Keen to improve your time-trialling ability this season? There are few batter-placed to offer advice on how to ride against the clock than Chris Boardman.
Boardman was crowned world time trial champion in 1994 during a 17-year professional career which also saw the Merseysider win three Tour de France prologues – and wear the yellow jersey three times as a result – and set the world hour record.
Boardman’s obsession with speed extended to his equipment and a pursuit of aerodynamic perfection, and he has since applied that knowledge as head of British Cycling’s Secret Squirrel Club (a role he left after the London 2012 Olympic Games) and his own brand, Boardman Bikes.
Boardman knows what he’s talking about, then, but all that’s a far cry from when he turned out for his first club ten-mile time trial in Chester as a 13-year-old. “I was absolutely rubbish,” he says, despite breaking the 30-minute mark by clocking 29 minutes and 43 seconds. “I went back the next week and went a minute faster, then slowly clawed my way forward.”
That’s the beauty of time trialing, according to Boardman. “You’re racing against yourself,” he says. “That’s why it’s existed so long as a separate sport – it can be whatever you want it to be.”
It’s a chance to test your fitness without the fear of getting dropped from the bunch, to create a mark to come back and beat. Any rider can turn up to an open ‘club ten’ on any roadworthy bike – time trial-specific machines and pointy helmets are not required. There’s no shortage of time trials at which to do that either, with countless clubs hosting evening ten and 25-mile events through the summer. Ask at your local club, otherwise the Cycling Time Trials website is a good place to start to find an event near you.
But time trialing – by definition, an event which requires the rider to pedal as fast as humanly possible over a set distance – remains a painful pursuit and turning up to your first ‘club ten’ can be a daunting experience, so we caught up with Boardman to ask his advice on how to pace your ride, power and heart rate, training, aerodynamics and confidence.