Archive | timetrials

British time trial championship experiences

The British time trial championship has been held annually since 1997. Originally a joint CTT / BC promotion, it was for a while it was also called the Circuit championship (to distinguish with long standing CTT championships of 25 miles, 50 miles e.t.c) In the past few years, it has been run solely by British Cycling to ensure the best spot in the calender so that Pro riders can make sure they can enter, and pick up any precious UCI points on offer.

In the domestic time triallist calender, this is the big one. A chance to compete against all the pros.

This year there was a certain logic to me not entering the British Time Trial Championship in Wales this July – My bike is of dubious UCI legality; I sold my only UCI compliant tribars, and it’s a hassle to get another pair. Then there is the cost of BC license, new tribars e.t.c., and I’m up in Yorkshire that week e.t.c., e.t.c. Yet, although there is a logic in not entering, I still feel a pang of regret when I see the startsheet.  – especially after learning how hilly the course is.

The startsheet shows the strength in depth of British cycling; even in the absence of Chris Froome, it’s probably one of the strongest time trial line ups in Europe.

It also shows the unique nature of the sport of cycling, that you can still rock up alongside people who you watch and admire on tv and get to partake in the same race as them.

These are some past experiences of riding the British Time Trial Championships, now organised by British Cycling under UCI rules.

2005

In 2005, I finished 14th, five minutes behind the winner Stuart Dangerfield in Penistone, Yorkshire. It was very hilly race and my first season of racing. After the first lap, I was in a ridiculously high position after storming up the hill as if it was a 5 mile prologue. I blew up spectacularly, but for one lap out of three I was riding with the best. In the absence of any expectation, I enjoyed it all tremendously. It was the first race my mother came to watch and she said unlike everyone else, I never braked to go around a corner she was watching from. I’m not sure whether she said this as criticism or as a complement.

2006

I finished near last in that race. I wasn’t in good form, and not racing much that year. I also got lost and took a wrong turn at a roundabout; at least it was a good excuse for a dismal performance. The only thing I remember about that championship was that I even turned up on the wrong day (arrived on Sat, to learn it was on the next day Sunday). Fortunately, it wasn’t too far from Oxford.

2009

The third championship was on local roads near Buckinghamshire. Bradley Wiggins, after finishing 4th in the Tour de France in July, stormed around the course to win in 1.02. I was a good nine minutes behind in 28th place; it was one of the few races I managed that year, but it was still good to participate.

2009-bttc

A pre wind tunnel position. There’s a minute right there.

2010

Wiggins, Hutchinson and an unknown club cyclist riding together.

Wiggins, Hutchinson and an unknown club cyclist riding together.

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1

Ways to improve aerodynamics for timetrials

There are many ways to improve aerodynamics. They can be incredibly expensive (e.g. new frame £5,000), very cheap (e.g. custom modification to skinsuit £50) or free (learning to ride in turtle position with head low and looking forward)

joanna rowsell

Joanna Rowsell British TT champ (f) Photo: The Trouser (aka Richard organiser of Buxton MTT) – Flickr

  • Bear in mind aerodynamics is very complicated. For example, it depends on the angle of the wind. The results of aero equipment may depend on whether you are riding into headwind or crosswind. Wind tunnel tests may not always replicate conditions you experience in the real world.
  • More aerodynamic isn’t necessarily faster. e.g. lowering your handlebars could make you more aero, but it maybe harder to put out power in that position.
  • You can be very aerodynamic without spending a fortune. Resist the temptation to buy on a credit card every product which offers to give you 20% improvements in aerodynamics (this advice is primarily intended for myself…)
  • There’s no harm in looking at the top riders who will have spent loads of time researching aerodynamics and seeing what you can adapt for your use.
  • Aerodynamics is not just about how the wind hits the body, but also how it leaves. I’ve seen positions which don’t look obviously aerodynamic, but power figures suggest they are.

