Cycling – time trials

My triathlon training plan this round involved cycling time trial to gauge my speed and fitness. I’d never done a cycling time trial – in fact, I still haven’t really. Time trials are generally 10 miles / 16km long and basically involve pushing yourself as fast as you can over that distance so you almost die by the end of it. Consider it like a slightly longer 5km race.

The first one I did was on the spin bike as it was just a few weeks after I’d moved to Madrid and I had no idea where would be a good road for a time trial. I managed 10 miles in around 31 minutes, but was unsure how my time on the spin bike would relate to being on the road.

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Then this week I had to do the second time trial. I decided to do it on the road, I knew I wouldn’t be able to see how much I’d improved, but I thought it would be much better training for me. I struggled to find a route but eventually decided I would try one in Casa de Campo – 4km long meant 2 out & backs, with a roundabout at each end which I thought would make turning easier and faster.

It was a disaster. First it was really hot – around 35 degrees. No point in complaining about that as my triathlon will be at a similar temperature, if not hotter. Shortly after taking off, a small child decided to get off their bike and walk in front of my path. Braked, swerved, kept going. For a few moments all was good. The road was clear apart from other cyclists on smart bikes with their heads down, doing similar things. It was a bit uphill, but only gradually so I didn’t mind too much. Then the hill ramped up to over 6%. You just don’t want those kind of gradients in a time trial. I got a bit fed up and demoralised as I watched my average speed fall. Up and up we went. It flattened out a bit towards the end, BUT then…… As the roundabout was just outside the park, there was a barrier across my path so that cars couldn’t drive into the park. The barrier leaves narrow gaps at each edge for bikes to get through and I’d done this with no problem at the beginning of the time trial. At this end, however, to get to those gaps I had to cycle over SAND. There was no way I was powering into sand on my road-bike at 40kph – especially not when trying to manouvere my bike through a narrow gap. And on the other side of the barrier were numerous cars attempting to park with all the reversing and unclear manouveres that entails.

Just as I was feeling really fed up, my phone rang – turned out my Dad had got the time of his flight to Madrid wrong and had arrived in the city an hour earlier than he’d told me. So I decided to power my way back to the start, complete half the time trial, and then go to my flat so I could be there when he arrived (I was about 10 minutes late in the end).

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The park at 7am in the morning… maybe that is the answer – get up earlier?!

I really enjoyed the 4km back to the start – mainly downhill or on the flat I was zooooming along and pushing myself. In fact, I saw the highest heart rate I’ve seen since I’ve started tracking – 198BPM. But with the uphill, the people, the sand and the crappy turn-around I didn’t manage to average over 30kph which was annoying.

So my query is – how to time trial? And where?  I want a good road, relatively flat without any steep hills. I want no traffic lights. I don’t want children, or sand, or barriers. And I want it to be around 8km long. This seems impossible to find if you live in a city! Or am I just being far too fussy, and as long as I always do the time trial in the same place none of those things matter?

Juneathon’s day 5 exercise = not entirely sure yet! I walked over 20km yesterday exploring Madrid with my Dad AND did the aborted time trial (still over an hour of cycling). Can I just share all that out over two days?! And I’m about to go and do a whole lot more walking. Fingers crossed I get in a plank and a few abs workouts this evening …. although that will depend on how much wine I drink tonight 🙂

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2 comments

  1. First, get out of town. Second, ride early, Sunday is my favorite because the streets are quiet. Finally, if nothing comes to mind, go to the bike shop and ask them… They’ll know where and when. 😎

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