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Which bike to use for a TT

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Which bike to use for a TT

Old 04-09-12, 08:05 AM
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Which bike to use for a TT

The only Stage races Iíve done allowed only mass-start bikes in the TT, so it was pretty simple: Skin-suit, Aero-helmet, and ride in the drops. This year Iím making a push to collect points and make cat 3, so Iím traveling to some regional stage races that allow time trial bikes in the TT, but Iím not going to invest in a TT bike that I might use twice each year. Iím a big fan of minimizing risks by not making any changes to a bike shortly before a race, so Iím thinking about putting, Aero-bars, fast-forward post and my v-section wheels on my other road bike (2006 TCR) and calling it my TT bike. It doesnít fit me well because itís a bit too long (hence the custom bike), but thatís OK for a TT I think. Plus, if things hit the fan in the crit, I can use the TCR for the RR or cannibalize it for parts if I have to.

The thing is that the TCR has fat, round tubing, and I suspect my steel bike has a substantially smaller frontal area. All things being equal, I should be a good time-trialist because I have a good FTP by cat 4 standards. Unfortunately, all things are not equal as Iím sure a lot of people will be on TT bikes and Iím trying to squeeze every second I can out of the TT to minimize my time deficit. Do you think the small aerodynamic advantage of skinny tubing justify the added risk of swapping out seat post, wheels and aero-bars just before the race? The order will be Crit, TT, RR, so Iíll be starting with a road bike, putting TT stuff on, and then taking it off again.

As a side note (Warning, Iím about to start ranting), does anybody else think that having TT bikes in amateur and particularly cat 3/4/5 races is a load of crap? I mean, in a RR or crit, for the most part, it doesnít really matter if youíre on an $800 aluminum bike with a Tiagra drive train, or $7,000 carbon with Dura Ace, the best racers will usually win. In a time trial, however, there is a real tangible advantage to dropping the extra $$ to get a TT bike, and I donít like the way it turns low-level amateur bike races into spending competitions rather than letting the best man win. *steps down from soapbox*
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Old 04-09-12, 08:31 AM
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The TT (or GC placing) will not give you any 3's upgrade points anyway, so your only goal for the TT should be to not get cut. I don't think they're enforcing timecuts in the lower cats so I don't know if I'd even bring an extra bike for the TT in your case. Just slap your TT bars on your road bike and go! Well I guess if you want to get good at TTs, then actually trying may be a better approach..

One thing about that TT course is the downhill - you will probably want something bigger than a 53x12 for it if you can swing it (at least I always want a bigger gear in that part)

Good luck at Walla Walla! I'll be there sucking in the 3's TT, but hopefully winning the crit.
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Old 04-09-12, 08:46 AM
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ugh, i think its really dangerous to start talking about limiting what people are allowed to ride in lower cats vs higher cats.

for what its worth, i'm a good cat3 TTer. i do have a dedicated TT bike (its just aluminum and my rear is just a disc cover), but i was a good TTer in 4/5 (consistent top 5) with nothing more than a swapped saddle, clip on bars, skinsuit and lid.

for better or worse, its easier to buy time with TT gear than any other race discipline. aero tech is a significant advantage.

but the flipside of that is that a lot of guys on the crazy aerobikes dont do thier homework about the little ways to maximize performance: like practicing turns and turnarounds, fine tuning position either in a tunnel or with coastdowns and power/speed tests in different positions, cleaning up cabling and clothes, variable pacing for small undulations in the course, and just generally pacing well.

basically in my experience, the lower the category, the less overlap there is between the people who spend big money on toys and people who take the time to read and study and fine tune thier game, so in a field of 30 4/5s, youre gonna have a handful (2-3) who are really razor sharp in every way and you might have a hard time contending, but most of them are either gonna be idiots with more money than brains, or folks like you who are working hard but not in a position to drop big money on a dedicated bike yet.

if you think newbs on expensive bikes is unfair, wait till you show up for a climbing road race and see 3-4 olympic CX racers signed up in the 4s, or iron man tri guys in the 4/5 TTs.
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Old 04-09-12, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by mattm
The TT (or GC placing) will not give you any 3's upgrade points anyway, so your only goal for the TT should be to not get cut. I don't think they're enforcing timecuts in the lower cats so I don't know if I'd even bring an extra bike for the TT in your case. Just slap your TT bars on your road bike and go! Well I guess if you want to get good at TTs, then actually trying may be a better approach..

