Whitewebbs Cycling Club

A Guide to Time Trials


Time Trialling or, as the French would say “La Contra Le Montre” The Race of Truth Man, or Woman, and machine against the elements and the clock. A race in which teams or individuals cover a set distance or time and the winner is the rider with the quickest time or furthest distance.

So why is it called the race of truth? Well, unlike road racing there is no slipstreaming, no sitting on the wheel of another rider and saving as much as 30% of ones energy. One of the greatest appeals of time trialling is that more often than not it is the strongest rider who wins.

One of the most famous time trials is “the hour record” and this record was held, up until recently by one of Britain‘s most famous time triallists and Olympians, Chris Boardman MBE. The hour record is achieved by riding around a cycle track (velodrome) unpaced for 1 hour to record the maximum distance one can. The man who‘s hour record Boardman broke, was Belgian legend and reputed to be the greatest cyclist who ever lived, Eddy Merckx.

However, a typical time trial is either 10 or 25 miles and probably the most popular, is the “25 mile time trial”. Just like the magic of the 4 minute mile on the athletics track so to has the “25” got a certain amount of mystique to it. Getting under the hour for a “25” is seen by many club cyclists as the ultimate achievement. However, the record today stands at 45 minutes and 57 seconds and this was done by Chris Boardman in 1993.

In a typical time trial riders set off at 1 minute intervals, head out to the turn and return to close to where they started and their time is recorded by an official time keeper. Drafting or taking pace is not allowed. When all the riders are finished, times and positions are calculated, the rider with the quickest time is the winner.

To compete in a time trial it is best to join a cycling club that is affiliated to the CTT.



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