Tips for riding a 12 hour time trial

I have only ridden one 12 hour, so  there is still much to learn. But, these are some thoughts on training, racing and preparing.


  • Most of my training for past few months has been training at just below threshold. Quite fast on a time trial bike. Perhaps 80% of FTP.
  • Training on a time trial bike is really essential. It’s not just the legs but holding the position that is hard in a 12 hour. Remember in training, you move around much more than in race.
  • I hoped to do quite a few 5 hour rides / 100miles – one per week. But, I rarely got time, so mostly did 2-3 hours, with the odd 4 hour ride. However, I am able to train during the week so was often averaging 200-300 miles a week, mostly at a pretty good intensity. I had quite a few breaks this year due to injury, illness, holiday. On average one week off during every month. I could have had a higher training load, but maybe forced rest helped too.
  • Definitely worth avoiding becoming a complete mile-muncher, once a month, a lighter week will complement the heavier weeks when you push the mileage.
  • This month June has been an increase in training intensity, with 1,200 miles in the 25 days of June before the race. During this time I did no intervals, but just worked on that time trial training intensity, with the 12 hour in mind.
  • In June, I did my first 100 mile rides of the year. Two in training and one in a race. My longest ride was 103 miles.  To ride over 100 miles was good for confidence. It is also good practise for spending time on the saddle, where you learn a few things (e.g. feet becoming tight in shoes. I don’t think it is necessary to do 6-7 hour rides of slow intensity, unless you have the time and inclination. It was the plan to do a couple of 6 hour rides, but time never allowed.
  • When training, try to replicate the set up of the race, e.g. same water bottles, same feeding. I don’t use race wheels, or aero helmet, but apart from that it’s fairly similar. I try to plan routes which are flattish and minimal stopping.

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Redmon CC – 25 mile time trial

In recent years, I haven’t done many 25 mile time trials. But, this was the second of the season. The previous one was Newbury RC H25/1 (51.54)

Like last week, conditions were very good. Warm – 21 degrees, very low wind and low air pressure; it would have been hard to have better weather conditions. I have been training quite a lot in past two weeks with National 12 hour TT and National 100 in mind. Two century rides in the past 8 days. Although a lot of miles, I haven’t been doing any hill intervals for quite a few weeks.

Last week, 15 mins pre race, I was scrambling around in the car for an allen key and had to dig one out of a saddle bag, right at the bottom. So I went to local bike shop and bought a set of allen keys – specifically to live in my car boot. It was a great idea, though I managed to leave this set of allen keys at home and I didn’t have any allen keys to hard. I warm up on training wheels, then with 20 mins to go, put on racing wheels. The problem is that the Zipp 808 are much wider than any other wheels, so the brakes were rubbing. I looked for a fellow competitor who might help. Number 71, my minute man was making a last minute change to his shoe cleats (so it wasn’t just me), but he still found time to dig out a small multi-tool and I was able to undo the brakes and was free to ride.

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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.

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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

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