If you have a Time Trial bike for racing ideally you’d do as much of your training as possible on it in your racing position. In the UK this can be a real challenge with the weather, the traffic along, weather, narrow roads, undulating terrain and bad surfaces.
Time trial bikes are not so good for riding hills due to the gearing and the fact that you give up a little bit of power in the aero position. It does depend on your strengths and weaknesses as a cyclist but personally as I’m on the heavy side I’m not suited to riding up hills and any slight hill completely ruins me if I’m on my Time Trial bike. This can be a real challenge on the undulating Warwickshire country side.
I also feel really nervous riding my Time trial bike in traffic because the aggressive position makes it much harder to be aware of traffic and it’s impossible to be looking behind to get eye contact with drivers in the aero position.
In addition to this TT bikes do handle differently especially in the wind and again the side draft you get from larger vehicles over taking can also be disconcerting.
The final thing is – it’s my pride and joy. It’s my lean mean racing machine! So I should save it for best. And not get it dirty or wet right?
Time trial bikes are also not good for group rides because of the potential for clipping someone else’s back wheel and causing a pile up when you’re in your aero bars. So training on your TT bike can be a solitary pursuit.
With all these issues it’s easy to use all this as a barrier to stop you riding your TT bike.
The first thing I do is put my TT bike on my turbo through the winter. And I use the aero bars as much as possible while I’m in doors.
During the winter you’re probably better off using a road bike for outdoor riding. This is because it’s a little more upright so it makes it easier to deal with the bad roads, traffic and weather. You can add mudguards so you don’t get so wet, you’ve usually got more gears so you can cope with a wider range of terrain and you can get out with your friends on some group rides on those grey miserable days.
As soon as the weather picks up and is a little bit warmer and drier I get my Time Trial bike outdoors. I try and ride it at least once a week outside.
I have some routes for Time Trial training that have good road surfaces, not many hills and not a lot of traffic so I feel comfortable on my TT bike and in my aero position.
As an Ironman athlete I need to get some miles in so I tend to ride around loops and laps with a range of intervals to do to break up the monotony. This way I can get a decent length ride done while still riding my TT bike without having to get off and push it up a hill in North Warwickshire.
It’s worth giving some thought to how, where, when and how often you ride your TT bike so that you get used to riding the position while still staying safe and happy.