Archive | timetrials

Aero Coach session

Recently, I visited Newport velodrome to have aerodynamic testing with Aero-Coach, a company offering aero-testing for cyclists.

A position from 2010 pre-wind tunnels

A position from 2010 pre any wind tunnels. It’s hard to imagine winning races with this position and equipment.

I visited the Drag 2 Zero wind tunnel in 2011. When I came out of the tunnel, I was noticeably faster. Previously my position was not very optimised, so it was relatively easy to go faster. Five years later and the science of  aerodynamics in cycling has progressed quite a lot. It is noticeable by the way times are falling. Times which used to be good enough to win an open, may now only be good enough for the top 5, even top 10. You hear on the grape vine of people doing 280 watts for a 19 minute ten mile time trial and things like that. I often felt last year I was losing out to people who had a better optimised position. Last year, I was stuck waiting for a new skin suit and didn’t help myself by doing National 100 with round bottles on the seat tube and another on the down tube.

Anyway, this year, I felt it was time to book a session with Aero Coach and see if I could catch up some lost time. It’s a pretty smart set up, you use a power tap discwheel and just ride around the track and they measure CdA from knowing speed and power. I don’t know exactly how it works, I was happy just to ride around the black line and leave calculations to others. I have toyed with trying to become an expert on self-calculated cdA, but I don’t have time / am reluctant to invest in the knowledge, and don’t trust myself to get it right given so many variables affecting data. In the field of marginal gains, you need to be pretty switched on. Continue Reading →


H10/ 8 on Bentley

Today was a 10 mile time trial on the Bentley Course (H10/8) on the A31. It is quite local and the course I do most frequently. I’ve been riding for several years. I started off in mid 21s in 2005, then went down to 20s and for a long time have been trying to get a 19. The funny thing is that as I get faster, the position in the races stays the same. If anything it’s harder to win with a mid 19 these days, than when I used to do mid 20s. Time trial speed has just increased a lot in the past couple of years. I looked at past results on the H10/8 stretching back to 2005. I have finished 2nd at least five times, but have only won one event (with a 20.21 in 2013).

Yesterday, I was at Newport Velodrome to have some aero testing with Aero Coach, trying to catch up with those who have really worked on their position. It was a good experience, I may write about later in week.


The wind was so light, I rode Zipp 808

Continue Reading →


Breaking the 1 hour barrier 25 miles / 40Km


alf-engers ,

Alf Engers – set a competition record of 49 minutes 24 seconds for the 25 mile TT  in Sept 1978. (before tribars)

There was a time when breaking the hour for 25 miles / 40km was a very prestigious target for time triallists. A 25mph barrier for 1 hour was a benchmark which required considerable effort to break.

Modern technology – tri bars, aero frames, discwheels aero helmets have all helped bring the goal of a sub 1 hour 25 mile TT within the reach of more club cyclists. Also, riding on courses with passing traffic helps because there is a positive drag effect from passing cars. In fact you could argue that a sub 50 minute 25 mile TT is the new hour challenge.

But, nevertheless, the one hour barrier remains an important goal for many and breaking the hour for the first time is definitely a good feeling.

There is some dispute about the first person to actually cycle under an hour for 25 miles. Some suggest the first person to break the hour for 25 miles was Alo Donegan in 1934. However, because of uncertainty over course distances e.t.c. it doesn’t have the lustre of say Ray Booty’s sub four hour 100 mile TT. Since 1934, the 25 mile record has steadily fallen. Just this weekend, Movistar Pro Alex Dowsett broke the 3/4 of hour barrier setting a new course record of 44:29 – 33.72 mph on fast course of the E2/25. That’s an average speed of close to 34 mph. Continue Reading →


Time trials on the A4

The A4 road from Reading towards Bath has a long history of time trials. Time trials have been held on different sections for perhaps over 100 years. It goes right back to the early days of getting up at the crack of dawn and setting off  surreptitious in all black pretending to be out for solo training ride.

In the days before national championships, the Bath Road Club 100 was seen as one of the premier time trials in the country.


