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[Time Trialing] Owning the “Race of Truth”

Rod Race of Truth brighterThe Race of Truth.

Just hearing that can be intimidating.

Think about it. We race to find out things about ourselves. About others. About how our present selves compare to others.

In a road race, there are so many factors. Reactions to other racers play a huge role. It’s not all about you, your ability to suffer, and your engine.

Bad position, bad timing, or bad luck can all mean the difference between winning and losing.

But the Race of Truth is different.

It’s so simple – Just you, your equipment, and the course.

Ideally, your brain receives input from the course and feedback from your body and regulates the effort accordingly. Your equipment then responds to your body and carries you either faster or slower through the course.

No drafting, no worrying about the tactics of others, no attacks to respond to.

It’s just a matter of you going as fast as you possibly can. Exploiting every bit of speed possible over the course you have been given. Then you wait to see where your best stacks up against all the rest.

So what makes some people great at this event and causes others to dread and/or fear it?

Let’s break it down into parts.

Part one: The Brain

  • Controls pace/effort
  • Controls breathing
  • Controls cadence
  • Controls pedal stroke
  • Controls shifting
  • Controls steering
  • Controls body position
  • Is your biggest opponent to overcome

As you can see, the brain plays a huge role in a solid time trial. It is constantly receiving feedback from the environment, the body, and the bike. The brain should then be making precise decisions based off that feedback in order to achieve the goal – maximum speed.

Do not become a person who tries to block everything out. Instead, become very analytical about the information your brain is receiving and use it towards maximizing your performance.

The brain is programmed to try and minimize suffering. To be a solid TT specialist, you must learn to overcome and re-wire your brain to accept the suffering as a means toward achieving your goal. Once you achieve that, you will be well on your way to better performances.

Part Two: The Body

  • Must be trained for the demands of the event (specificity)
  • Long TT’s require a high threshold power output. Shorter TT’s become more of a VO2 Max effort.
  • Must be trained to handle the aerodynamic TT position (Time on TT bike, increasing flexibility, developing solid core strength)
  • Must be trained to be as efficient as possible (smooth pedal stroke, maximized oxygen delivery, no break in form when fluids are required)

Part Three: The Bike (and equipment)

  • Maintained to function properly and consistently
  • Allow you to minimize your aerodynamic drag while maximizing your power output.
  • If you can afford all the bells and whistles, great. Just make sure they suit you, your body, and your goal events.

Not able to spend the $12,000 on a pro’d out bike? Continue reading.

If you can’t afford anything else, make sure you invest in a set of clip-on bars. This will allow you to decrease your frontal surface area and give you a stable platform to rest on. If you’re wanting more information on best bang for the buck upgrades, leave us a comment below and if there’s interest, we’ll put a blog together on our recommended order of aero upgrades.

Before this turns into a full-blown book, we will leave you with this.

If you want to own the Race of Truth, then you must do the following:

  • Learn to suffer and analyze what actions reduce suffering, even for a split second.
  • Complete training intervals that simulate your goal race. Implement the tip above on those interval days.
  • Become very self-aware and learn how to increase your power while maintaining perceived effort. (Proper pedal stroke, proper breathing, transferring the load to all muscle groups, positive mental cues, etc.)
  • Learn what cadence works best for you. We recommend a higher cadence on the hills, lower cadence on the downhills, and your “sweet spot” on the flats.
  • Know the course you will be racing. If you do not know the course, you will not know how to best ration out every last bit of your effort.
  • Push slightly harder when the course is harder (headwinds and uphills) – that is when you stand the most time to gain.
  • Learn from every race and hard effort. Where did you slack off? Could you have gone harder? Did your mind give up or your body? What would you do differently?
  • Master the skills – proper warm up, drinking without breaking form, maintaining a smooth pedal stroke, maximizing speed on turnarounds, handling the bike from the aerobars in corners (that allow it), shifting at appropriate times, maximizing your speed and efficiency at the start.

It’s amazing how a race that seems so simple can be so technical. That’s what happens when races are won and lost by tenths and hundredths of a second. Learn to love this event…it will take your mental game to a whole new level.

If you’re someone who’s interested in taking your Time Trialing to a higher level, leave us a comment and let us know. If there’s interest, we’ll make it happen.

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