WHAT ARE TIME TRIALS?
Time Trials are ridden as a test against the clock … and yourself. They can vary in distance usually starting at 10 miles* but sometimes less, like our novice events held in March and with many different courses to choose from locally and nationally. The principle is simple you are timed to see how fast you can cover the distance.
The tester (the term ‘testers’ is used to describe a rider) can have a variety of challenges and choose to travel to faster courses (A surprising rule allows courses to start at a higher altitude than the finish!) At all events there is always a range of experience and age (12 to "I lost count when I got past 70") and ability and nobody ever looks down on you so don't be scared to give it ago. In fact some of the best Testers will encourage you as they fly past with "well done" "dig in" or "get out of the way"! If you are under 16 you'll need a parental consent form.
At the HQ you sign up and you are given a number. If you are number 1 you start at 1 minute past the start time, number 10, 10 minutes past and so on so that riders start of at one minute intervals. Having warmed up you make your way to the start, trying to avoid punctures and mechanicals. ( A mechanical refers to something going wrong usually with your bike. Worth learning as it's the best excuse to have when you are back at HQ, "I was fine up until catching an lady on her shopping bike and then I had a mechanical ... I couldn't get my bell to work")
You should arrive at the start about 5 minutes early (late ... and if they can find a slot for you the time difference is added to you finish time!). Riders are set off usually at 1 minute intervals. When the previous rider has set off you pull up to the start 'line'. With 30 seconds to go a stranger will appear and try to grab your bike off you. In fact he is the 'pusher-off' and could become your best friend not just because of the intimacy of the situation. He holds your bike so you can sit on your saddle, cleat in and get ready to go.
You are given a count down and on go your pusher will give you a push to get you off on your way some give a real good shove, others seem to just let go so it's usually best to get pedaling quickly on the word go! Then you race out and race back to the finish as though someone was after you with a machete. It is nice if you can shout out your number as you cross the line (in fact a chequered flag at the roadside), but if , like me, you think you are taking your last breath, then don't worry, the timekeepers read your number!
San Fairy Ann encourages anyone to try a Time Trial at the Wednesday evening club events run every week from April to August. Novices are encouraged to contact the Time Trial or an Assistant Time Trial Secretary in advance of attendance to enable advice, guidance and the provision of a chaperone service for their first event. Entry is on the line on the evening events, so, to compete you can just give it a go. Club kit or plain cycling kit needs to be worn (no pro-cycling team kits please unless you are one, and no short sleeved tops like those used in Triathlons). Any bike will do with a rear working light fitted, and please wear a helmet. Some testers will be on expensive TT bikes with all the gear and others will look as though they happened to be passing - it doesn't matter - you've only yourself to beat!
For those already competing, it’s always worth getting clarification on the odd ‘nuance’ here and there, one common misunderstanding is the difference between a ‘Club’ event and an ‘Open’ event. In essence, anyone can ride a Club event and some of these events may form part of a wider club competition or series. An ‘Open’ event costs a little more to enter and requires an official entry form to be completed and submitted a couple of weeks in advance – and you must be a fully paid up member of a cycling club. Open events can be hosted by any club and SFA host a couple each year on local courses!
If you need help in entering an Open event because it can be a bit confusing first time please ask a member of the club. There is lot's more to know but for beginners it is better to keep it simple and give it a go. You will find that when you are on your bike it is not very sociable - when you have finished and get back to the HQ the place is a buzz of discussion, excuses and relief as we wait for the results!
* Standard distances are 10, 25, 50 and 100 with 12 and 24hrs that measure your distance rather than your time! Most people probably stick to 10's and 25's, at least until they are 'hooked'! Having standard distances means you can attempt to get a PB (personal best) but there are none standard distances as well.
For lot's more detail check out the Governing Body webpages (We race under CTT regulations, not UCI and there are important differences to worry about only if you get serious!) https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/