10.7 mile hilly time trial course. 5.35 mi out turn around and come back. I am told the way back is faster than the way out. Do you try to hold a 90 RPM cadence like a normel ride or do you mash bigger gears? Should I try to use as big a gear as I can while keeping my heart rate below max? What is a good strategy?
Ok...I am BY FAR not an expert. But from what I have read and experienced on my "TT" training (on the trainer) here is all I can offer...
1. Warm up quite a lot first. You should be breaking a sweat at least and getting your legs past that initial point of where they feel a little heavy (if you ever feel that). I can tell when my legs open up in warm up. I get kind of a tingly flush feeling run down my legs.
2. Don't go out too hard. It seems when you are all revved up for the TT it's easy to go out too hard and blow yourself up early. The best TT efforts I have put in (again I've never raced except against myself on the trainer) are where I started out at a pace that I was absolutely sure I could hold for the whole TT and then as I get into a rhythm start to up my cadence from 90 to 100 to 110 or so if I feel good (although some days pushing a bigger gear at lower cadence feels better, or switching back and forth some). The power graph (if you had one) would look like an incline where the power output is greater at the end of the race than at the beginning to the point where you are suffering, but able to hang on in the last part of the ride (for me the last mile or so of a 10 mile TT).
3. I find it, many times, easier to increase my power output during the ride by increasing my cadence rather than mashing a higher gear. Although sometimes I'll mash a little to try to bring my HR down with a lower cadence. Of course that depends on your riding style. You may naturally be more of a masher. I was looking at some TT profiles the other day of some of the top pro riders. I don't even remember who or where I saw them (some link from BF). I found it interesting that one top rider averaged like 110 rpm, while the other (I think the winner) was more in the 90-95 rpm range. Different styles to acheive similar power.
4. Of course, aerodynamics will come into play. Find yourself as aero a position as you can possibly hold for the entire course. You may be a bit sore when you are done. Of course, doing my TT test on the trainer, I have not had to address this part yet.
5. I have never raced (yet). I have just been studying it. If someone else who knows more about this than I do comes in and corrects me I will not be offended in the least. Just trying to help.
6. Let us know how you did. I am very interested to see results of beginning racers as I may be interested in trying my had at it some time in the future (I still have some work to do though )
Ride what feels comfortable to you. I tend to run about 70-75 rpm when I'm going really hard, I find it more comfortable.
For examples of how much cadence varies from person to person I supply two examples from the pro-cycling world.
Fabian Cancellara- 2 time world tt champion, and general time trial destroyer, runs very big gears at 70-75 rpm
Levi Lepheimer- 3rd place in last years TdF, and winner of the (almost) race deciding stage 19tt (by a substantial margin) tends to run smaller gears at 95-110rpm
I was always told by a good time trialist to go until I felt like I was going to spew....then back it off just a little and keep it going....in other words, you just have to learn to suffer, suffer, suffer. If you are doing this right, you will show imporvements every time you do the same course, and you may notice that sometimes you actually sit up a little because you dont quite want to suffer as much as you should.......It is good to try and come home harder on a bigger gear, especially if you know that section is quicker due to course conditions...but dont hold back to much as it is harder to make up ground chasing the clock....a good way to remained focus is to chase down (or try to) your minute man in front and then the next...and the next.....etc, and dont get to caught up with thinking about facts and figures....your body will tell you what is going on and it should hurt like hell!!!!
With a course that short, I would really suggest riding it at an easy pace before hand or, if that's not possible, drive it. When I TT'd, I would take a lot of deep breaths just before the start to enable me to get up to race speed without going into oxygen debt immediately. Then I would find my rhythm, which for me was about 80 rpm and use the biggest gear that would allow me to keep up my cadence. The point was to pay attention to my cadence and my breathing and not worry about the time. It's called "riding within yourself." The last couple of miles you can pick up the pace so that you puke on the finish line. If I didn't feel totally nauseous by the end, I knew I hadn't put in a good effort.
