A Time Trial is cycling in it's simplest form, you riding alone as fast as you can. You don't need to be super fast to take part as you are racing against yourself as much as others. There is no getting dropped on the first lap and little cleaning of the bike unlike cyclo cross. It's relatively cheap to enter and with early starts you can often be home before the rest of the house has missed you.
Time Trials became popular in Britain in 1950's when road racing was banned. Strange codes for courses with lamp posts as reference points defined the races with set distances of 10, 25, 50 and 100 miles. Thankfully some things have improved in the last few years and most event now accept online entries.
Club TTs are a great place to start. Less formal than Open events which require pre entry 12 days in advance, club events are usually entry on the line. You will need to be a member of a cycling club or triathlon club that is affiliated to CTT. Southborough Wheelers run a great season on club events starting in March and running through to September, http://www.southborough-wheelers.co.uk/time-trials/club-time-trials . Other local Club TT include the Bexley CC 10 mile TT near Brands hatch on a Wednesday evening from mid April , http://www.ccbexley.com/evenening-10-tt/.
You can find a full list of open events on the Cycling Time Trials website.
Do I need a Fancy Aero TT bike?
There is no doubt that a aero TT bike is the fastest bike in a straight line and there aren't many corners in TT's, but there is no rule against riding a road bike and many events have a separate category for road bikes now. Adding some clip on aero bars to your road bike and some tweaks to your position and you can achieve an efficient aero position to start Time Trialing on.
80% of the aero drag is caused by the rider so reducing your frontal area is key to going faster. A good set of adjustable aero bars like the Profile Aero Strykes will allow you to be competitive when riding at speed in a TT.
After a good aero position some tight fitting clothing is the next big time saving with one piece skinsuits the weapon of choice for the serious racer. There are now a large range of race fit cycling jerseys and speedsuits that are slightly more forgiving than a skinsuit if you are not pushing single digit body fat.
The third relatively inexpensive way to save time in a TT is an aero helmet. You can choose to go for the aero road lid like a Giro Air Attack or Scott Cadence which will save 5-10 watts compared to a fully vented helmet. These have the advantage of being lighter and better ventiliated than a full aero lid and also better if you are moving around on a hilly TT course.
On a flatter TT with your position dialed in and stable a full aero lid will save another 5-10 watts. Which helmet is fastest depends on the rider and their position but the most important thing is fit so try a few on. A good quality visor is important to get the most out of the aero gains and can replace sunglasses on a summers day. We have a selection of aero lids from Kask, POC and the new Giro Aerohead lids to try.
You can get some free speed by making sure your gears are clean and well lubed. This can save 10 watts and cost virtually nothing. A good chain cleaning tool from Park or Muc off and a ceramic dry lube will reduce friction and ensure everything works smoothly on race day.
Finally some tight fitting shoe covers can help to smooth the air over your feet and save 5-10 watts. Velotoze are popular for keeping your feet dry and being fast. They also come in a range of colours to match your kit or bike.
Time Trials are an easy fun way to start racing whatever your fitness level. It is easy and rewarding to see your progress over time and you don't need to invest much to get faster ( at first). Southborough Wheelers run a few come and try it events throughout the season for non members with full details on their website.