TT Tip of the week: Cornering and Course Management
This is a continuation of my open challenge to Nytro readers: Cover 40K in under one hour (link) )
There are volumes of information out in print and cyberspace about training for time trials. Loads and loads of information about how to prepare the engine. Specific intervals and workouts, etc… In this era of power meters and ultra-refined nutrition, it is easy to forget the broader picture and goals.
This week, I am going to discuss cornering, bike handling, and course management.
Survey your course. How many corners does it have? Does it have a turnaround? Are there sections where you'll be exposed to the wind? Is it a circuit?
I remember doing the SuperSeal Triathlon in 2009 as a relay, and there were no less than seven (7) 180 degree turnarounds. Using google maps, I was able to get an idea of the radii of my turns. As practice, I donned my skinsuit, aero helmet, TT bike, disc wheel, and deep front wheel, and looking like a total geek, headed a block away to an uncrowded cul-de-sac.
I placed tape on the road to give me markers for how much room I would have on either side of the fulcrum. For about a half an hour, I practiced coming in at different speeds and setting my line while coming out of my aerodynamic tuck, then accelerating back up to speed after the turn.
After about a dozen tries, I felt like I had it. Then I did a few more.
A few days later I clocked the fastest amateur 40K time ever on the SuperSeal course. A few months later, I was racing an out-and-back time trial at Tom's Farm. I distinctly remember being very confident coming into the turnaround and carrying my momentum well. I went on to post the fastest time of the day. My margin of victory? 3 seconds.
Bike handling matters. Even pro time trialists can gain an advantage on their opponents. For reference, check out Fabian Cancellara's ride from the 2007 London Prologue:
If you don't ride your TT bike often, start doing so. Take a few corners with it. Practice how it feels. Or better yet, find similar corners to what you'll encounter in your next race and go practice there.
The best part of all of this is that it doesn't add to your training stress. You can do this as a cool-down activity or active recovery. It's essentially free speed. Go grab it!