Sorry I thought I replied with my results, but I must not have completed the post.
The route was very hilly and the start was on a hill. The first mile was a 500ft climb. I know this is not huge, but I did not want to blow up in the first mile so I tried to keep my heart rate below 150. I am glad I did because the third hill was marked 12% grade and my HR hit 179 on the top. Luckily it was only about 3/4 of a mile long. My time was 35.07. The winner did it in 26 something. I learned quite a bit on this ride. I started first and got passed by 6 riders before the turn around. When I got to the turn I could still see the leader. I would say by mile 6 they were gone. After the race I was comparing notes with one of the faster riders and he said he hit 57 MPH down the big hill. My top speed was 43 MPH so clearly these guys were pouring it on down the hills on the back side. I had a blast and will do it again. The bottom line for me is to mash when I can and peddle on the down hills. Thanks for all the advise.
I was very happy with my results for the first TT. I decided to join the local club. They do TT's once a week on different courses and road race once a week on different courses. I rode my first road race last week which was also a rush. It was my first time riding in a group and actually feeling the draft. I finished second in the B class riders. For those of you thinking of trying it you should. There are riders of all levels and most are very helpful.
that is a tough course for a first tt. You should give yourself a pat on the back for having a go!!! You will find the next time you do that course (provided fitness level the same) you will improve your time somewhat, from just knowing how to measure your effort a little better....you will find some of the experienced guys will have ridden that course heaps of times and know exactly when to apply themselves...they could probably do it with their eyes shut!!! and it is worth remembering that short tt's can be the most unpleasant because you dont really get alot of time to settle into a rythym....throw a hill into the mix and you have are off to the house of pain!!!!!
how did you felt you went with your gear selection when climbing???
I did not come out of my big chain ring (52). I did use the largest cog on the rear cluster (26) for a short time on both big hills. I was out of my saddle on the climbs. I did not notice if the fast guys were out of the saddle or not. They were all using TT bikes. I have been practicing staying down in my drops so tonight I will try my second TT. Tonight's course is flat in comparision.
Second TT results were OK. It was cold and windy. Local weather was a 25MPH headwind going out, nice tailer on the way back. I don't know why, but I feel like the headwind hurts more than the tailer helps. 10 miles total. 5 out and 5 back so wind should be a wash. 30m 59sec. Average speed 19.6. I guess this is OK. I don't feel like I could have gone any harder. I will keep practicing. My HR got to 150 immediately and stayed between 150 and 160 the whole way. I guess I need to push the HR harder my calculated max is 182. Do you guys run up to the max?
Obviously you tend not to use them alot on hilly courses....but believe me...this will make a big difference to your time if you are not using them already....slipstreaming is very important if you are looking to 'cut time' from your tt.
it is a relatively inexpensive improvement to achieve an aero advantage (2 to 3km/hr on average improvement for the same effort)
I do not have Aero bars. In fact my first TT i rode on the hoods. Since that experience I have been practicing in my drops. One of the other riders offered to let me try a pair of clip on bars (he has an extra set). I will take him up on the offer and give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.
As far as HR goes I will push myself harder on some training rides to see what happens. I am able to recover quickly from the 160 range down to 130. I don't know what will happen if I push to 170 or 180. I guess there is only one way to find out.
Be sure to "train" on those clip-ons before your event. They can make it very uncomfortable to breathe if one has a belly in da mix plus they can be a bit sketchy while trying to hold a line. Never use them when doing a group ride, you will be called out big time.
I borrowed a set of clip on bars, but could not make them fit my bike. I have a Trek Pilot and it has brake levers on the flat part of the bars so that you can reach the brakes from an upright position. It was not going to be simple to remove the levers and make everything work so I abandoned the aero bar idea for now. I do believe they would give me an aerodynamic advantage, but probably not so much on this type of bike.