About Time Trials
Historically, time trials were shrouded in secrecy as cycle racing was banned on British road. By riding separately, time trialists could be seen to be ‘going about their normal business’ rather than racing. Riders wore inconspicuous clothing and courses were named with a code system – such as P128 – that’s used to this day.
Time trials today
Nowadays the secrecy is gone, although it can still look a bit impenetrable. Typically, a time trial start will see a group of cyclists in a layby on a Tuesday evening. The course start and finish might be small marks on a kerbstone. Only a few marshals in brightly coloured vests and perhaps some fold-out signs saying ‘cycle race in progress’ indicate that there’s anything going on. It’s not like popping down to the leisure centre. Yet it’s not as cliquey as it may appear, and most local cycling clubs are only too happy to see new faces.
Time trials in the top events
Moreover, time trial stages are usually included in most of the ‘Grand Tour’ events like the Tour De France, so top riders need to be skilled at the discipline. Historically British riders have excelled ‘against the clock’ with the likes of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Chris Boardman and Sean Yates all achieving success on the continent using their time trialling skills.