The final act of the UK time-trial season is probably its most spectacular, and certainly its most distinctive, hill-climbing.
It’s a simple time trial, up a hill. But don’t go thinking it’s anything like those up hill stages that are sometimes included in continental stage races – those are languid by comparison. No, in British hill-climbing, the climbs might be short, but they’re typically very, very steep.
The race might only take a few minutes, but the lung-bursting effort can leave riders so exhausted that they have to be caught before they fall from their bikes at the top.
What makes most climbs really special, though, are the throngs of spectators who come out to watch. Often riders fi nd themselves climbing through a wall of noise, with the crowd parting to let them through – it feels more like the high summer of the Tour de France than Britain on a misty October morning.
You don’t need to be a phenomenal climber to enjoy hill-climbing, and while some of the top riders will turn up with seriously specialised lightweight bikes, for the rest of us, anything roadworthy will do. Some riders even tackle climbs on trikes or tandems. With the crowds and the carnival atmosphere, hillclimbing is one of the most memorable things you can do as an amateur cyclist.
Preparing for next season’s time trials
So, you’ve tried time-trialling this year, and enjoyed it. Or maybe you’re just getting interested, and want to have a go at it next year. Either way, you might be thinking about what you do over the winter to get the most out of yourself.
For most time-triallists, the winter is much the same as it is for most other sporting cyclists – a build up of nice relaxed mileage, probably including a long ride at the weekend. This builds the kind of general condition and strength needed for the faster training and racing that begins when the season starts to pick up in spring.
For time-trialling specifically, you might want to try doing some of your training using the same position you’ll use for racing, using tribars to get a lower position.
It’ll mean you’re a bit more comfortable when you start racing next year, and it’ll give you a chance to play around with things to see if you can go a bit faster.
Of course, if you’ve really been bitten by the bug, you’ll already be planning what to demand for Christmas…. And somewhere around the New Year, don’t forget to get your CTT handbook for the 2010 season so you can plan your racing.
How I started: Richard Prebble
What was your first time-trial?
It was while I was in my final year at university, in 1989, and it was a two-up team time-trial organised by Severn RC. I rode with Dave Redding, who was also a student, but had done a fair bit of riding and we managed to win it!
Did you enjoy it?
I did when it had stopped! I wasn’t as strong as Dave, so it was tough. But I still liked the sport. For me the pleasure of time-trialling isn’t so much the race itself, it’s the sense of achievement I get from doing something well.
What have you achieved since that first race?
I’ve won national championships over 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles. I’ve ridden internationally, and competed in the team time-trial at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
Any advice for a newcomer?
Don’t worry about all the flash kit – time trialling is about riding your bike, and enjoying what you’re doing.
Getting into time trialling is easy
Telephone Phil Heaton, Cycling Time Trials national secretary on 01942 603976 or just contact one of your local clubs listed on www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/beginners and they’ll tell you all you need to know!