By Tom Pemberton
Known as the race of truth, cycling time trial is one of the purest forms of racing, it’s you and your bike against the clock.
In the UK, time trial races are run under the organisation of Cycling Time Trials (CTT), the national governing body for cycling time trials. Local clubs tend to organise individual races for anyone to enter. They are typically 10 or 25 miles in length, although 50 and 100 mile variants are out there for those brave or crazy enough. There are also 12 hour and 24 hour national races. As well as time trials the CTT are the governing body for Hill Climbs.
Getting Started in cycling time trials
When I started taking cycling more seriously and after joining New Malden Velo, I needed to scratch my competitive itch. I was always keen to know how fast I could go over 10 miles. NMV member Bill had put on the club Facebook group that he was going to enter a 10 mile race, just south of Leith Hill. I decided that I would join him.
On the day, I turned up to the little village hall where the race HQ was located, there was a mix of different cyclists. Varying in range and ability, with some warming up on turbo trainers and others taking an easier approach to preparation. After signing on I pinned a race number on for the first time and went off for a warm-up.
Each rider has their own start time, a minute apart. The clock starts at the time given, not when you cross the start line! I joined a queue of cyclists at the start line. Bill was a couple of riders ahead of me and we chatted to the other riders who were happy to provide advice and tips on the course to us newbies. When it came to my time, a volunteer held my bike upright whilst the time keeper counted down to my start time.
The cycling time trial race
After a couple of words of encouragement I was off and going as fast as I could. I was flat out and yet I was overtaken by a couple of riders behind me fairly quickly. Those on time trial bikes with disc wheels sounded like Tie Fighters from Star Wars! Looking back at the photo, I was in a non-tight fit cycling jersey and on my entry level road bike, not exactly the optimal set-up. The first 5 miles went by in a flash, but I was counting down the last few miles which seemed to drag. I crossed the line having put in everything I could. Bill and I rode back the HQ and after we returned our numbers and signed out, we stayed to watch the award presentation for the winners with cake and coffee provided by the volunteers. My time was 31:51 minutes, which was slower than I had hoped for but apparently everyone was slower due to the wind conditions on the day (I did not come last). Everyone, whether the fastest or slower riders shared their experiences of the race and those more experienced were able to offer their advice. Since then I have competed in 6 other 10 mile time trials, with my best time of 25:44, a marked improvement. I have also competed in the time trials organised within Richmond Park (just over 10 miles in length). It’s a good way to track your cycling progress, whilst also offering a chance to train for an event, or as part of a training programme for a tougher challenge.
Want to get involved in cycling time trials?
Want to have a go or get involved? Simply go to Cycling Time Trials: The national governing body for cycling time trials, and head to the events page. You can filter the events by region (London South/West are best for where we are located). You then need to register, which is free to all members as New Malden Velo have paid to be affiliated as a club.
Events are around £10 – £15. Entry needs to be submitted around 2 weeks ahead of the race day, so make sure you enter with sufficient time. All events now have a road bike category, along with Women and Vet categories meaning a large variety of rider types are catered for. All the courses are based outside of London and have to be on certain roads / times of days that avoid high levels of traffic. They are designed to avoid traffic lights and going across difficult junctions.