All About Time Trials

We’re delighted to be able to bring a Time Trial league under the LWR banner, and we hope that we see lots of new and experienced ‘testers’ create a competitive TT league. The LWR TT league will welcome riders from all levels of experience.

TT Secretaries Julie Chasin and Kathryn Morris set out all you need to know about TT’s below. As always, get in touch if you want to know more, join our February TT training session, or join the league and sign up to a race right now!

The race of truth

Often referred to as “the race of truth”, time trials are the simplest form of bike racing.  Riders set off individually at one minute intervals and are timed over a set course; the rider who records the fastest time is the winner.  Unlike other forms of racing, riders are un-paced and there is no teamwork.  It is you, on your own, against the clock, aiming to finish as quickly as you can.  You ride on your own, at your own pace.  You may overtake other riders or be overtaken by others, but you may not draft in another rider’s slipstream.   The challenge lies in balancing your pace so that you are managing to race just “on the rivet” [at your limit] – finding the pace that allows you to go as quickly as you can without “blowing up” [running out of energy] before the race is over.

TT’s are for everyone

The great thing about time trialling is that anyone can do it.  If you look around a typical race HQ you will see all sorts of riders;  fast and slow, young and old, experienced and inexperienced. Some will have top end, sleek aero machines, with every aero advantage they can think of (and afford), while others will be on an old bike from their shed (occasionally you’ll even see a tandem or tricycle!).  But everyone has the same goal: trying to beat their own personal best time. Everyone there was also a beginner racer once and many are happy to share their experience and knowledge.

What races can I attend?

Club Events – These events are run by clubs primarily for the benefit of their own club members. Events usually take place on weekday evenings during the summer and often clubs hold events every week with a points competitions or league over the whole season. Although club events are mainly for club members it is a tradition in time trialling that visiting riders are made welcome. So if you would like to take part in a race and you can find the details of a local club event taking place nearby then you would be welcome to go along and ask the event organisers whether you may take part. No pre-entry is required but there will be a small charge of a few pounds. Go along to the meeting point in plenty of time for the start of the race, sign-on, pay the entry fee and join in.

Open Events – These events are more formal with pre-defined start lists (no entries are ever accepted on the day). Clubs put on open events, usually at the weekend, for the benefit of the wider cycling community. Anyone who is a member of a CTT-affiliated club [CTT is the national governing body for time trials] is eligible to enter an open event but the entry closing date is usually two weeks before the event so some forward planning is needed. Riders receive a start sheet from the event organiser by email or post during the week before the event. This will give full details of the event HQ and your start time.

Time Trial Courses

Time Trial courses are often of a standard distance such as 10, 25 or 50 miles, but this is not always the case.  For safety reasons and for the standardisation of distances time trialling is only done on roads which have been approved for use by the local CTT district committee.

In time trialling each approved course is represented by a course code.  This stems from the days when time trials were secret races as cycle racing was banned on British roads. By riding individually riders did not appear to be racing.   Although the secrecy is gone today, some of the lingo and course code naming remains the same.

The important bit! How do I enter?

All of the events chosen for the LWR TT series are Open Events.  But please note! Open events must be entered two weeks in advance.

Step one: Because open time trials are seeded based on PB times, online registration for each individual race typically closes on the TUESDAY two weeks prior to the race.  It is not possible to enter a race on the day. All of the races we have chosen are listed HERE.

Step two: When registering for a race you must specify your club affiliation.  If you are not a member of a CTT affiliated club you will have the option to choose London Womens Racing CC as your club in the drop down menu when entering.

Step three: A few days before the race you will receive an email with the start sheet listing who is racing and your exact start time.  The email will also contain information about the race route, the location of the Race HQ for sign on and often information about how far the HQ is from the start of the race.  You can find all information regarding LWR TT series race dates and entry closing dates HERE [scroll down for the table].

Step four: If you don’t make it to the start line for your specific start time you will be assigned a “DNS.” Race organisers request that competitors let them know if for some reason you can not make it to a race (more reasons for this below).  If you let them know in advance you will be assigned “DNS with apologies”  which gives you a much better reputation amongst race organisers than a simple “DNS.”

If you are running late and miss your start times it is up to the discretion of the time keeper to allow you to start at the next available time.  You will be given a time penalty on top of your recorded finishing time.  For the purposes of the LWR standings we will not take the penalty time into account but only look at your actual course race time.

Online – to enter an event online you must go to the National CTT website, find the event you want to ride under the list of events and use the online event entry system.

By Post -you can complete a hard copy entry form and send it to the event organiser with a cheque made payable to the organiser.

To enter each event in the 2017 London Women’s Racing TT Series go to the 2017 TT League page.  There you will find direct links to entry on the CTT website.  You can either go to the organiser’s details to enter by post or enter online using the “Enter” link.

DNS Etiquette

This is just a small note on an important piece of etiquette in TTs – if you’re unable to go because of illness or injury. First off, please ensure once you have committed to a TT that you make every effort to attend. It is of course disheartening for the volunteers who have given up their time to run the event but there are several other reasons specific to TT, why it is considered very bad form to ‘DNS’ (Did Not Start).

  • You may deny someone else a place; some courses are very popular and unless otherwise specified, only riders with the fastest times get a place if oversubscribed. Some organisers specifically reserve spots for women, who if done on PB would unlikely meet the time cut-off. This must be specified far in advance with the governing body (CTT) when the year’s calendar is approved. The legal requirements of running a TT on an open road mean that all riders must be registered in advance, a few organisers operate a reserve list, but this makes seeding (see next paragraph) difficult, so most do not. It can be very frustrating for the organisers who have had to turn good riders away, when those they gave preference to then DNS.
  • Once entries close, a start list is devised that takes into account the speed of each rider (seeding), often with each 5th rider being the top level riders. Competitors are set off usually at 1 minute intervals and a great motivator is to see your ‘minute (wo)man’ in the distance and try and reach and then pass them, or conversely to stay ahead of the person creeping up on you from behind! LWR has specifically requested for all our series events that the ladies are started together so riders may have a chance to catch the person in front. If someone is ‘DNS’, then that can completely remove that aspect of the competition for the person next to you in the start list.

If exceptional circumstances occur and you really cannot take part, please contact the organiser to send apologies. You’ll be put down as ‘DNS [Did Not Start] with apologies’ as opposed to just ‘DNS’. It is common practice that if a rider does not feel fit to ride through injury or illness, they offer to volunteer at the event instead; please do consider doing this if able, as it is a courtesy that is much appreciated.

Want to know more?

For a great article on time trialling please read this: https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/articles/view/28