Frequently asked questions

If you are new to time trialling you may find the following answers to frequently asked questions helpful.

What is time trialling?

A cycling time trial is sometimes called the 'race of truth' because it is the simplest purest race against the clock. Each rider sets off on their own and covers the specified course in the fastest time they can, alone and unpaced. It is you against the clock. No tactics, no teamwork, no game-plan other than to finish in the shortest possible time.

Riders usually set off at minute intervals, counted down by the timekeeper. You ride at your own pace and may be overtaken by other riders, or you may overtake others. Whatever happens you must never shelter in the slipstream of another rider and you should not take pace from anyone else.

The beauty of time trialling is that anyone can do it. Fast or slow, young or old, experienced or inexperienced.

What kind of bike do I need? 

You can do a time trial on any type of bike as long as it is in good working order and it is roadworthy. Don't be put off because you think your bike might not be fast enough.

Do I need to be a member of a cycling club?

Club events: You can usually enter a club event without being a member of any cycling club - but it is polite to ask the club officials if they are happy for you to do so and they may request a small additional fee to cover insurance.

Open events: If you are not a member of a cycling club which is affiliated to the CTT then you cannot enter an open event. For the purposes of the Midlands Women's TT Series, you can be enrolled in a club called 'Newcomers CC' so that you can take part in the MWTTS events. You should state this club on your Series entry and on each event entry. (Note that Newcomers CC does not count in the team competition.)

Are the series registration and the event registration the same thing?

No, you need to enter the MWTTS before the first event you want to take part in, and also enter the event separately.  To enter an event through the CTT website, you will need to create a log in there.  This is not the same thing as your MWTTS registration. See Entering events.

How are courses chosen?

For safety reasons and for the standardisation of distances, time trialling is only done on roads which have been approved for use by the local CTT district committee. Factors which are taken into account in the risk assessment include the safety of the start and finish points, the volume of traffic, the width and surface of the road and the safety of junctions. Obviously courses need to be free of traffic lights or junctions where stopping is likely to be a necessity. They are often of a standard distance such as 10, 25 or 50 miles, but this is not always the case.

Why do courses have code names?

In time trialling, each approved course is represented by a course code. This is a left-over from earlier years when the authorities were not keen on time trialling taking place on public roads.  Times have changed, but the code names have stuck, unfortunately, as this can seem a bit bewildering, but it is just easy shorthand. 

In the Midlands District all the courses start with a ‘K’.  We also sometimes use "A" courses. You can find the details of all Midlands courses here.

When should I arrive at the event?

Club events: Arrive at the meeting point with plenty of time to spare before the race. Most riders allow a minimum of half an hour before the event start time. This means you can sign on, prepare your bike and yourself, pin on your number and get warmed up without rushing.

Open events: Prior to an open event you will have received a start sheet giving your start time. The only requirement is that you are ready to start, at the start line at the allotted time. You should aim to reach the HQ about an hour before your allotted start time, collect your number, sign on and get warmed up without rushing. Some HQs are several miles from the event start, so you need to leave sufficient time to get to the start from the HQ. This information will be in the start sheet.

Will there be any changing facilities?

*note no changing facilities are available while events are run under COVID-19 protocols.*

Club events: Club events are informal racing events that are run very cheaply. There are therefore usually no changing facilities. Most competitors travel to the event in cycling kit or get changed in their car. 

Open events: Open events usually have a HQ at a village hall or similar. There is usually space to change and toilet facilities. 

What do I need to bring with me?

  • Your bike and all equipment for riding it (helmet, shoes etc).
  • A working rear light - this is a compulsory requirement for all open time trials. No light = no ride.
  • A track pump if you have one.
  • Tools, allen keys and spare inner tube.
Some people also bring a turbo trainer to warm up on, but you can also warm up on the road (although some events have rules about not warming up on the event course).

What should I wear?

The CTT has some rules about what can be worn in time trials.  These are a bit archaic, but you should be aware that you could be prevented from starting unless your clothing complies. Basically, you need to wear ordinary cycling shorts to mid-thigh, and an ordinary cycling jersey with sleeves that cover your shoulders. Sleeveless tri suits or similar are not allowed.  If you want to wear a sleeveless tri suit, you must wear a short or long sleeved base layer with/underneath it, so that your shoulders are covered.