Click to enlarge. Cycling article from 1976

It was in the Bath Road Club 100 that one of the great cycling time trial records of all time was set on this part of the A4. Back in 1956, Ray Booty rode the first sub four hour 100 on the A4 Bath road, running through Pangbourne, Shillingford and Abingdon. Booty set a time of 3hr 58min 28sec. 11 minutes ahead of the second-placed finisher, Stan Brittain

In the days when British Cycling was distinctly an amateur affair, the Daily Record covered the achievement with “Booty the incomparable, the incredible, the indomitable”

After the race, I spoke briefly to Jim Burgin, long time stalwart of London West Cycling Association who remembers in early 1960s, time trials starting on Pangbourne Lane – no roundabout, just T junctions with riders able to enter the road, that had an incomparably different level and type of traffic. Continue Reading →


Charlotteville CC 50 mile TT 2016

The Charlotteville CC 50 mile TT is held on the A31 Bentley course. Today, the weather was unseasonally warm. Good conditions for a time trial, just a light southerly wind.


I haven’t done any ‘flat’ time trials this year, though the A31 has a few long drags which take the edge off your average speed, but give a little encouragement to those who don’t mind the odd lump.

I started well hydrated because I imagined it would be quite thirsty work in the heat. I rode with a 750ml bottle between the tribars. I did toy with running a single chainring for this race. But, didn’t want to risk taking off the front dérailleur on the bumpy A31. I’m investigating a good chain catcher or, even better, a narrow/wide chainring (56 5 arm bot for Dura Ace Quark pm). Last time I did a 100 mile TT on this course, I DNF due to tribars coming loose so you have to make sure everything is well tightened. There are innumerable horizontal ridges in the road which make it quite uncomfortable and lots of clunking. Continue Reading →


Shap Fell hill climb 2016

It is the first hill climb of the year, though the nine mile slog from Kendal to the top of Shap on the A6, never feels like your traditional hill climb. It was also my first race under 25 miles. I haven’t done any 10 mile TT’s yet to gauge efforts.

The important thing for Shap hill climb is the wind direction. The wind from the south makes it “fast”. The wind from the north makes it painfully slow.

Photo Kenny Roberts Photo: Kenny Roberts (2015). I used same wheel and bike combination Zipp disc, and lightweight front wheel without deep section.

Driving over to Kendal, it was quite wet and blustery, but fortunately the weather cleared up for the race, just leaving a nice strong tailwind. Setting off from north of Kendal, I was soon nearly in my top gear of 56*11. That’s a proper hill climb when you can go at 30mph plus. However, even a strong tailwind doesn’t get you up a gradient of 3-10%. The speed still plummets when the road gets steep. Although the average gradient is 3%, there is a considerable bit of flat and also downhill sections, so it means there are some more testing gradients and a lot of variable power efforts. It also goes on for nine miles. With a tailwind, the climb is a rough approximation to a sporting 10 mile time trial. With the wind at your back, I’m always a little uncertain whether to get low or to sit up and benefit from the wind. But, I was on my tribars for most of the ride, apart from the last tricky descent where there was a strong sidewind before the last steepest section to the line. Continue Reading →


Beacon R.C Little Mountain Time Trial

Today was Beacon Roads Mountain Time trial. 39.5 miles, including two tough climbs. The first 16 miles is rolling, then the second lap gets more hilly. The last climb of the day is Ankerdine, pretty steep on a TT bike when you’ve already raced 34 miles.

My last race was Buxton CC Mountain Time trial, nearly a month ago. It’s quite a long break from racing and I wasn’t sure how I’d go. Riding around a bumpy velodrome in New York at 22mph for an hour is a poor preparation for real racing.

The weather was decent, though colder than a month ago in Buxton, a northerly wind making it a little difficult in places.

