.
    as a former Tri guy... allow me to quote EJ, he nailed it.

    TTs are fun (in a kinky sort of way), but TTing with a whole pack of other racers chasing you is a whoooole different sort of rush.

    I've never come out on top in a sprint, (some 2nds, 3rds,.. never the W) but between being the pacer for a team at times, and other times launching completely hair-brained attacks to make people panic, I don't find racing to be dull in the slightest.

    Granted - I'm not a huge fan of crits and the usual mass sprints, but the fact that another racer isn't as "good" as me (in physical condition) doesn't matter. They may be (such as cdr) smart enough and crafty enough to use my strength against me, work me over repeatedly, and beat me to the line easily. The name of the game is, 'first to the line' not, 'measure quads, WIN'. It took me a while to come around to that, I am now happy to pit my TT legs against someone else's sprint legs... different strategies for the same result.

    This sport is a combination of very intense critical thinking (try thinking out the next 5 minutes of pack dynmaics while red-lining @ 197bpm) and also having the legs to back that thinking up. Some people win with more brain, others with more brawn... that is what makes it fun.
    It took me several years to come around to this point of view- for a while I was completely upset that other people were "cheating" (drafting, the same reasoning you stated)... but now that is the part I love most.

    FWIW, think ahead and pick your battles- hilly circuit races or road races might be a good setup for you?
    I just finished my tentative schedule of races for next season... I am going to do crits for weekly workouts of towing people around and some sprint work 'icing' at the end, but my 'A' races are circuit races and road races where I will put that work to good use... stretching it out & thinning the herd on hills, and then getting away for solo or very small group finishes.
    Quote Originally Posted by shovelhd View Post
    If it comes down to a field sprint, you probably won't win, so don't let it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrennie View Post
    IMO this is totally wrong for time trialing. TTs are reflective of homework and mentality not fitness. Sure fitness plays a major role in it but position and willingness to suffer are much greater. I am outclassed in the fitness and raw power departments most of the time when I roll up to a TT but the results don't reflect that. The strongest guys doesn't always win just like road races and crits.
    TT's aren't called the "Race of Truth" for nothing. You find out how much you really want to win. I've come in with below average form and left with one of the best times. And an empty stomach. And the inability to get off the couch that evening.

    The two best things in racing are passing your minute person in a TT (especially if they are a rival) and winning, as the Belg's say, with "no one in the picture". Winning a field sprint, if you've done the other two, is third.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurel Lane View Post
    The drafting at speed allows lesser athletes to be in a position they have no business occupying.
    That's what I hate about chess too. It seems as often as note the weaker athlete wins over the stronger one.

    There's a lot more to bike racing than just fitness. If you decide it's not for you, fine; but road racing is a lot more than just a test of fitness. Figuring out how to win within the constraints of your personal strengths and weaknesses against those of the other riders is an advanced skill in itself. You shouldn't denigrate successful road racers as lesser athletes just because they don't meet your peculiar standards.

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    Whatever floats your boat. In spite of the fact that my one gift is an ability to suffer, I much prefer the rolling chess match of a road race to a TT.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
    You could get lost and die.
    You could hit a tree and die.
    OR YOU COULD STAY HOME AND FALL OFF THE COUCH AND DIE.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurel Lane View Post
    Problem was/is I don't like the pack aspect of bike racing. The drafting at speed allows lesser athletes to be in a position they have no business occupying.
    Calling these women "lesser athletes" is sort of like Ryan Hall calling Usain Bolt a "lesser athlete" because he can't run a marathon at Ryan's pace.

    That's the beauty of road racing; it requires a multitude of skills and tactics, not just a high FTP and a tolerance for pain. I train for TTs, I want to get better at 'em, I did a practice one Saturday... but if that's all racing consisted of, I'd quit now.
    Kendall Frederick

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    Senior Member Homebrew01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asgelle View Post
    That's what I hate about chess too. It seems as often as note the weaker athlete wins over the stronger one.

    There's a lot more to bike racing than just fitness. If you decide it's not for you, fine; but road racing is a lot more than just a test of fitness. Figuring out how to win within the constraints of your personal strengths and weaknesses against those of the other riders is an advanced skill in itself. You shouldn't denigrate successful road racers as lesser athletes just because they don't meet your peculiar standards.
    Huh ? I don't remember anything like drafting at chess tournaments.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
    Huh ? I don't remember anything like drafting at chess tournaments.
    As a former competitive chess player I have to agree. Road bike racing is more like rolling commodity trading than a rolling chess match.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurel Lane View Post
    The drafting at speed allows lesser athletes to be in a position they have no business occupying.
    That would be true if cycling were actually about who had the biggest FTP and the best power to weight ratio. But winning a bike race is about crossing the line first. Anyone who consistently is the first or one of the first racers across the line in a bike race is by definition a good athlete in cycling, regardless of how they do it. Bike racing is exciting and enthralling precisely because it allows riders to win by strength, smarts or (most often) some combination of the two. Riders who don't figure this out and figure that their weaker fellows should just be handing them the wins in deference to their obvious athletic superiority - and who get frustrated when the wins don't come - quickly become an irritating presence in the peloton.

    That said, there are plenty of people are best at and prefer racing TT's, and more power to you if that includes you (by the way - search www.ne-bra.org for New England TT series). But don't make the mistake of thinking that a rider's 'right' to win is measured by her strength in a time trial, and certainly don't make the mistake of believing that a win against stronger racers is somehow unearned; it is ungracious and incorrect to think about bike racing in this fashion. When you get right down to it, it is basically a meritocracy: if you can win, win. If you aren't winning (or at least getting close), the most likely person culprit is you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Racer Ex View Post
    TT's aren't called the "Race of Truth" for nothing. You find out how much you really want to win. I've come in with below average form and left with one of the best times. And an empty stomach. And the inability to get off the couch that evening.

    The two best things in racing are passing your minute person in a TT (especially if they are a rival) and winning, as the Belg's say, with "no one in the picture". Winning a field sprint, if you've done the other two, is third.

    How about winning a road race by dropping the pack and TTing to a solo victory???? Seems like the best of everything!!

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    I did not mean to anger anyone. I simply view bike racing as a runner. Running is very different from cycling. What you think of as chess, I view as dreary. I'm only interested in spending myself totally. Someone earlier posted a hill climbing site. That appeals to me because it's hard to draft at 7mph straight up. If you love road racing, good for you. It does not interest me.

    Thanks for all who did not feel the need to get defensive. I was given some good info here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurel Lane View Post
    Thanks for all who did not feel the need to get defensive. I was given some good info here.
    Welcome to the "33". Like racing, it can get competitive and rough at times

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