Bike

Time trial frame. A time trial bike will give a very significant advantage over a road bike. This can be anything from 1-3 mph faster. See: Difference between road bike and time trial bike

Bear in mind for a time trial, weight is usually less important (unless doing hilly time trials)

To get the most from a timetrial bike, you also need to be comfortable riding in that position. Remember if you want to go faster, it’s not just about aerodynamics. Some road riders who rarely train on a TT bike notice it’s harder to get out the power when they switch to TT bike.

drag-coeff

Bike Radar try to test the aero drag of different time trial bikes

Next generation TT bikes. Every year, bike manufacturers bring out a new time trial bike with claims to be ‘at least 10% quicker’. . . There is no doubt that the latest generation of time trial bikes have made improvements in hiding cables, brakes and the like from the air flow;  whether this is as much advantage as manufacturers claim, I doubt, but it does seem average speeds are rising.  Anything sticking out, interrupts the airflow, removing that will improve aerodynamics.

  • Bear in mind, although the bike is the most obvious place to start (and spend money on),  it only accounts for around 10% of overall aero drag. By far the biggest drag is you – your body!

Position on bike

Dropping your handlebars just a few cm. Dropping your handlebars a few cm, can make a big difference to improving aerodynamics because your frontal position incurs the biggest aerodynamic drag. However beware that dropping your position will eventually compromise your power output – through making breathing more difficult. Lowering stem and handlebars requires experimentation and testing. The best is to use a power meter and controlled testing to see different speeds from different position. When I went in a windtunnel, the first thing they did was to raise the stem a few cms. They found raising tribars didn’t increase aerodrag, and most people can get more power in a higher position. This is why aerodynamics are complicated. I would never have thought to raise my handlebar position, but that is how I came out of the wind tunnel.

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13

National 50 mile TT 2014

The 2014 national 50 mile TT was held near Poole on the P418 course, and was organised by Bournemouth Jubilee Wheelers.

bottrill-skin

Matt Bottrill and bike. His skinsuit really is a ‘skin’ suit

In the men’s event Matt Bottrill (Team Drag 2 Zero) won. 2nd place was multiple 50 mile TT champion Michael Hutchinson(In Gear QuickVit). Third was current BBAR champion, Adam Topham (High Wycombe CC).  I was 4th with a time of 1.48.04 Men’s result at CTT

The women’s event held yesterday was won by Hayley Simmonds, VELOSPORT-PASTA MONTEGRAPPA in 1.58. 2with  Emily Robertson  CC LUTON (1.59) in 2nd. Women‘s results at CTT

The National 50 mile TT championship was one of my targets for this summer. Last year I finished 9th in a time of 1.49. This year it seemed to come around pretty quick. The 50 mile champs used to be later in the year, but now has been moved forward to early June. I’ve only done two 50s this year – The Circuit of the Dales and The Charlotteville CC 50 a month ago. The Charlotteville was run in near gale conditions, and I scraped a 1.54 – not that much faster than the Circuit of the Dales! Since then I’ve done a lot of training, and one 100 mile TT, which went quite well. But, I wasn’t too sure of the form I would have. Usually I get faster as the summer progresses, usually peaking in July (for TTs).

The course was mainly single carriageway with some dual carriageway. There were quite a lot of roundabouts and I spent yesterday watching a youtube video and trying to memorise the course. As it happened, it wasn’t really necessary. Even if you ‘learn’ the course – when you ride you’re never sure anyway. Fortunately, it was very well sign posted and marshalled by the promoting club and other clubs from South D.C. When there are many roundabouts you worry you might get held up – a problem for any course. But, I didn’t have any problem today and sailed through them all. There was also a patch of newly laid chippings. But, fortunately they had been bedded in, and it didn’t seem much slower than elsewhere.

A 7.40 start meant an early rise from Oxford. By the time I arrived in Poole I felt more like sleeping in the car, than doing a 50 mile TT. But, once I got on the bike, I felt fine. For a change, the weather was excellent – warm and light wind. The first 20 miles were hard. It was slight headwind and a surprising amount of climbing – nothing steep, but plenty of long drags. By 20 miles, I was averaging about 295 watts – well over average for my last 50. My 25 time looked a bit disappointing 55.21. But, the last 25 miles were faster – seemed to be a tailwind and a bit of downhill.

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3

Hounslow & District CC 100

Sunday 25th May was the Hounslow and District CC 100 mile time trial on the A31 Bentley Course. After writing an article on 100 mile pacing, training and eating – it was time to see if I could put any of the theory into practice.

