Competition - time trialling

Competition - time trialling

Often called the 'race of truth' , time trialling is all about one rider racing against the clock. For many club cyclists in Britain, time trialling is their introduction to racing.

Often called the 'race of truth', time trialling is all about racing against the clock. For many club cyclists in Britain, time trialling is their introduction to racing. Riders are set off at 60-second intervals, and the rider who completes the course in the shortest time (or covers the greatest distance in the 12 or 24 hour period) is the winner. In the UK, the Road Time Trials Council (RTTC) governs time trials and events are organised by local racing clubs.

The goal and attraction is always seeking to beat your own 'personal best' time for the distance

The standard distances are:
  • 10 miles
  • 25 miles
  • 50 miles
  • 100 miles
  • 12 hours
  • 24 hours
In recent years there has been a move away from the standard distances, partly because of problems in finding suitable roads without traffic lights or hazardous junctions, or too much traffic, and partly because there had been a worrying tendency to using increasingly busy main roads as riders endeavoured to reduce their times with the aid of fast traffic flow.

Now there are many competitions on more 'sporting' (hilly) courses which test the riders' abilities much more and riders are more concerned about how well they do compared to each other rather than purely concentrating on speed.

Fields of up to 120 riders are usually permitted and, unlike road racing, competitors must ride 'alone and unassisted'. They are not allowed to take pace or shelter in the slipstream of another rider except in team events. Here two, three or four (or whole teams of nine riders in the Tour de France) race together, taking it in turn to keep the pace high at the front of the group while their team mates take a bit of a breather in their slipstream. The team must all ride at a similar pace as the their time will be recorded on the third or last rider.

Many clubs hold local 'club events' on midweek evenings during the summer at 10 and 25 miles. The longer 'open' events are usually held on early on a Sunday morning before there is too much traffic on the road.

Newcomers are advised to use a more regular 'road bike', perhaps with the addition of 'aero-' or 'tri-bars'

Many riders choose to use specialist machines, designed to minimise wind resistance and help them achieve maximum speed. However such machines are very limited in their usage, and newcomers are advised to use a more regular 'road bike', perhaps with the addition of 'aero-' or 'tri-bars' until they decide whether to get into the sport.

The majority of riders know that they are unlikely to be event winners - the goal and attraction for is always seeking to beat your own 'personal best' time for the distance.

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