The next instalment of my 4th cat and proud diaries have seen me dipping into the previously alien world of Time Trial! This is a discipline I’ve never really taken to before, as it always seemed to me to be devoid of the thrill associated with riding at speed, in a pack and one for the reclusive types.

I thought wrong! My first 10 in what must be 3 years proved to be a lung-busting effort rewarded by a time of 25:45 which given the weekends wine consumption (large) wasn’t too bad. Although the whole ‘if you don’t feel sick at the finish you haven’t tried hard enough’ mantra isn’t so funny or rewarding when you have a line of cars behind waiting for the lights to change!

The next sporting 10 course soon had me sweating buckets and my legs on fire. For this ride I made sure I had my trusty PBK oversocks/Belgian booties with me and although a basic addition to your kit, it does make a fair difference in time and in reducing drag. Not a bad result for PBK though, Dave destroyed the field true to his ‘climber’ claim, coming in 1st covering the 14 miles course in just 30 mins!

Oversocks were the first purchase I made to have a bash at TT’ing. While reducing drag (everything helps right?!) they look smooth and sleek and also if it does start to rain they keep your shoes protected to an extent. They’re also one of those items which once you start using you wonder how you managed without, they suit morning rides, cafe runs and evening races taking everything in-between in their stride.

We have a large choice of oversocks here and mine were PBK team issue and did the job perfectly. If you’re after some, look out for:

  • Elastic/silicone grippers at the tops.
  • A cam-lock rear zipper – this will prevent them coming undone and rattling.
  • Well stitched cleat cut-outs/cleat cut outs full stop. The ones which require you to cut them yourself may be cheaper but they’ll soon be worn out.
  • Colour co-ordination with your team/race kit – being stopped by the fashion police mid-race is never a good situation to be in!

These would be an ideal starter, tough (the material seems to have left its mark on my crank arms without wearing at all!) and stretchy enough for all brands of shoe:

DeFeet PBK Oversocks:

£18, available in black or pro white (you know you deserve the white ones!) and machine washable.

If you’re feeling flush and want the very best pair of overshoes on the market, the Castelli Aero Race oversocks fit the bill perfectly. If the guys at Cervelo Test Team wear them they can’t be bad!

The next step would be some clip on extensions or time trial bars. Most countries/racing bodies won’t let you race normal road races with extensions so you need these to be easy to fit and remove as your race diary sees fit. Most only need an allen key or two to fit which keeps things simple. Starting at around £90 these aren’t cheap, but you’ll reap the benefits of being lower and more aero. Click for a selection of our range:

Pay a bit more for carbon extensions and the reduced weight and road buzz. The alloy ones will prove more durable especially if these are your first along with the inevitable battles which will ensue with doors, walls, car boots etc…

When buying you have the choice of:

  • Carbon or alloy extensions – carbon is less harsh, though note that the weight saving from carbon – alloy is small.
  • Different bends in the extensions – straight or s-bend allow you to achieve different positions.

Dave, one of our staff racers is riding at the minute with some white Pro carbon extensions and he seems pleased and they certainly aren’t slowing him down. Before buying please make sure that you have room on your bars to fit them and also that your bars are made to accept them – a lot of carbon bars won’t, but most alloy bars will be OK. You’ll probably have to take your computer off, not a bad thing as it’ll distract you while riding and in my case it’s likely to only read-out bad news – which can be off-putting while racing. Click here for Tri Bars on PBK:

For fast courses a specific TT helmet will be of benefit. These are the ones which people (often co-workers and distant family friends) when informed you’re a cyclist ask if you wear one of those ‘long pointy helmets’. They have a long rear wing to smooth airflow and give you more seconds against the clock. They also tend to have less venting, lord knows how I’m going to cope given that my regular helmet has had me undergoing water torture with sweat beading almost straight away.

I am a fan of the Ekoi range, a French company with some strikingly coloured lids. The Chrono CX TT helmet comes in garish pink, green and plenty of other less obvious colours to suit. If you’re going to ride regularly on fast dual carriage ways a bright crash helmet may be of benefit and somewhere where the fashion police may turn a blind eye. In terms of cost, the Ekoi is at the lower end of the range but by no means lacking (it has all the important stamps).

For the Ekoi range of helmets click here.

Costing approximately £100, it is an investment but is the next step-up in TT equipment.

If you’re feeling flush, Selev do an all singing and all dancing TT helmet at nearer £200:

It has the added feature of: An in-built visor, deeper ear pads, plenty of vents and again the important safety stamps.

Time trials are a race against the clock and a test of your own prowess. By buying specific kit you are going to improve your times but nothing will knock those seconds off faster than training more and harder.

After you’ve completed your first few TT’s and have got a feel for it, you may want to take it further. If you are looking at putting more serious money into this, a set of wheels is probably on your list prior to going the whole hog and buying a TT bike. We have a selection of TT wheelsets here at PBK, they usually consist of a deep section front wheel and a disc rear. Reynolds even do a clincher pair so everyone is catered for.

Time trials are a great way to get into the sport and everyone I’ve ever met at a TT is friendly, in fact the lack of racing against each other makes for a great atmosphere and certainly none of the arguments and issues which come with pack racing. Also don’t forget the time and effort which the time keeper and club volunteers put in to make your evening fuss free – they really do deserve far more credit than they receive, without them there would be no events. Also don’t forget they could probably still kick your behind on a circuit which they know like the back of their hand!

Any tips for beginner TT’ers? Please let us know below…

Stick at it and one day you may even end up looking like this:



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