Conditions were relatively good. Definitely not as bad as the last time I grovelled around the Bentley Course in the Charlotteville CC 50.. But, it was still a bit windy.

Before the race, I left a bottle by the Hen and Chicken pub. It was a good job, as I found that was where the start was, I hadn’t done this course before. The first lap was pretty good. I felt it was one of those days when you had quite good legs. Occasional looks at power meters made me back off a little. It’s hard not to go out too fast in a 100. The interesting thing is that on the fast tailwind sections, if you reduced your power from 280 watts to 240 watts, you seem to stay at the same speed anyway. I went through 25 miles in 54.53 (it was very well organised event, with times taken at 25, 50 miles and the finish.)

Timetrial-rider-daises

After previous 100s where I’d got my feeding wrong, I was trying to stick to strict schedule; so after 25 miles, I took first energy gel. The problem was that I’d taped it to the Time trial frame with sellotape. As I took it off, it exploded all other the place. I got that nasty sticky stuff on my legs, hands, bike and handlebars – pretty much everywhere apart from in my mouth. It was a good job, it wasn’t my only gel. I had a plan to take after 25 miles, but this happened to be just before a roundabout, which had rumble strips on. This made it even more difficult to to deal with. I went round roundabout with empty gel wrapper in my mouth.  Then I couldn’t decide what to do with empty wrapper. I’m not a big fan of the Rules – but I do agree with the rule about not throwing litter by side of road. I couldn’t bring myself to throw empty wrapper by road, but I didn’t want to stuff it down my skinsuit. So undecided, I ended up carrying it my hands for about 5 miles. Eventually, I threw it into a layby and made a note to pick it up after the race. But my hands were terribly sticky and for a while it felt like my fingers were glued to handlebar tips.

Apart from the exploding gel incident it was relatively incident free race. In fact, I really enjoyed the first 50 miles. I suppose ‘enjoy’ is a relative term. But, it was nice to be going at a good speed, without killing yourself – especially on the smooth tarmac parts. I went through 50 miles in 1.50.33 – almost 4 minutes quicker than last 50 mile TT.

As the miles and laps wore on, the inevitable tiredness creeped up. It was getting harder and harder to keep the power up. After averaging 271 watts, the average began to fall. But, the good thing is on the tailwind section, you could really take it easy, but still keep good speed. I saved the diminishing efforts for the hard uphill and headwind sections.

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5

Training for 12 hour time trial

At the moment I can’t decide between training for a 12 hour time trial and training to be fast up hill climbs. My training is often a mix of racing up hills, then trying to do 80 miles of endurance. Getting the best of both worlds (or perhaps failing to maximise either). Anyway, the rides are a lot of fun which is the main thing.chilterns-aldwich

The Chiltern ridge makes an excellent training area. You can go up and down the hills of the Chiltern ridge until you get tired of hill intervals, then you can take the flat roads back to Oxford. I’ve learnt not to overdo the hills. Every training ride doesn’t have to take you to the max. If you leave something in the tank, it makes the next training sessions more productive. If you really go for it, you can spend the next 7 days recovering.

Clearly defined goals are important

In cycle training the first thing is to have a clear goal of what you want to achieve. Later in the year that will be easy – peak for the end of October for a 3 and a half minute effort. But, at this time of the year, the goals are not quite as prominent. I hope to do my first 12 hour time trial this year at the end of July. But as it’s my first 12 hour, I don’t have any major expectations; I can just turn up and see what I do.

The event will be the National Championship 12 hour TT on a pan flat course in Yorkshire. In the run up to that, I will have quite a few 10s, 50s and 100s. Racing 50s and 100s is an excellent preparation for a 12 hour time trial.

Though the idea of racing 3 consecutive 100s (3* 4 hours), does put the 12 hour into context. The record for a 12 hour time trial is 317.9 miles set by Andy Wilkinson (Port Sunlight Wheelers) in 2012. (26.48 mph average)

These are a few thoughts about training for a 12 hour time trial, though I haven’t done a 12 hour yet. I may revise this post, when I’ve actually done one!

