TT Training Tricks

Yogi Berra said, “90% of baseball is mental; the other half is physical”.  Like many other “Yogiisms”, though logically incorrect, this one has an odd, zen-like quality.

He could easily be talking about riding time trials.  You might have a good engine but if you don’t master the mental aspect, then it’s just …  suffering.    Actually it’s suffering in any case, but the ideal is to optimize it: just the right amount of discomfort over the given distance.  Go out too fast and you die a horrible death.  Go out too slow and you kick yourself for having “too much in the tank” at the end.

Learning how to do that takes some practice.  The problem is:  who wants to practice suffering?  Bike riding is supposed to be fun.  Why would you want to get on a bike just to ride until you feel like crap?

Fortunately (I suppose) the human mind is sometimes able to fool itself.  There are a few tricks that, if nothing else, make the TT training doable.  Thinking about this, here are the top tricks that seem to work for me.

First is to find a good stretch of road.  Some roads just seem better for TT training.  If I’m going hard and am constantly being buzzed by cars, or have to dodge bad pavement, then I get annoyed, get distracted, and then just think about how much I want to stop.  Once I find a good route, then it just feels like a TT route. It feels right to go fast.

Everyone I know who TT’s has some kind of data that they look at.  Ideally that’s a power meter.  But a heart rate monitor, or even watching speed over a known course seems to work. Besides being an essential training tool, it’s an additional point of attention away from the discomfort.

Maybe the best trick — for me anyway — is to do some training TT’s.  Like the Thursday night TT in Leroy Township. Once you know that someone is recording your time, and know you’re in competition with other riders, a switch goes on and the suffering is in a completely different context.

Now the fear is that having thought about and exposed the tricks, will they still continue to work?

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “TT Training Tricks

  1. I’d argue that all bike racing is mostly mental. For example, I sometimes find myself getting dropped on hills in races. But then, when someone I think I should beat starts dropping me, I find the motivation to speed up and re-attach. Had that person not come around me, I would be dropped. 100% mental. Dumb.

  2. George

    I ran across this great quote on time trialing from an unknown author.

    “The time trial is an opportunity to begin a journey, a path not only on the open road, but also inside the mind, with a single pedal stroke. The time trial is an internal battle as much as it is one against the clock.”

  3. Brian

    >> I’d argue that all bike racing is mostly mental

    I wouldn’t argue against that. The way I see it, having the engine is ‘necessary but not sufficient’. Some guys seem to be the masters of suffering — able to find a way to hang on or claw their way back after a climb when any reasonable person would just say ‘enough’.

    >> I ran across this great quote on time trialing from an unknown author …

    Awesome quote. Interesting that the ‘race of truth’, which many people look at as only a measure of who can put out the most watts, is in actuality so much more than that.

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