Also, you should not wear clothing showing commercial sponsorship unless your club is a sponsored club. Some organisers are stricter on this rule than others - most cycling kit has some branding on it, but you should try and choose something where the logos are fairly discreet.

Do I have to wear a helmet?

There is no obligation for adults taking part in time trials to wear a helmet, although you are strongly advised to do so. However, CTT regulations state that all juniors and youth riders (anyone under the age of 18) are required to wear a helmet.

Where does the number go?

You should pin your number on your lower back, in the middle, so it is visible to drivers, marshals and other competitors when you are tucked over your handlebars or on your aero bars.  Putting the number higher on your back (between your shoulders) will mean it cannot be easily seen, so make sure you position it low enough to be visible. You may need to ask someone to help you with this. 

Some skinsuits will have tags to attach the number, but otherwise make sure all four pins are through the fabric and the number is firmly attached.

*Note that under COVID-19 rules, numbers are disposable and no safety pins are provided.*

What happens at the start?

Club events: When you sign on make sure you know what your start time is and exactly where is the start line. No one will remind you of this or worry about getting you to the start on time. You should make sure you are on the start line at least a minute before your start time. 

Open events: As all riders must pre-enter, the start order is published in advance and you will receive this by email a few days before the event. This tells you your exact start time. On the day you should collect your number from the HQ and present yourself at the start line at least a minute before your start time.
When it is your turn, the timekeeper will call your number and you can move up to the start line and wait for the timekeeper to count you down. 

*Note that there is no pusher off under COVID-19 rules. Every participant must start without assistance.*

For both club and open events, there will usually be a person pushing off - they will hold you in position while you clip your pedals in and then let you go when the count down ends.  If you haven't done this before, you may want to have a practice beforehand, as it can be a bit daunting.  If you decide you don't want to be pushed off, that's fine too - just tell the timekeeper and pusher off that you will start with one foot on the floor.

Will there be marshals to direct me?

In an open event, there should be marshals on the course to make traffic aware that a cycling event is taking place. However, their role is not to tell you where to go. The onus is on the rider to know the course. Make sure that you know where the course goes!  

What happens if I get a puncture during the race?

Most organisers will not leave you stranded on a remote road, but you should not assume someone will rescue you. You should always carry a pump, inner tube and tyre levers to repair your puncture.

What happens if someone overtakes me?

Don’t worry if you are overtaken – this happens to everyone at some point. Let the overtaking rider get well ahead of you so that you get no drafting advantage and don’t be put off. Concentrate on riding your own race at your own pace. 

What do I do at the finish line?

When you pass the timekeeper at the finish line it is traditional to shout out your number in case your number is not easily visible to the timekeeper. Continue down the road, riding gently to warm down. 

Please do not distract the timekeeper by asking your time - they have an important job to do. 

What do I do with my race number?

*Note that under COVID-19 rules, numbers are disposable and do not need to be returned to HQ. However, you MUST sign out of the event at the end.*

Please do not take this home with you! You MUST return your race number to the meeting point or event HQ as soon as you finish, and sign the sign out sheet to confirm you have returned to HQ safely.  

Time trial event numbers are heavy fabric numbers which are reusable (unlike the disposable numbers used in triathlons); they belong to the organising club and are an expensive investment.

Open events often provide a free cup of tea or coffee at the HQ when you return your number.  Cake is also usually available at the HQ for a small charge.

How will I find out my result for the race?

*Note that under COVID-19 rules, there is no results board at HQ and no catering.*

Club events: After crossing the finish line, continue riding and cool down and return to the meeting point. After all riders have finished the timekeeper will come back to the meeting point and let everyone know their time.

Open events: After crossing the finish line, continue riding and cool down and return to the HQ. The results will be displayed at the HQ on a results board. A prize presentation is usually made at the HQ after the event.  You should also receive a formal results sheet by email soon after the event.  If you have won a prize and were not able to collect it at the HQ, this will usually be posted to you soon after the event.