My warm up was pretty good. I use nopinz arm bands, custom designed for super thin arms. They are easy to use than old fashioned safety pins. Though for some reason once I put the number in, I put them in my jacket pocket ‘to put on later’. Everything was going well with warm up. At five minutes to the  start time, I was heading off to start, when for some reason, something jolted my memory and realised I’d left arm bands in a jacket pocket back in my car. It was time for quick choice – do the race without armbands and get disqualified or do a quick u-turn ride 500m to car, get arm bands and have a 50% chance of missing my start time. I felt like a gamble so turned round sprinted back to car, got out armbands and sprinted back to start line. I arrived and the guy said 1 minute to go. But, I still had to get my pusher off to zip up my skin suit (it’s impossible to do on your own), then it was squeezing the arm bands on. With 15 seconds to go, they were just about in place. Just time to tuck socks into overshoes and it was 5 seconds to go. It was a close call, and I just made it. Thanks to pusher off who helped just in the nick of time. Continue Reading →


Buxton Mountain Time Trial 2016

Buxton Mountain Time trial is a long running time trial which features a lot of climbing (1,100m) over the 33 mile course. In recent years, there has been a constant growth in people riding the event. I think this year was a record entry with 181 riders entered across the different categories. It is also the second round in the National RTTC Classic time trial series. It is also part of Spocco NW – which almost makes you want to move to the Peak District


I tend to go quite well in this event, because with all the climbing it is a time trial which favours the hill climbing types (i.e skinny people). The major climb from Longnor up Hollinsclough Rake is a good couple of miles. But, unlike hill climb events, what goes up has to come down too, and there are quite a few fast descents too, especially when today there was a strong tailwind going down.

It is my first national level race of the year, and a major target of the time trial season. A recent cold, took the edge of this target, but I don’t know how much difference it made.

I’ve ridden Buxton MTT amidst snow drifts piled high on the side of the road. But, today, was one of those early spring days, with great weather and for the first time this season, riding in shorts – which meant digging out the old razor last night and pondering the recurring question of the best way to shave the legs. Mind you – with shorts that go down to the knees and trip strips which go to just below knee, I could get away with just shaving knees. But, that might look a bit weird… Continue Reading →


Maidenhead 29 mile TT Henley, Marlow

This weekend was a difficult choice between – Banbury Star 23 mile TT – and Maidenhead 29 mile TT. Banbury Star has Sunrising hill, but I chose Maidenhead because it is my local training roads, and I can just about manage to cycle there. Given that it is Mother’s Day, I think a third option might have been to head north and explain my delayed Mother’s Day Card, but it was too late, and I stuck with racing down south.


From Oxford to Frieth ‘as the crow flies’ is 21 miles – given that the weather was -1 degrees on waking up, it was a close decision to cycle rather than drive. But, I’m glad I chose to cycle in the end, it wasn’t quite as cold as I feared and it was a good way to stack up some miles. 90 in total, which is the furthest distance this year.

The Maidenhead and District CC 29 Mile TT goes from Frieth to Stokenchurch, Christmas Common, Henley, Marlow to Frieth. It is not particularly hilly, more a few long drags, 370m of climbing over 29 miles. There was quite a variety of entrants, with a few hardy souls tackling the course on tricycles, there were also a few 2-up teams, including a two teams from Gregarios CC. Continue Reading →


North Road Hardriders TT

The North Road Hardriders TT is a well established early season classic. It has been promoted by local clubs since 1939, with the North Road CC taking responsibility for promoting since 1955. Out of interest, the North Road CC were established in founded in 1885 to ‘promote fast and long distance cycling on the Great North and other Roads’. 1885 is a long time ago, though the Hardriders TT is far removed from fast racing up the flat and traffic laden A1…


The Course

The course is a series of twists and turns, running on small roads north of Potters Bar, passing through villages like Essenden. The terrain is best described as ‘lumpy’ with several short sharp climbs. It is course best suited to a ‘puncheur’ – there are no smooth long climbs, but a series of ups and downs. The first 15 miles, feels like a very slow rollercoaster, there are quite a few 90 degree turns and frequent dips and climbs. On the downhill you try to pick up as much speed as you dare – to carry you up the other side of the hill. It is the kind of course, where you can go from 45mph to 10mph on a regular basis. Continue Reading →