TT - what are the biggest things you learned starting out?

Like many of you I always like to have a goal for my next season and giving Time Trialing a whirl has been appealing to me for a while, more so now considering the lack of competitor bike skills in some races I’ve been in.

I’m not completely naive to assume its just stick you head down and go for it, but for those who did make a move to TT from road racing what was the biggest thing you wished you knew upfront?

Is it all about sustained maximal power? I’m definitely more of a puncheur with a lot of matches to burn rather then one long sustained burn, am I doomed from the outset?

The most important thing is don’t go out too hard. You will always pay for that. Always. Do a lot of long intervals – 30min+ – to learn your rhythm and breathing. And don’t go out too hard. Try to negative split these practice TTs or hold the same power the whole way. And did I mention don’t go out too hard?

Consider and be skeptical of the source note: I haven’t owned a TT bike for a decade, and I never got the chance to go to Nats, but for what it’s worth I’ve beaten, or come within a few seconds, of guys who’ve been top 10 before. I’m also a brickhead who will still go out too hard sometimes, as this ride shows (though, in my defense, I didn’t decide it was an hour of power until about 40min in):


This, 100x this. Pacing is surprisingly hard to master. Figure out when you are best served by putting out more power (into a headwind, up a hill), but focus mostly on not overdoing it


dig through the TR podcast archives - lots of great info when they were training for that TT a couple of years ago

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…oh and “don’t go out too hard” :slight_smile:

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  1. Pace well and don’t go out too hard is #1, 2 and 3
  2. Train specifically for the event
  3. Ride in a position that you can hold for the duration - ride your TT bike a lot in training
  4. Details matter - don’t be lazy and leave “free” speed on the table

Note: “Details matter” doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune.

Do NOT get psyched out by the guy with $10,000 frame with $5,000 wheels and $500 derailleur cage.

DO keep your bike clean and neat. Get a helmet that fits. Wear a tight skinsuit. Work on your position so you can hold it and max your aero.


Where are you, and what length time trials are you aiming for (the UK has ones ranging from 10 miles to 24 hours)? How you train, and set up the bike depends on the distance.

Whatever the distance, don’t go out too hard! :slight_smile:

Train in your aero position, and if it’s not very aero (get advice, take pictures etc) then work on becoming more aero over time. If you are looking at long ones, prioritise ability to hold the position over absolute aeroness. Don’t pay too much attention to the pros who can create a position where they don’t actually need to see where they are going!

Don’t worry too much about the bike/wheels - the best gains for the $ are in position, skinsuit, helmet etc.
Have fun.

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Yes, “Have fun.” I found the greatest improvement in my 5 years of time trialing came from putting some clip-on aerobars on my road bike. I’ve also upgraded the wheels, but decided that from here on, I’ll continue as is and use my results as an indication of my fitness. No skinsuit, but settled on a tight-fitting, short-sleaved jersey.

I don’t shave may legs, but have been wondering if I could create a “trip line” on my legs by selective shaving. :slight_smile:

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The hardest thing to stop was going out too hard. So many times I felt great after a really good taper week and a great warm up. I started off flying, then I would fade towards the end of the event. Even though I had a power meter my mind said “I can do better than that” for the first half of each TT. I never could match it in the second half. My special trick now - only breathe through my nose for the first few minutes. It really settles me down and my power output is more consistent for the duration of the TT. And now I get much better results.

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A new bike frame is the LAST thing you need to purchase if you want to buy free speed.

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I found sustained power was really hard for me on the turbo, intervals not so much, however the tr plans have helped a lot with that in lead up to a couple of Olympic tris.
In my latest I held an average 20mph over 45 mins which is one of the fastest ride I’ve done to date, all I used was an aero road bike, clip on bars, Tri suit, aero helmet.
Don’t underestimate the handling ability or lack thereof when riding on the clip ons, takes a little while to get used to it


Thanks all and keep them coming

At the moment I’m planning on sticking some clip-ons on my Giant Propel, flipping the saddle off-set around and seeing what else I need to change. I’ll probably add the Di2 TT shifters to the extensions.
From there then spend the winter crouched in a TT position following the plans

I have a load of road aero kit so won’t go mad on the kit side, really need to tell myself I DO NOT need a TT bike until I have at least seen how I do in one.

There was some discussion before that the best plan is to do your hard vo2 / threshold sessions in your normal position to maximise your physiological gains, then do Z2/3 and maybe sweetspot workouts in the TT position to get your body used to holding itself there.

Then just start doing a few harder efforts in TT position when your first race gets closer.

(Though remember that your effective FTP will probably be different in each position so you’ll need to adjust intensity)

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Ride in the drops a lot. That will help you feel more comfortable on the TT bike – closing the hip angle and making power with your back flat. The two positions are still different, but it’s less of an adjustment if you’re spending a lot of time in the drops and then you go to the TT bike, rather than riding the hoods all the time (or if you do ride the hoods all the time, spend a lot of time with your forearms parallel to the ground and in a road-aero tuck).

  1. Be very still=aero.
  2. Getting long will reduce CdA=aero.
  3. Want to get your head as low as possible (out of wind stream).*
    *Getting your head low doesn’t necessarily mean dropping front end. Too low and shoulders/arms will be super tense and you may end up with higher head position…
  4. Learn about shrugging. Narrow shoulders.
  5. Doing all that^^^ for 5 minutes is one thing. Can you do it for an hour? Or for what ever length event you are targeting? Doing all that^^^ in Z2 is one thing. Holding position at threshold for an hour or whatever threshold time you are targeting is another. So train in position, at power at duration a lot.