Stupid question, but I must know--Cat 4 TT speeds

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by TSpec, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. TSpec

    TSpec New Member

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    I'm participating in a 4 race series and after the first 2 last weekend I sit in 2nd place. I need to do well in the time trial Saturday. My experience TT'ing is ziilch. I've never done one.

    The TT is a little over 7 miles long, with a turnaround. It's flat. We're in the Midwest. What is a reasonable target? I realize that the nature of TT's and categories makes this somewhat of a stupid question but what would you expect to see from a Cat 4 field this late in the season?
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Hard to predict a time or speed not knowing anything about your sustainable power or aerodynamics. Will you be riding with clip on aero bars and any other aero gear (helmet, deep dish rims, skinsuit, etc.)?

    You should expect at least a couple of Cat 4s with full aero kit and TT pacing experience to average 26-28 mph for a short flat out and back TT or IOW to finish the 7 miles in roughly 15 - 16 minutes(perhaps a bit more considering the start and turnaround on such a short course, but fast nonetheless). Add a minute or two to that time for folks riding it on standard road bikes without any aero accessories.

    If you've been competitive in the first couple of races and have been involved in attacks, chases, breaks and solo efforts then you probably have the fitness to compete in the TT. But aerodynamics is huge for a flat course and most folks go out way too hot and blow up in their first few TTs so experience and bike position count for a lot even if you have the raw power. If you've sat in, played a cagey game and placed in your first couple of races by jumping off other folks wheels in the sprint then you'll probably find out why the TT is called "the race of truth". So it depends a lot on where you're coming from and how you typically ride.

    If you have a week or more to practice with them you should beg, borrow or steal a set of clip on aero bars and get used to riding in that position. I wouldn't suggest bolting them on race day without a bit of practice as they tend to take some getting used to and a crash will cost you way more than poor aerodynamics.

    But with or without aero bars you should so some long mock TT efforts from a standing start as your Threshold training between now and the TT. Get a good warmup and start each effort from a standstill with a foot on the ground to get used to getting your gears wound up and settling into a pace without digging too deep a hole. Most TTs are lost in the first minute or so as folks go way too hard and have to back down to recover. Rolling into an interval is very different than starting from a dead stop so practice that and maintain the effort for 12 to 20 minutes per effort to dial in your pacing and focus.

    As long as you don't overamp the start or lose focus it'll come down to just getting out and riding your best ride.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  3. TSpec

    TSpec New Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    Almost every race i've won and done well in have come down to the sprint. That certainly is my strength (though my first win, and the 2nd place finish the following day was from 2 man breaks).

    The weather this past weekend kept everything together for the most part and came down to sprints, including the 40 mile road race. It is what it is.

    I've recently gotten a hold of an old powertap (that has since gotten flakey on me) and based off of some preliminary testing, my FTP is around 260 @ 168lbs.

    My teammate has gotten me on his old TT bike, it's a little too big for me but I'm def. faster on that than on my road bike. A local acquaintance has offered some 100mm rims and his giro advantage 2 (hopefully that comes through).

    I did my first 7mile effort, from a stop (after a few miles warming up) last night. It was pretty windy but for most the ride it was a cross wind. I didn't plan the route well and had to roll through a stop sign at about 8mph and just after this was a fairly significant hill. With that said, I only managed 23mph. I think I started off too strong, so tonight we're going to do it again and try and find a flatter course.
     
  4. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you're going about this in exactly the right way.

    Keep doing those mock TT efforts and don't hesitate to try more than one during a session with some rest between efforts. You don't need to go 100% of TT pace to get benefit, especially the focus, positioning and pacing benefits but you'll even get most of the training benefit if you back off 5% or so from your best TT pace.

    FWIW, try pounding much bigger gears than you usually ride in one of those test efforts. It sounds crazy and I know a bunch of folks will probably chime in about Lance's cadence during TTs but give it a try in training, especially in a second effort of the session. You might be surprised.

    With a TT bike (and a reasonable fit), deep wheels and helmet you should be able to hold at least 25 mph on the flats with 260 watts unless you're a really big guy. At 73kg plus bike weight I can break an hour for 40K with ~250 watts on my TT bike at sea level and although I've worked a lot on my position I know my CdA isn't stellar at ~0.23. I averaged nearly 27 mph with only 265 watts during my best 40K TT to date but that was up at 5000' on a pancake flat course.

    -Dave
     
  5. TSpec

    TSpec New Member

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    Managed 24.5mph today for 8 miles. Adjusted the seat a little, less wind, no hill.

    I think with the helmet and wheels and race atmosphere and I'll be able to get enough points to make it interesting for Sunday.
     
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