One thing about that TT course is the downhill - you will probably want something bigger than a 53x12 for it if you can swing it (at least I always want a bigger gear in that part)

Good luck at Walla Walla! I'll be there sucking in the 3's TT, but hopefully winning the crit.

Yeah, I saw that the GC doesn’t count for cat-3 points. Although scoring some points is my main goal, a good GC placement in a prestigious (as far as the Northwest goes) race would make a nice feather in the cap. I’m looking at peaking for Wenatchee, so I wouldn’t mind winning that one and I’m using Walla Walla as a kind of a tune-up race to get all this stuff figured out. I have suddenly become encouraged about my chances in Walla Walla this Year because despite the crappier than normal March weather, I managed to stick to my training by way of a lot of hours on the trainer and suffering through base-miles in the rain. I've noticed, now that everyone is out and riding again, that a lot of people who are normally faster than I am aren't as strong, so I'm feeling good about the competition having gotten fat this winter. Thanks for the tip on the downhill TT. I’ll make sure to bring a cassette with an 11t cog, and good luck to you as well.
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Old 04-09-12, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by badhat

if you think newbs on expensive bikes is unfair, wait till you show up for a climbing road race and see 3-4 olympic CX racers signed up in the 4s, or iron man tri guys in the 4/5 TTs.
We have some pro cx racers in my area who do some of road events as cat 4s, and I was recently killed in a hill climb by a IM tri guy. Although they don't really belong in the cat-4/5s, I'd rather get beat a legitimately stronger rider than get beat by an equal (or slightly weaker) rider's bike.

Last edited by Debusama; 04-10-12 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 04-09-12, 09:35 AM
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i meant pro XC, not CX...

heh
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Old 04-09-12, 09:46 AM
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i mean yeah its patently not a level playing field, but it never will be, so then the question becomes when is it TOO inequal?

i get out of work at 3 instead of 5-6 so i have daylight to train all winter where most amateurs dont.

otoh i just dont have budget for race wheels, so i do the best i can on aluminum clinchers. as a long breakaway racer, i'm sure i'd benefit from some nice deep carbon tubies.

i know that at least some 4/5 stage races (and a number of colelgiate races) have mass start legal bike TTs. that doesnt really bother me, but i also think a vast majority of sport level amateurs have terrible positions, dont spend enough time on thier TT rigs, and dont get pacing, so you can make up a LOT of aero deficit with brains and good preparation.

in racing as in life the goalposts are different for everyone, and everyones got limiters and strengths that are beyond thier control. just gotta combine brains and prep and genes and do yer best.
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Old 04-09-12, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by badhat
i meant pro XC, not CX...

heh
Olympic xc racers, pro cx racers, either will crush a cat-4 field with relative ease.
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Old 04-09-12, 10:17 AM
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Waa waaaaaaaaaaa. I think it's funnier than **** that a guy who owns two bikes and is going to turn one into a TT bike is whining about people that might own two bikes, one of them a TT bike. You invested in a skinsuit and aero helmet which put you ahead of a lot of guys. I've seen Pro stage races where the guys on small teams don't even have that. Maybe we should all just ride Keirin bikes and make things really fair? Of course then there would be a w/kg advantage for some folks so we should also weigh people and add weight to make it fair for everyone.

A TT bike is only better if it's set up correctly and the rider practices on it. My teammate took a top ten in the 45+ 1/2/3 TT at VOS on his road bike, he goes slower on his TT bike. So do a lot of people.

People actually do TT's as something other than an afterthought during a stage race, BTW. They actually prepare and train for TT's.

Finally, most of the people that are going to kick your butt in the TT would do so on a road bike. When you get done look 15 seconds up the chart and see who beat you. Maybe half of them you would have beaten.