Getting the miles in

At the risk of stating the obvious, if you want to do a 12 hour time trial, you need quite a few miles in your legs, and be comfortable with riding for 5-7 hours. If you can manage 6 hours, the logic is that if you pace yourself correctly and manage food / hydration, you should be able to keep going for 12 hours.

Fortunately, I had a reasonably good winter; despite a few weeks off, I had a few 6 hour rides which provides a good winter base. In early spring, my rides were a bit shorter as I got over an injury and concentrated on short hilly time trials. But, now the exams are coming to an end, I have more time for training. The hope will be to do a 5-6 hour ride once a week.

If you don’t have such a good basis, it is good to start off with a 3-4 hour ride every 7-10 days – in addition to shorter rides during the week. A couple of months before the event, if you can make this long ride 5-6 hours it will get help you get used to the duration of the event.

Target for training

In terms of 12 hour training, I will be hoping for a couple of 300 mile weeks, possibly the odd 400 miles. It would be nice to have chance to do a really long ride, like 150 miles, that would give a lot of confidence for a 12 hour and give an idea of what it is like to ride for 7 hours.

But, you don’t need to do 300 miles every week, it could be counter productive. Recovery is still as important for 12 hour training. Like all aspects of cycle training, you also have to listen to your body and know when you are fatigued. My training schedule has built up over several years. When I started cycling, I couldn’t manage what I do now. This is why it’s hard to give concrete training plans.

Training on a time trial bike

I would say it is essential to train on the bike that you are going to be racing on. There’s no point doing long training rides on a road bike, only to find after 3 hours of the race that the TT bike is too uncomfortable.

Last year, I was in a lot of pain for a 100 mile TT so I felt to do a 12 hour, I’d have to do something radically different.

  • Firstly, I got a new saddle (Adamo Saddle review) – which is super-excellent for a long time in the TT position.
  • I also did a bit of upper body core strength – in particular the plank – for strengthening the back.

These two factors have made a big difference. I can now ride on TT bike for 6 hours without too much discomfort. It would be a shame to be in good cycling shape, but to have to give up because your back or neck can’t take it.

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3

Charlotteville CC 50 mile TT

After Saturday’s ride through a mini gale, it was more ‘gluttony for punishment’ this morning at the Charlotteville CC 50 mile TT on the Bentley course. A big field of 110 riders, plus 47 women in a separate event were on the startsheet. But, given the forecast wind and rain, quite a few thought better of it and stayed at home. I could feel proud for riding through the conditions, but I had my own moment of weakness, frantically checking the Weather forecast on Sun morning trying to work out if 0.6mm of rain is enough excuse to give cycling on a dual carriageway a miss.

two-cold-timekeepers

It was a pretty close call, but, buoyed by Saturday’s ride I thought I’d risk a drive down to Hampshire and have a go at my first ‘fast’ 50. (I’ve already done the Circuit of the Dales 50 earlier in April, but it’s not really a fast 50)

It was windy and chilly. But, not quite as crazily windy as Sat, and the forecast rain never materialised. In fact the sun, defied all predictions and came out to marginally warm up the May morning. I was off quite late at 10.50 but the A31 never seems to get too busy, whatever the time. The traffic felt quite light this morning.

The start is pretty hard. Uphill, into block headwind and some pretty ropey road surface as you get towards Chawton. The best way to start a 50 is nice and steady, but, following the logic of going harder when it’s hard – I started with a big effort, though at a depressingly low speed.

You’re never sure which is worse – battling through a headwind – or the rhythm breaking vibrations of the horizontal ‘trenches’ every 20 metres in the road. But, after negotiating the pits and rivets around the Chawton roundabout, it was time to enjoy the tailwind sailing back up to Farnham. After 12 miles, at least the road surface became smooth.

Just because you’ve written a blog post about the benefits of holding back with a strong tailwind behind, doesn’t mean you will actually listen to your own advice. Somehow after grovelling along at 22 mph – you get carried away when you start flying along smooth tarmac, it’s easy to forget you’re doing a 50 and think maybe you’ll just go really hard and enjoy the speed.  Continue Reading →

5

10 mile pacing

I’ve been riding time trials for several years, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m particularly good at pacing. Sometimes, I get it wrong, sometimes, by good luck I get it right. I’m trying to improve on this aspect quite a bit at the moment, and it’s quite fun to work out best way of measuring you’re effort.

