10 Ways to a Slower Time Trial

We want to entertain, inform, and make you a better rider – we’re nice like that.  So, why on earth are we telling you how to ride slowly? It’s simple – failure helps us learn. Learning from others’ failures is even better; it saves us time and energy. In this latest post in our Starting Time Trialling series, we explore some of the ways you can sabotage your time trialling performance.

  1. Starve to save grams

    A lighter rider climbs faster, but on the flat weight only makes a slight difference. On the other hand, running out of energy or dehydrating ensures a terrible result.

  2. Avoid warming up

    You only have so much energy, so why waste it before an event? Cold muscles perform badly, and your cardiovascular system needs time to warm up. If you haven’t built up a light sweat, you’re cold and your performance will show it.

  3. Wear baggy clothing

    Baggy clothing acts like a parachute, but instead of slowing your progress towards the ground, it slows your progress towards the finish line. Also, remember that a loose and flapping race number will add precious seconds to your time.

  4. Point your aerobars downwards

    Previously, in Starting Triathlon - Aerobars, we discussed how aerobars can save you more time than any other item of clothing or equipment. Point your aerobars downwards and you can add the time back onto your result.

  5. Choose the wrong wheels

    Deep-section wheels can save you a bucket-full of seconds. But if it’s a particularly windy day, you’ll waste energy and time fighting a deep-section front wheel. On the flip side, assuming you’re riding a flat course without horrendous crosswinds, deep-section or disc rear wheels almost always save you time. 

  6. Under or overinflate tyres

    Underinflated tyres have a greater rolling resistance, which slows you down. Overinflated tyres lose contact with rough road surfaces, effectively bouncing off the road and reducing your forward momentum.

  7. Start off as hard as you can

    Choosing the right riding pace is a skill that takes time to perfect. If you start off too hard, you’ll blow, lactic acid will attack your muscles, and you’ll crawl to the finish line.

  8. Ride on the tops

    If you ride on the tops, your body is upright, and your legs are having to drive a wall (your torso) into the wind. On the flipside, you can lose a respectable amount of time using your aerobars on steep climbs.

  9. Over gear

    Big gears equal big speed, right? Yes, if you’ve got the power to push them without reaching exhaustion. Mashing a big gear is - unless you are superhuman - likely to slow you just as much as spinning like a hamster.

  10. Freewheel

    Coasting or freewheeling gives you a rest. A time trial is not for resting, it’s for riding hard. Get your pacing right, and you’ll have no need to rest along the way.

Bonus tip: if you really want to sabotage your performance, listen to your inner voice telling you how hard riding is and simply give up.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s article. Be sure to check out some of our other posts on starting time trialling, starting triathlon, and women’s specific bike fit issues. If you really want to improve your cycling skills and performance, check out Simply Road Cycling, which is packed with hints and tips to help you become a better rider.

Photo by frank mckenna