And you're wrong about the road bike advantage between a cheapo and a high end model. Go wander over to Analytic Cycling and see what 6 pounds does per mile on a climb.
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Old 04-09-12, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by badhat

a vast majority of sport level amateurs have terrible positions, dont spend enough time on thier TT rigs, and dont get pacing, so you can make up a LOT of aero deficit with brains and good preparation.
I'm sure we could debate this all day, and i don't think we can make everything completely equal. Of Course we can't have separate categories for people with kids or people who work more than 40-hours a week because that would be too difficult to verify and enforce, only using mass-start bikes in time trials is an easy way to even things out. I think it's a shame that some, brains and good preparation makes up a deficit when it should be lengthening the gap.
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Old 04-09-12, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex
When you get done look 15 seconds up the chart and see who beat you. Maybe half of them you would have beaten.
that's my point
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Old 04-09-12, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Debusama
Olympic xc racers, pro cx racers, either will crush a cat-4 field with relative ease.

well yeah but i'm pretty sure a UCI CX guy can start at cat3 on the road, no?
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Old 04-09-12, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by badhat
well yeah but i'm pretty sure a UCI CX guy can start at cat3 on the road, no?
I don't know?
https://www.wsbaracing.com/events/1122/results
https://jtfountain.com/jtfountain/jtfountain.com.html

From what I can tell he is actually a decent guy, I've done several CX races that he's hosted on his property. He and his (also pro racer) brother do contribute a quite a bit to local cycling. He also races in the geared fields on a single-speed rather than crushing the rest if us in the single-speed category just because he can, so I don't imagine He'd be sandbagging and racing in a lower category by choice.
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Old 04-09-12, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Debusama
only using mass-start bikes in time trials is an easy way to even things out.
Then you're OK with hanging lead weights on lighter people's bikes? Banning all but approved rims and tires?

You know what, when I go out to race I try to make it the most ridiculously UN-level playing field I can. It's called RACING.

And yeah, it would be really fair to the majority of people who do TT's on TT bikes to ban them. Up yours.

Originally Posted by Debusama
I think it's a shame that some, brains and good preparation makes up a deficit when it should be lengthening the gap.
Well, you're going to do two TT's a year on a bike that's too big for you. I'm not sure where the brains and preparation come in here.

Oh, and here's a contradictory view to yours:

Originally Posted by Debusama
In a cat-5 field there may be very fast racers for whom cat-5 is the starting point on the way to cat-1 who would win with or without a tt bike. The same field may also contain people who are 40-pounds overweight, just sat on a road bike for the first time last month and who will come in last no mater what bike the are on. With such a large range of abilities, the difference between one rider and the next is large enough that the time gained form the slightly different geometry of an Aero-bike is far less likely to make a differance the the standings.
You want things both ways.

BTW, three people beat you because they had TT rigs. And you beat three people with TT rigs who would have done better on their road bike. Until you're at the pointy end of the stick, that's about the average.

You're like Andy Schleck whining about having to go downhill at the Tour. You don't like TT's or TT bikes and you're not very good at TT's so you have a hissy about the rules that you knew going in. It's not that you can't afford it, which was the rationale you were trying to hide behind. I can put a TT rig together for $300, or less. Lots of folks here have done the cheap TT rig.

Part of becoming rounded at this sport is learning how to ride a TT on a TT bike.

BTW, the bike that still holds the US 40km record is an old steel single speed thing that would be worth about $150 on Craigslist.

Last edited by Racer Ex; 04-09-12 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 04-09-12, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex
Then you're OK with hanging lead weights on lighter people's bikes? Banning all but approved rims and tires?

You know what, when I go out to race I try to make it the most ridiculously UN-level playing field I can. It's called RACING.

And yeah, it would be really fair to the majority of people who do TT's on TT bikes to ban them. Up yours.



Well, you're going to do two TT's a year on a bike that's too big for you. I'm not sure where the brains and preparation come in here.

Oh, and here's a contradictory view to yours:



You want things both ways.

BTW, three people beat you because they had TT rigs. And you beat three people with TT rigs who would have done better on their road bike. Until you're at the pointy end of the stick, that's about the average.

You're like Andy Schleck whining about having to go downhill at the Tour. You don't like TT's or TT bikes and you're not very good at TT's so you have a hissy about the rules that you knew going in. It's not that you can't afford it, which was the rationale you were trying to hide behind. I can put a TT rig together for $300, or less. Lots of folks here have done the cheap TT rig.

