TT Bike Adaptations…

BY KENNETH LUNDGREN

For the time trialists out there (they seem to be multiplying every year!), here are some tips towards tackling the Race of Truth… A few days ago, a rider posted questions about road bike TT bike, when to ride which, where to start…

You need to know your goals. This way, it’s much easier to design your plan. Pick a goal event, come up with some training objectives, and then you work towards achieving personal success. Without a plan, more often than not you will just tread water…

I ride my TT bike a lot, but I don’t get on it too too early in the season. I would say if you’re looking to come booming out of the gate, ripping the early-April TTs, then you should be getting on the TT bike by early November, starting to ramp into steady light Tempo… If you’re looking to peak for a big TT in the summer, then you’d probably want to hold off hitting the TT bike ’til mid-December, completing your aerobic, pedaling efficiency, and cadence work on your road bike first.

I only mention this because delaying the TT bike at first can provide a good change for the athlete, to switch bikes as the training starts getting harder… If you’re always on the TT bike, and on the bike too early, it can burn you out… I mean, if you’re going out in October on the TT bike, the weather is nice, you’re feeling good, and pretty soon noodling at 160w becomes cruising 23 mph at 200w and then you’re Tempoing 220w steady, feeling great… But this is not going to help you come April or June. Avoid this and spend that time on the road bike…

However, once it’s time to get on the TT bike, it’s time to get on the TT bike. 2-3 times per week, minimum. If you want to get better at time trialing, you have to get on the bike — because if your TT bike is set up properly, more often than not it’s a big difference fore/aft-wise compared to your road bike. And your body has to get acclimated to this…

So, figure out your goals in terms of time trialing. Once you figure out your goals, then it’s exponentially easier to figure out what to do on the bike…

In my opinion, for most riders the trick to the TT bike is to get forward, way forward. You want to be at least 2-3 inches more FORWARD compared to road position – if you use a plumb bob, you can measure the difference from bike to bike… When you’re more forward, it makes it harder to utilize all the muscles in your pedal stroke. You end up using your quads more, and you will fatigue more quickly. One way to help your pedal stroke, of course, is to get PowerCranks – they are an awesome training tool for the time trialist.

If you’re an avid roadie, when you first get on the TT bike your power will be in the toilet. Do not worry. You will adapt. If you have a power meter, your power, at first, will be far weaker compared to your road bike. On the road bike, you are a bit further back, and you can better utilize your hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, lower back into the pedal stroke. When you climb, you need to recruit these muscles for extra power – that’s why climbers tend to sit further back…

But for the time trialist, you need to be more forward for aerodynamic purposes… You are essentially taking your road position and pivoting everything down and forward… Also, most time trialists get low (too low in my opinion) and can’t put out power mid-way into a TT (and from there on out they’re on a nasty decline). The hips are closed too much. PowerCranking makes you pull your foot up, but also tons of core work will strengthen your lower back, your abs, and will help you put out power in this aggressive position… I speak from experience: when I started implementing steady core work into the plan, not only did I feel more solid during the TT training and events, but I went FASTER. I almost felt like I was doing less work on the bike but still going faster… A very nice feeling…

Ride that TT bike. The trick is to get as aero as possible without losing too much power. There is a breaking point, 27, 28 mph where aerodynamics are more important than power… I went for the most aggressive position this year and at first my power was down a whopping 30-40w. HUGE. But I was still fast with the power drop-off because of the position. THEN I rode the bike logically and steadily and within 5 months the power on the TT bike was BETTER than the road bike, helping me finish 2nd in the TT Cup for the second year in a row…

Nail your position. Take your time getting it just right. Know your goals, make training objectives, and work hard towards your big day. And get ready to work! If it were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun…

If anyone has any questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail… I hope this helps…

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Kenneth Lundgren's Diary | Monday, January 12th, 2009 | | |