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A Beginners Guide To Time Trialling In The UK

cyclists time trialling in the uk

If you’re looking to take cycling from a hobby to a sport, or perhaps try out a different means of cycling competitively, time trialling is a thrilling way to take on the road. It focuses on individual performance, ultimately, it boils down to you against the clock.

Time trialling is a form of cycling competition where cyclists are set off in intervals (normally every one minute) and ride a specific distance from a start to finish point as quickly as possible.

Typical distances within the UK are normally  10 , 25 , 50 and 100 miles spanning a variety of courses and terrains.  

Here are some of the top things that it’s helpful to know before getting started:

  • Get registered. To get yourself on the start line you will firstly need to register with Cycling Time Trials (CTT). Simply head over to and click register. Once registered , you will be able to filter your search via distance, location and race type. This will help you get a better understanding of what races are in your area. Once you have chosen your desired event, then simply enter and pay your entry fee. You should receive a confirmation email once entry has been accepted by the organiser. 
  • Check your kit. As a beginner you may not be willing to invest in a lot of money on a specific time trial bike. Luckily, CTT understands this and has separate categories depending on your bicycle of choice. As long as you have a safe, functioning road bike then you are good to go! There are some mandatory pieces of equipment that you will need. These include a helmet (up to the highest current safety standard), cycling shoes, a front and rear light and some comfortable cycling clothing, including padded shorts and lycra.
  • Start training. Once you have entered into your time trial it is important that you begin to train for the specific distance of your race. Generally speaking; if you are doing a shorter time trial you need to be working on developing your top end power – whereas, if you are entered into a longer time trial you will need to be developing your muscular endurance. Following a training plan will help you to stay focused, motivated and help you use your time efficiently to achieve your goals. This can be done through a 1-2-1 coach, coaching apps or online plans. These all vary in price depending on how much involvement you would like. 
  • On the day. So, your training is complete and you are ready to hit the start line! On the morning of the race, make sure you arrive with plenty of time. It is always surprising how much ‘faff’ there is involved at the beginning of the race. Once you arrive at the HQ you will need to sign on. This is a safety protocol – the organisers need to know how many people are on the course to ensure all those people return safely. At sign on you will be given a number and your allocated time slot – make sure these are pinned on nice and tightly to avoid them flapping around in the wind! Once you have got your bike prepped, tyres pumped, water and nutrition stored then it is time to warm up. Make sure you leave enough time to get a  good warm up in. However, make sure you don’t go too far away as you will need to be back to the start line at your given time. Sometimes, the start lines can be a fair distance away from the HQ, so allow enough time and plan appropriately.  Time to put all your training into practice – don’t forget to enjoy yourself! You will set off normally in 1 minute intervals. This makes the race as fair as possible.
  • The race. Be aware that the roads will not normally be closed for your race (unless you’ve specifically entered into a closed circuit) so you must abide by the rules of the road. If you catch the person in front of you , ensure it is safe to do so. Once you have checked for traffic then you may overtake and continue your ride. 
  • At the finish. Once you have reached the finish, continue cycling – do not stop. Traffic will continue to go past you, so it is good practice to continue through the finish line until it is safe to pull over or just continue a gentle ride back towards the HQ.  Once back at the HQ you will need to sign out and return your number. This just allows the organisers to know you have returned safely.  Many organisers will then have your live results waiting for you. Be proud of your achievements – you’ve just completed your first time trial this gives you a great baseline to continue to develop your riding and racing. 
  • Post-race. Enjoy your post race tea and cake hosted by the organisers and cycling club. This is a great post race treat and a lovely way to meet people within the time-trialling community, who will be willing to share some top tips and previous experiences with you. 

Cycling Time Trials (CTT) is the UK’s time trial national governing body and offers a range of events across the UK, set over a variety of distances and terrains.