By Fred Matheny
Q: In the past, I’ve heard you recommend short time trials to improve racing ability and as a way to gauge improvement. But I’m a fitness rider and don’t race. Is there any reason I should do these time trials? — Nando R.
A: Time trialing isn’t just for racers. In fact, it’s the racing skill most often used in non-competitive situations.
Here’s why you should consider including a 5- to 10-mile effort at time trial intensity every week or two:
- Steady, intense effort is a powerful producer of fitness. Riding at 85-90% of your maximum heart rate for 15-30 minutes will spike your fitness for tours, centuries and weekend group rides.
- Time trial speed is practical speed. Five miles from home with a thunderstorm bearing down? Time trial to safety before the deluge hits. Suppose you get delayed by a puncture on your evening commute or fitness ride. The ability to ride hard and fast will get you home before the sun sets.
- A weekly time trial varies your training. Sure, moderately paced rides are enjoyable and not too demanding. But a steady diet of steady riding can bore you and your body. Schedule a weekly effort against the clock and you’ll have something to get excited about. Before long, you’ll notice your cruising speed is creeping up, too.
- Time trialing improves climbing ability. They’re both continuous, strenuous efforts that reward pacing and concentration. That’s why climbing and time trialing are mutually beneficial. Doing one helps the other.
During more than 30 years in cycling journalism, Fred Matheny has written hundreds of fitness & training articles for top bike magazines and websites. Many of his best eBooks and eArticles are on sale in the RBR eBookstore. As a rider, he has raced to medals in state and national championships, plus a senior world record in the Team Race Across America. As a coach, he has worked with hundreds of riders at PAC Tour Training Camps, Carpenter/Phinney Bike Camps, and Dirt Camp.