How to Pace for A 12km Time Trial?


I’ve been preparing for some gravel grinders this Spring/Summer, but found there will be some short Time Trials in my area, specifically, monthly Thursday night 12km time trials April-August, and that sounds pretty fun! While this is near me, it is far enough away that I am not familiar at all with the course/city, so I don’t know how hilly it may be.

If I get a power meter, which I’ve been considering independent of this, should I just aim for my FTP? The time trial will take less than an hour, so aiming for a steady FTP-ish number seems right?

And, if I don’t have a power meter, I suppose, just go hard but something I think I can sustain for 7.5miles I suppose.


I have a PM, and on a course that distance I would still primarily pace using RPE. Maybe checking power occasionally to corroborate what I’m feeling, or to make sure I’m not spiking too much on climbs or coming out of corners. More often than not, if the power is lower than it “should” be for the RPE, it’s not that I need to go harder, it’s that I’m having a bad day for whatever reason and just don’t have the legs.

7.5 miles is likely to take you 15-20 minutes, which means you “should” be able to do the whole thing over FTP, maybe ~105% or a bit higher if you’re fast enough to be closer to 15 minutes. But “should” and “can” can be very different! Particularly if you’re not used to doing sustained efforts in TT or drops position. For the first one I would just set off at something that feels like threshold, reassess at halfway and if it feels like you can up the intensity a bit then go for it. You’re almost certainly going to go out too hard and blow up a few times, this is much more common than the opposite. All part of the learning process, and doing the same course regularly is a great way to figure out what a well paced effort feels like.

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With a PM and if variable terrain, I’d be using bestbikesplit - if flat, I’d be at 105-110% (ish) of FTP.

If no PM, I would start off at what I consider to be sweetspot and rise gradually throughout. Go to hard and you’ll hemorrhage time towards the end.

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Often time trial courses will have a single Strava segment - if you can find that you can see what kind of power other riders were putting out, how varied the gradient is, etc. Have a look at a wind forecast too so you know which bits will need the most effort to maintain pace. A bit of research can pay dividends.