by Alexander Ross

Having raced all over Europe with some very good riders I would like to think that the things I’ve seen and done have aided me in my quest to become a better cyclist.

Caithness Cycling Club primarily consists of testers, and very good ones at that, but simple things could be done to improve even further. Without confusing people with complicated sports science talk, my intention is to outline many of the mistakes I have seen made on a weekly basis by riders with more potential than they think.

A successful time trial actually begins months before the event, but there are improvements that can be made beginning the day before:

Don’t be lead into not training the day before the event - I would recommend an hour of steady riding with 3 or 4 one minute periods at TT speed and effort, with three minute rest periods in between. This not only sharpens your speed but also gives your body a very good indication of what is to come.

Eating, in my opinion, is an essential part of the process - this is your fuel. There is strong evidence to support the fact that eating food that is hard to digest within 48 hours of an event can be detrimental to performance. You would be well advised to avoid things such as red meat, and concentrate on foods that are low in protein and high in carbohydrate. On the day of the event I would recommend a light meal two and a half hours before - this not only allows time for digestion but also means you are not starting on a full stomach, which can lead to cramp and sickness.

Prepare properly for the Tuesday night TT -

arrive in plenty of time so that if something goes wrong you will have sufficient time to rectify the problem

ensure that you are adequately dressed in warm clothing, to avoid getting cold

warm-up - this is such an important part of any event, fail to do this properly and you would be better sitting at home eating chocolate! In my opinion warming up on a static trainer is the best way to conduct things because you can do a controlled warm-up that suits you time and time again.

always allow plenty of time to get to the start, and on arriving keep moving - never stand still as this not only leads your body into thinking that you’ve finished, but on starting can stress the body beyond its means.

once underway a gradual start is recommended, otherwise the body may go into oxygen debt - this is the burning sensation sometimes felt after a few minutes. By all means start fast if undertaking lactate tolerance training.

try and get into a rhythm quickly e.g. 100 to 110 rpm - don’t be fooled into pushing big gears, there are few with the power to carry this out successfully - a 53 tooth chainring is more than sufficient.

throughout the race ride within yourself, there is no point in flying out to the turn only to struggle with fatigue on the return leg!

on finishing, if you feel fairly fresh and are able to talk, then you’ve not tried hard enough - you’re there to race, not kid yourself on!

always ensure a cooldown is performed - ideally 10 minutes spinning, nice and easy, with warm clothing on.

once back at the clubrooms or at home, get something to eat and carry out some stretching exercises - it’s a fact that muscles recover more quickly this way

This is just some basic advice but all good and proven - the next time I see you race I expect to see it put into practice.

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