Part of becoming rounded at this sport is learning how to ride a TT on a TT bike.

BTW, the bike that still holds the US 40km record is an old steel single speed thing that would be worth about $150 on Craigslist.
Wow, that's a lot of personal attacks. I don't envy the poor straw man you just beat up. I vaguely remember writing that last quote, but it was quite a while ago. How much searching through my posting history did it take for you to find that? I'm not sure why voicing an opinion about the use of TT bikes in lower category stage races inspired such passionate hostility. If something about me gets under your skin so much, I would encourage you to put me on your ignore list and not respond to my posts if you can’t engage in civil discourse.
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Old 04-09-12, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by badhat
well yeah but i'm pretty sure a UCI CX guy can start at cat3 on the road, no?
Boulder Roubaix, what? In his defense USAC wouldn't give him an upgrade past 3...

X, these pain meds have changed you
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Old 04-10-12, 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Debusama
I vaguely remember writing that last quote, but it was quite a while ago.
You must be very young to feel that a few months is a long time. Trust me, this will change.

Originally Posted by Debusama
How much searching through my posting history did it take for you to find that?
I'd estimate around 93 seconds. I have mad moderator powers though. Go look and see what I left in your refrigerator.

Originally Posted by Debusama
I'm not sure why voicing an opinion about the use of TT bikes in lower category stage races inspired such passionate hostility. If something about me gets under your skin so much, I would encourage you to put me on your ignore list and not respond to my posts if you canít engage in civil discourse.
Or I could just resort to passive/aggressive comments couched as "civil discourse". But that's not my style. You might have figured that out already. If you didn't:

You have a fondness for red herring. It's tasty with a good kick in the nuts which is what you can expect if you take contradictory positions on your various soap boxes while taking a dump on people's rosebushes.

I'm taking you to task for wanting to change the rules to fit your own personal agenda regarding something that I've watched a lot of people invest a great deal of time and effort towards. Why? Somehow 95% or more of the Cat 3/4/5 racers manage to show up with TT bikes at TT's, be it stage races or ITT's. Folks have already spent "brains and preparation" building and preparing for something that you are treating as an inconvenience.

I've won several National medals and State championships in TT disciplines. I bought my first TT bike as a Cat 5. The experience I gained doing TT's on a TT bike over the years laid the foundation for not only the aforementioned success, but a lot of racing success in general. Had I been limited to a road bike I would have had a lot of gaps in my education. I've helped others succeed and/or improve in this sport based on what I've learned. And the Cat 1/2 level is really no place to start learning how to ride a TT bike.

Given your lack of experience I suppose I should be more lenient but:

What you have done, sonny boy, is stood on my lawn.

Originally Posted by kindablue

X, these pain meds have changed you
I ran out of muscle relaxers last night. Calling the doctor for a refill tomorrow. I should be less edgy.
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Old 04-10-12, 11:34 AM
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https://youtu.be/gx4jn77VKlQ
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Old 04-10-12, 11:40 AM
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Unreal.
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Old 04-10-12, 12:17 PM
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There is a good old book, written by Dennis Conner (the guy some feel took the fun out of the sport of sailing by doing every possible thing he could to be in a position to win races), entitled "No Excuse to Lose". It's really the only approach you should take if you want to succeed at something like bike racing. Thinking the other guy is better equipped, genetically gifted, has a better natural build, etc. etc. is a really great way to not win. It isn't easy to develop and maintain a proper mental approach in this sport, but it's necessary. If you can't grab the bike you have right now and go out to give it your all planning to do well, then upgrading your bike is likely pointless. You will be one of those guys with the TT bike losing to those going cannibal style. You see 'those guys' all over the place. But if you don't need that upgrade to believe you can win, then it is more likely to actually help you do it, because you are more prepared in other ways. That's my 'still a newbie' perspective anyway.

Debusama, it's just a guess, based on your recent posts, but I'd be willing to bet that your attitude is a limiting factor in your cycling success. Listening to people who not only win, but know why they win, are actually capable of expressing it, and are willing to share that, would be an awesome step. It's tough to achieve even moderate success in this sport, and I wish you well as you work your way up the learning and training curves.
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Old 04-10-12, 12:35 PM
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Debusama - I'm local to you, have done the races you mention the last few years, and did pretty well in the TTs as a 4.
If you have good legs & have put in your training time, there is nothing to be deeply concerned about... you'll be fast.