A power meter may take a little romanticism out of the sport, but it is very useful for evaluating how you paced a race.

The one consistent thing I’ve noticed with looking at a power meter is that in races, I nearly always go off way too hard, and end up dying by the end. (and I would hazard a guess 90% of beginners do this too) Maybe it’s the hill climb masochistic thing coming to the fore. ‘start off really hard, hang on.’ – and maybe that does work for a climb like the Rake, but it’s not really the best for a 10 mile time trial, even if it does make an impressive soundbite.

alex-dowsett-back

Today, was a 10 mile TT with exceptional weather. Very windy – 20mph, with gusts of up to 30mph. Not quite as windy as Nat Hill climb 2013, but pretty close. Any windier and it would start to get pretty marginal over whether it was worth riding.

It was definitely a day to leave the Zipp 808 at home (10 races so far this year, still not been able to use the Zipp 808). But, I still used a disc and Zipp 404.

The course was the H10/17R on the A420. Not the fastest course, but local. The weather meant it was 5.5 miles to the turn (with strong tailwind) and 4.5 miles into roaring headwind.

My pacing strategy was to try keep at 300 watts on the way out, and then blast it at around 350 watts on the way back. It would feel like a sweat spot training session on the way out – and then treat it like a long hill climb on the way back. In the end, I was pretty close to my rough plan. I looked at my power meter a few times on the way out, and as a result backed off a little. On the way back, I never looked at power meter – I was concentrating on staying upright, and I have a pretty good idea how to ride a hard 10 minutes on feel.

Outleg

  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Time: 9.49
  • Average speed – 33.7 mph
  • Av. power – 305 watts.

Return leg

  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • time: 10:12
  • Average speed: 25.4 mph
  • Av. Power – 346 watts

Overall

  • Distance 10 miles
  • Time: 20.35
  • Average power of 325 watts.

The first 2 miles were at an average speed of 35mph for just 290 watts

Notes

  • It was hard to keep at 300 watts on the way out, the temptation is to go much faster. It feels like you are not making much effort.
  • I put a 56 chain-ring on, and was spinning 100 rpm in the 56*11 for a bit.
  • It would have been faster on the outleg, but, I had to come to a complete stop at first roundabout on the way out. It’s a bit of a pain having to break from 35mph to 0 – but there you go.
  • On the outleg, the average speed was 25mph. But for the first 1–2 miles of return leg, it was quite sheltered and relatively quite fast. But, then you hit an exposed part of the course, and it was time to grovel into the wind. At the last roundabout with 1.6 miles to go, I was on target for a course pb. But, that last mile or so was really hard!

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6

Kask Bambino long term review

The Kask Bambino helmet is an expensive aero helmet. Despite its price (£299) it has become quite popular, probably because of its use by Sky procycling team. The logic is that Sky must have spent quite a bit of money on wind tunnel tests. If it’s good enough for the likes of Froome and Wiggins, it must be good enough for me. I noticed Michael Hutchinson used a Kask Bambino in the 2013 10 mile TT championship. (but, I also noticed he didn’t use it in the 25, and I haven’t seen him use it since.) I’m surprised how many people are turning up to TT with a Kask in the past couple of years. I think a big reason is that they look good and much less geeky than the typical long tail pointy thing. They are also very comfortable to wear.

But, if we are a real time trial aeroweenie, should we really be basing our decisions on aesthetics and comfort? Probably not.

kask-bambino

Aerodynamics

Aero-helmets can make a big difference to improving aerodynamics in time trials. They probably offer one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of watts saved to cost.

When I went in the wind tunnel, I tested two helmets, and as a result ended up getting a Giro advantage. The Giro Advantage  However, although it came out of wind tunnel with relatively good results, I wasn’t happy with the helmet because it was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t get a proper visor to fit. I ended up gluing a visor on, which was all messy and un-aerodynamic. I liked the look and simplicity of the Kask Bambino helmet and decided to get one.

