Part One: 20 K Time Trial - Thursday, September 15th, 2022
At the UCI Time Trials the officials are very particular about the geometric parameters of the time trial set up which is different than the standard triathlon bicycle. It is best to start with a bike that has UCI certified frame. The frame should have a sticker. If one modifies the handle bars including the arm pads, the bicycle might not be compliant. The race village will have a jig to set the bicycle on to make sure the distances between the handle bars and seat are compliant including the height of the seat, etc. I don’t understand all of the geometry, but had my personal time trial bike set up a few years ago. For Worlds, I have rented my time trial bike and traveled over with my road bike. The company I rent my time trial bike from is very good at setting up the bicycle to be UCI compliant. The only issue I have had is that their bikes are that they are a tad large for me since I ride a 49cm bike. It’s hard to get into the perfect aero position required to ride your best. I am contemplating on bringing my own time trial bike next time. It is smaller and dialed in to my size.
One common mistake on time trial bike set ups that I have seen at Worlds is too long of aero bars. One rider I know had to have the bars cut back at a local bike shop before she could race. That is stressful the day before a race. Another rider I know had very large arm pads for more leverage and comfort. The large pads were not UCI compliant. Thank goodness she brought her standard pads to change out before the race.
At the start of the time trial, the officials check out the time trial bicycles one more time for compliance and also scanned each bike for illegal internal motors. The ramp this year was not too steep like in some previous years, but the course did begin and end on cobble like pavers which is disconcerting to race on with skinny time trial wheels. Also, racer from Mexico that started before me nearly fell off the ramp with a very wobbly start. I am not sure how much experience she had with start ramps. It was hard to focus with such distractions, but I was all set once I got going.
I really like participating in the time trial at Worlds for two reasons. It gets me focused on racing because there are so many distractions with being in a new exciting place with athletes from around the world. The time trial is on Thursday and the Gran Fondo is on Sunday. Getting a race under my belt helps me focus on Sunday’s race and erases any anxiety of the event at hand.
The 20 k flattish course had a teardrop layout, so there was no tight turnaround which are more common in time trials in the States. There were lots of intersection turns and roundabouts to navigate at top speed. The organizers did an excellent job with course markings and traffic control especially when you consider the race was on a weekday/workday out and back into a busy city. This year, I place 4th in the 65-69 year old women’s category. I am thinking I can improve my performance in the time trial next year if I race my own time trial bicycle. I will just need to drag two bikes oversees.