I bought some gear before last season and I have good grasp of a reasonable ROM returns from the gear.
My times (same course, accounting for weather) improved by a three digit percent from previous years, and the gear was worth 25% of that gain.
I don't publish my aero/wattage numbers, but even with no aero-gear improvements over previous years, I would still have been top in the TTs last year by dint of better physical training, better mental training, & better pacing.

So, take heart - I think you'll be just fine.
If you want to go super-fast in a TT, the gains you want can be mostly met by improving your flexibility on your road bike & more specific training.
I won't be doing any road races this year, but best of luck to you - I'm confident your winter of training will pay off.

from the department of "It's worth what you paid for it" - Both the stage races you are targeting tend to be windy, tailoring your pacing & efforts to those conditions is probably worth 15-20 seconds.
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Old 04-10-12, 12:59 PM
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I think it's a bit strange to criticise people for using the best equipment they can afford, that is within the rules. And FWIW, I'd have thought that equipment differences mattered less to the result in the lower categories, where the spread of ability is likely to be very large, than in the elite races where the margins are finer.
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Old 04-10-12, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Hida Yanra
Debusama - I'm local to you, have done the races you mention the last few years, and did pretty well in the TTs as a 4.
If you have good legs & have put in your training time, there is nothing to be deeply concerned about... you'll be fast.

I bought some gear before last season and I have good grasp of a reasonable ROM returns from the gear.
My times (same course, accounting for weather) improved by a three digit percent from previous years, and the gear was worth 25% of that gain.
I don't publish my aero/wattage numbers, but even with no aero-gear improvements over previous years, I would still have been top in the TTs last year by dint of better physical training, better mental training, & better pacing.

So, take heart - I think you'll be just fine.
If you want to go super-fast in a TT, the gains you want can be mostly met by improving your flexibility on your road bike & more specific training.
I won't be doing any road races this year, but best of luck to you - I'm confident your winter of training will pay off.

from the department of "It's worth what you paid for it" - Both the stage races you are targeting tend to be windy, tailoring your pacing & efforts to those conditions is probably worth 15-20 seconds.
Thanks,
based on previous results and the speeds I maintain during training rides on the aero-bars, unless the field is stronger this year than the last few years, I think it will go OK. I've actually driven to Walla Walla a few times to ride the course, and as you may remember from Frozen Flatlands, there's no shortage wind to work with around Spokane, so I will indeed work on wind pacing.
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Old 04-10-12, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54
I think it's a bit strange to criticise people for using the best equipment they can afford, that is within the rules. And FWIW, I'd have thought that equipment differences mattered less to the result in the lower categories, where the spread of ability is likely to be very large, than in the elite races where the margins are finer.
I don't think I criticized people for using equipment that is within the rules. My intent was to criticize the rules, not the people who follow them. Sorry if it didn't come of that way.
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Old 04-10-12, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Racer Ex
You must be very young to feel that a few months is a long time. Trust me, this will change.
I've won several National medals and State championships in TT disciplines. I bought my first TT bike as a Cat 5. The experience I gained doing TT's on a TT bike over the years laid the foundation for not only the aforementioned success, but a lot of racing success in general. Had I been limited to a road bike I would have had a lot of gaps in my education. I've helped others succeed and/or improve in this sport based on what I've learned. And the Cat 1/2 level is really no place to start learning how to ride a TT bike.
So I'm going a bit off topic but your post made me think...

I'm a 4, which looks like a soon to be 3. So far I've put myself on buying a one bike a year budget (you know saving for retirement and stuff), and this year bought a track bike.

So far I have a road bike and a track bike. Next year I was thinking of buying a MTB, but a TT bike was looming in my sights too.

After "waking up" to racing this season I'm starting to see how damn difficult it is to go OTF in races. I doubt I'll ever be a TT guy, but would like to be able to TT to hone my skills. Should I put the MTB off for another season and try for a cheap TT build?
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