 

tejvan-201-kask-bambino

The advantage of small tail helmets is that they are said to be better in crosswinds when the wind is coming from the side. Long tails provide more surface area in a cross wind. The short tail helmet like the Kask Bambino is said to be good whatever the wind direction. This is something wind tunnels can’t replicate – they generally measure efficiency with wind coming straight on or at 7 degrees yaw angle. The second advantage of small tail helmets is that you don’t have to worry about the tail sticking up in the air. With my last long-tail helmet, I was often repositioning the helmet trying to get the tail to touch my back.

It is hard to evaluate the aerodynamic benefits of aero helmets – even if you can go to a wind tunnel. The aero benefits of a helmet depend on the riders position, body shape, wind direction. With so many variables, it is hard to ascertain exactly how much benefit this helmet is.

However, I’ve heard quite a few rumours that in wind tunnel tests, the Kask Bambino is not as good as other aero helmets. I heard someone ‘on the grapevine’ say you lose 5 watts wearing a Kask Bambino. I’ve certainly not seen any drag 2 zero rider wear a Kask Bambino. Quite a few TT riders who test aero equipment seriously don’t seem to rate the Kask Bambino.

I feel a bit bad for spending all the money on a wind tunnel and not using the most aero helmet (Giro advantage)  but choosing something which looks better. I feel the Kask Bambino may be wasting watts, so I’ve made another effort to get a visor for the Giro (from Bob Heath Visors) and I will have another go at using. However, for last two races, I still chose the Kask Bambino.

  1. Sat, there was a 16mph crosswind for a 10 mile TT, this is the conditions where a Kask should be most benefit
  2. Sun. For hilly time trial, I preferred to have comfort and not worry about long tail because in a hilly TT, you’re moving about all over the place.

However, for flat fast 10s, 25s and 50s with heading, I will probably revert to the Giro. I will save Kask for crosswinds and really hilly events.

Type of rider who benefits from short tail Kask Bambino

According to this article, short tail helmets are becoming more common in recent years. The logic is that short tail helmets are likely to be good for a wider range of athletes, even if they are not the best individual choice. It also states that short tail helmets are best for riders who can ride with low back and low head in ‘turtle’ position.

In general, “riders that don’t or can’t shrug or ‘turtle’ their head as much benefit more from a longer tail, assuming, and this is the big caveat, that they can hold their head steady in the optimal position the entire time,” Yu said. “Riders that bury their head or turtle really well tend to benefit from shorter-tail helmets.”

In a similar vein, the New Giro Selector, offers two different tails –

  • It offers a short stubby tail for tall riders who can ride with flat back.
  • It offers a longer tail for riders, who are shorter and can’t keep flat back.

This suggests that the Kask Bambino is more likely to favour a tall rider like me, who can ride with a flat back in the turtle position.

Weight

kask-bambino-weight

Without visor, the Kask Bambino is 354 grams

With visor (and magnest) Kask Bambino is 395 grams

Kask Comparison

KASK-stubby-aero-20-uni-tri-sports

Source: Article at Tri Sports

Interesting comparison. Bit bulkier at the back of the head.

Fitting

kask-bambino-tt

The Kask Bambino fits very well. There is a nice leather strap and inside the helmet you can adjust the inner strap. It is close fitting, but doesn’t box in the ears like my old helmet. Very easy to wear. Though like any helmet, fitting is a very personal thing. I’d advise trying to test before buying. I use a size Medium. Perhaps it is too comfortable. If it did squash your ears, perhaps it would be making you more aerodynamic. If I did a long time trial, I might favour the Kask Bambino just for comforts sake. I certainly couldn’t face a Giro Advantage for 12 hours.

Those pesky magnets

The last thing you expect from a helmet costing £300 is poor workmanship. But, everyone I know who bought a Kask Bambino has had the experience of magnets falling off. I thought about trying to contact Kask, but thought it would be too much hassle. In the end I bought some small magnets from www.first4magnets.com. Just annoying.

Those magnets didn’t really work, so I contacted Kask, they told me to send vizor back to

Velobrands
Unit 8 Flight Way business Park
Dunkeswell
Devon
EX144RD
and I got a free replacement. This was good though it doesn’t fit as snug as it might.

