When to start training TT outdoors before race

Hi - I have a 70.3 (first triathlon) coming up in a little under a month from now, but I have been training indoors on my tri bike since November. I’ve never ridden my tri bike outdoors, and was wondering when I should start getting in miles to practice handling and maintaining efforts without ERG mode. In my area, the landscape is rolling so I’m not sure how descents would impact power targets if I try to do workouts outdoors. I’m currently doing the high volume full distance plan, and feel like my fitness has been increasing pretty steadily throughout this season.

Do you have any regular TT races or a series in your area? That would be a good place to start. I have one every week in my area (two venues, alternating weekly).

Hmm… I’m not too sure as I am relatively new to cycling as well (~1 year). I’ll be in the Maryland area, but there’s usually always heavy traffic until you head west towards the Appalachians. I’ll be able to head out to the race location about two days before the race, where I plan on riding part of the course beforehand.

Have you ridden a tt bike or clip ons before @btsaubt ?
When I was brand new to them and had the courage of youth I fitted clip ons the day before a club tt and was fine but now I’m older despite being a old hand, I think things through more. I need a ride or two solo just to get use to the handling, then a couple of weekly club tt’s (intermixed with more solo practice) before a bigger event just to feel as psychologically comfortable/confident as I did when I was younger :rofl:

Yes, you want to ride your bike outdoors if for nothing else to know how it handles and you have a feel for the speed in the aero position, especially if the course has any technicality. I also find that while my power indoors vs outdoors on the road bike is nearly the same except for sprints, it’s nowhere near the same on the TT bike.

Where in MD are you?

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I’ll be in the Gaithersburg area, but plan on racing Eagleman 70.3 in June

The only outdoor TT riding I had done was about a mile from the bike shop to my apartment lol… I actually just got my first road bike last May, and switched to a TT bike for indoor training back in November.

I’m a little further north in Columbia, so I can’t help with good routes. I can recommend western Howard County though. I ride my TT bike out there all the time.

I would also recommend getting the Garmin Varia if you don’t have one. You have less visibility, and your focus is different when you are in the aero bars, and it really helps me be less stressed about knowing when cars are coming behind me.

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Depending how confident you are then you probably want to get out sooner than later on some quiet road to get use to it. Then maybe some club TTs before your Tri. Good luck :slightly_smiling_face:

Do your long endurance rides outside and not worry about power dropping on descents. It’s gonna be the same thing while you’re racing.

You’ll find the power fluctuates a lot more outside, as does your cadence since you are constrained by discrete gear changes and different grades, wind.

Don’t overthink it.

I’d aim to go outside on your TT bike half a dozen times at least before your A-race. I always struggle to replicate trainer power when out on the road at the start of the season, but the more I ride outside, the closer they get. Last 25m TT race (Apr), I was ~20W down on the power I have been holding on the trainer fairly comfortably for SS sessions. When I look at my power file, its got too much variation due to undulations, and just difficulty holding a consistent power. It sounds daft, but during a race, on an undulating course, with other riders and turns… its not easy. The difference between AP and NP for me was a lot greater than for the top finishers.

I would get out on the bike as soon as possible. There is no guarantee you can hold the same power outside as you can on the trainer until you try it, in the best case, you may even find you could hold more power outside, so basing your pacing purely on indoor riding would mean leaving watts on the table.

The intertia is also different outside compared to on a trainer and I know for me personally, it took quite a bit of outdoor riding to be able to hold stable power on flats around FTP as the pedal stroke just feels different compared to on a static trainer. I could do it on a climb, but holding FTP or even zone 3 on a flat road was far harder. With practice now it is no problem.

Not to mention the handling aspects. I know when I first jumped on a TT bike I was very nervous taking corners even though I was a good handler on a road bike, it is completely different when you have to see where you are going, look out for pot holes and also concentrate on holding a power number.