Time trials: a moment of truth and arguably the purest form of cycling. One human against the clock attempting to pedal their bikes as fast as possible against one thing that remains constant – the passage of time.
Time trialing requires constant focus and attention and pushing deep into the pain cave. Some people love it – most hate it.
Last week, America’s sweetheart of cycling Evelyn (Evie) Stevens set a new women’s UCI world hour record on the 333.33 meter covered velodrome in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She set a new mark of 47.98 km. That’s over 29 miles per hour.
I repeat: over 29 miles an hour for an hour!
Besides going faster than a school slow zone, a lot of factors go into an effort like that: how aerodynamic she is on the bike, the temperature inside of the velodrome, her starting pace and what power she’s able to sustain for that duration, her nutrition and hydration, etc.
As with all time trials, pacing is critical. So is the ability to stay on the razor’s edge of discomfort and producing power.
While you may not be attempting an hour record any time soon, Evie’s attempt creates an awareness of what goes into becoming a good time trialist. Below are a few tips:
Practicing in your time trial position and get as comfortable as possible in the most aerodynamic position as possible. You’ll want to get out on your time trial bike at least once a week, if not more. You can bet Evie’s been putting in some saddle time in her time trial position.
PACING, pacing, pacing!!! You may feel good and fresh from the start but your perceived effort lags behind your actual power. It’s important to remember: you want to maintain the highest power you can over the set duration – not in the first five minutes. Having a power meter is a great tool to accurately measure your effort. Without it, you’ll be guessing how hard you’re going and can often over or under shoot the effort you should be able to hold.
Focus and use positive self talk. Time trials are uncomfortable. You are at your limit for the amount of power you can produce for an hour. It’s also extremely hard to focus for that long of a time period without your monkey mind taking over. Focusing on your breath and using positive self talk such as, “better, faster, stronger” can help you stay in the zone.
Good nutrition before, during and after. You are what you eat, and time trial day is no exception. If you want to be a champion, you have to pay attention to all of the details like a champion – especially nutrition and hydration. Beforehand, you’ll want to eat foods that are light and easy to digest. Research and experiment with what nutrition and hydration strategies work for you and practice them beforehand. ALP Cycles highly recommends Stacy Sims at OSMO Nutrition for products and fueling and drinking guidelines.
Whether you’re attempting an hour record or doing a local time trial series this spring or summer, practice, pacing, self-talk and focus can all come together on race day to produce your best possible result.
Good luck out there!
ALP Cycles Coaching is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.
Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Roading racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.