Value

The main drawback of the Kask Helmet is the price. I was looking into getting another visor (with sun shade, the visor they give you is clear). But, just an extra visor is £79.99. That really is taking the mickey mouse. You could buy a new helmet for that. It remind me of Mac charging me £400 to replace a cracked screen. Despite taking the mickey on price, they have poor workmanship, with no obvious place to get free magnet replacements. I have heard Kask are improving the glue for future models, so you may be better off if you buy in the future.

Conclusion

I don’t think Sky are wearing Kask Bambinos because they all went in the wind tunnel and found the Kask to be the most aerodynamic for them. It’s a commercial decision and sponsorship. For pro teams, whose helmet choice has to fit all in the team, the short tail is perhaps the best common denominator. But, the amateur time triallist free to choose whatever he wants, could actually be more aero than pros.

I think the Kask Bambino is a good helmet if you have no intention of going in a wind tunnel to find the optimum helmet for you. It’s good in the sense that you don’t have to worry about a tail sticking in air.

I kind of like it, but at the same time, I have a nagging feeling that it may not be as aerodynamic as some other helmet. Would I recommend buying it? That’s a tough one. If you want aerodynamics for low cost, there may be many better value aero-helmets. I have a nagging feeling you are asked to pay a premium for a product well marketed. Nevertheless, there are certain benefits, which mean I’m kind of glad to have it. It is good for hilly time trials, where you’re in and out of the saddle. A short tail seems to be better for a rider with profile like me, especially in crosswinds. However, I’m sure if I go in the wind tunnel, I would come out with a Kask not getting very good results.

Related

I initially reviewed this on my old cycling blog, last year. But have updated review, after another year of using.

10

Bristol South mega hilly

Bristol South CC Megahilly definitely lives up to its name. With 1,100 metres of climbing in 28 miles, it makes a strong claim to be the hilliest TT in the land – especially in terms of vertical ascent per distance. If I got to design a time trial course myself, it would be difficult to design a course more suited to my strengths than this 28 mile test, taking in 5 long climbs around  Wootton, Dursely, Frocester, Uley and finishing off with Stouts hill.

start-sign

Mega Hilly

The Mega Hilly begins in the historic town of Wotton on the Edge. Straight from the startline,  there is a testing climb of around 10%. It is nearly 150 meters of ascent right to the top. Though towards the end, the gradient eases off to be just a long dra.

bristol-rider

With smooth tarmac, it is tempting to go off too quick. But, after the pacing mistakes of Buxton MTT last week, I was determined to hold back and not get overexcited. At the top of the climb, you turn left for a tricky descent into Dursely. The descent was still wet from overnight rain – I took it steady, especially with tubs pumped up a bit too much. At Dursely, you turn back towards the village of Uley and a long drag along the B4066. After you exit the village of Uley, the gradient increases, and I soon found myself in the bottom sprocket 39*25.

rider-view-500

From the top of Cockadilly, you turn left down Frocester Hill. If you’re not racing, there is a fantastic view towards the Severn estuary – you can see for miles around. After a testing descent, there is a rare section of flat roads towards Easington where you do a U-Turn around a mini Roundabout. This was a chance to get low on the TT bike and pick up some seconds.

Road bike vs TT

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There were quite a few riders using road bikes for this course. Road bikes must be tempting for quite a few reasons – better braking, lighter uphill, easier to manage on the corners. But, although they can be a bit unwieldily, I think the TT machine is always going to be 1-2mph faster (TT vs Road bike). Though I’m also pretty used to the TT bike as I’ve been training on it a lot. I rode a discwheel on the back; the only concession to gravity was using an ultralight weight ‘Lightweight’ front wheel, which rarely sees action outside the hill climb season.

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Photo Mark Bradley Bristol South CC

Frocester hill

After a few miles of flat, your speed soon falls as you hit the lower slopes of Frocester hill. Frocester is a real beauty, nearly 200m of vertical ascent at an average gradient of 9%.  I once cycled a round trip of 120 miles from Oxford just to have a go at Frocester hill, it’s definitely worth a visit to this part of the world. After surmounting Frocester, you turn left and there are a few false flats before another descent through Selsley into the outskirts of Stroud.

