If you want to know how you measure up to yourself, this is the best kind of race. You race alone, against the clock, so the only thing you have to beat is yourself. Well, this is if you are not a professional and competing on the world stage.
Time trial races are found everywhere and cycling is no different. In cycling, however, they are on hard, paved roads and are usually around 8 kilometers long, sometimes going as far as 40 kilometers. They are usually a part of grand tours, being stages. If not a stage, then they can also be a prologue, which are shorter races, up to 8 kilometers. There are also mountain time trials, which are much more difficult.
A notable time trial race takes place in Madrid in Spain as part of the Vuelta a España. It is a final individual time trial which decides the winner. This type of race and event provided a lot of excitement and often, drama. Many have seen their leads be destroyed in that final time trial race.
The Tactical Race
Oftentimes, cycling is a very tactical sport and is often called chess on wheels. This makes the time trial races even more tactical than some might think. What makes people shine in time trial races are a couple of features, both physical and mental. You should have a steady, but powerful cadence which automatically means that your pedaling technique should be spotless.
Having a controlled heart rate is essential to a good time trial result, which in turn means that your breathing technique should also be spotless. While some consider breathing exercises to be boring and uninteresting, they are essential to any endurance based sport, or exercise in general. The body tends to move and work better if you match your breathing to the exercise in hand, regardless of the sport. Cycling benefits greatly from a steady breathing rhythm.
Being aerodynamic is also important, as every bit of speed matter, the less resistance, the better. Likewise, the athlete should know when they are near their anaerobic threshold. This is when your body starts producing lactic acid. You should save your energy and work in the aerobic field, giving it all, or going into your VO2MAX zone near the end of the time trial. Do know that once you start sprinting, you might burn out and not have enough power left to finish the trial (just think of cycling up a hill and burning out, only to find out there’s more ascending to be done, while your legs are literally giving up).
Time trial races are very entertaining and are a great way of measuring your own performance, not to mention earning jerseys if you are good enough.