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Buxton Mountain Time Trial 2014

The Buxton Mountain time trial is one of the hilliest time trials on the calendar. About 1,100m of climbing over 33 miles (22 miles for vets and women). This year, it was part of the CTT national time trial series, and it attracted a bumper entry with 144 riders signing up for the race. The course record was set by Stuart Dangerfield in August 2003 with a 1:22:13.

joanna rowsell

Photo: The Trouser (aka Richard organiser of Buxton MTT) – Flickr see also 2014 set of Buxton MTT

The women’s event attracted some top riders, including double world champion Joanna Rowsell. Rowsell is a track specialist and a member of the world record setting British team who clocked 4.16 for the team 4km pursuit. That’s just shy of a mind boggling 35mph (and a pretty good standard for a men’s team). But, compared to the team pursuit, the Buxton MTT is a very different kettle of fish, with average speeds of roughly half of 35 mph.

In the end, the women’s event was won by Katie Archibald (Pearl Izumi) 1:00:02, (21.98mph) just pipping teammate Sarah Storey (Pearl Izumi) into 2nd place 1:00:34. Rowsell was 3rd in a time of 1.01.38

In the men’s event, Matt Clinton (Mike Vaughan Cycles) won in a time of 1.23.23. (23.74mph) Pettinger (Sri Chinmoy CT) (me) was just 2 seconds behind in 1.23.25, and Espoir C.Fennel (PMR @ Toachim House) was third with 1.24.56.

  • 1st paracylist Rik Waddon (Para T. Paracycling Team).
  • 1st Junior James Falconer Ferryhill Whs/Mountain High (58.10)
  • Honourable mention also to 1st under 16 – Adam Hartley Velocity WD-40 1.02.01.
  • 1st Vet J.Ramsbottom (Pedal Pushers) 00:56:58, with Peter Greenwooed (Team Swift) fastest vet on target.

My Race

I had a good block of training in March and early April, and went well in the Circuit of the Dales. But, during the last week I did very little apart from a few easy miles around Kissena Velodrome in NY. I got back from NY yesterday morning, and just about managed to make myself get on rollers for 30 mins in a perfunctory attempt at a pre-race warm up. With the inevitable jet lag, I was grateful for late start of 2pm and (as last year’s winner) I started as last man off at 180. At least when racing, I felt no effects of jet lag – helped by the good weather.

2014-tejvan

Photo Buxton CC photographer

Conditions were near perfect for April. Sunny, light wind and relatively warm. I set off reasonably quick on the first lap, passing through time keeper in about 27.00 (319 watts average). After the first lap, it was a bit harder to maintain that pace, and the average speed very slowly declined. The third time up Axe Edge was particularly hard going. It’s a tough course with quite a few sharp corners and changes of gradient. I tried to increase the effort near the top of climbs so I could recover on the next downhill. It’s impossible to do a measured effort because the gradient is so variable. Where possible it’s good to try and maintain momentum from downhill onto the next incline. Though, this year, I felt a little rusty on the corners.

2 Seconds

I did hear time checks that I was up on Clinton on the first two laps. But, in the end, I finished just 2 seconds behind. 2 seconds is a little ironic as that was the exact winning margin in the National Hill Climb Championship 2013. As the old saying goes – You win some, you lose some. Cycling can all be about fine margins, though it’s rare for a 33 mile hilly TT to be decided by such a small margin.

The problem with just missing out by 2 seconds, is that you can’t help but think where those 2 seconds may have come from. Like all good cyclists, it’s very easy to analyse after a race, where it wasn’t perfect. So many excuses spring to mind – equipment, training, traffic, cornering – even the good old fashioned ‘Why didn’t you just pedal a little harder!’ – I wish I could have pedalled faster on the final hill, but I was pretty spent.

– There’s a bylaw in Cycling Time Trials that at the finish you’re supposed to shout you’re number to help the time keeper. As no. 180, I thought this was my chance to shout out ‘Oneee Hundered and eighteeeeeeee’ in the manner of  all good darts commentators. It might have been mildly amusing, but after the last effort to the finish line, I think the only ‘180’ I managed to say was heard by nobody including myself. I must admit shouting out of your number is one of those bylaws I rarely manage. I think being a hill climber must exempt you on many occasions.

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