Final Prep for Masters Road Nationals: Optimizing your effort for time trialing


By Brian Walton
Last month I took a dedicated group of athletes out to the Pennsylvania State time trial course the week before the race in order to fine tune their racing strategies for the following weekend's State Time Trial Championships. However, the majority of the athletes participating in the 2013 USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships will not have the luxury of reconing the course the week before the race and, in most cases, it will be the day before.
Obviously, I cannot stress enough the importance of previewing the course. Personally, I’m a fan of driving the course and then riding the course. Seeing the course as many times as possible will bring familiarity which in turn will bring “comfort” to the individual. From there, you can put together a personalized strategy for attacking the course as best as possible and gearing it toward your strengths.
Below are three top tips and strategies that I recommend for the Prineville Time Trial course where Masters will race the clock for national titles in Bend this week. (There's also a power file comparison of the top 2 riders in the 35+ race category in the Pennsylvania State Championship.)
CONCENTRATION: One of the greatest strengths of a good time trialist is the ability to focus for the entire duration of the time trial. Prineville, the championship course, is not a flat course. As a result, cyclists will need to constantly shift gears in order to maintain the highest maximum speed as well as maximize true potential. The goal is to leave everything out on the course and finish with nothing left in the tank.
SPEED OVER POWER: Due to the rolling terrain of the course, it is very difficult to generate a steady, consistent power. Therefore, any field test, lactate threshold test or interval training that a rider has completed will be next to impossible to translate into a power pacing strategy unless the rider has ridden the course numerous times. Since the course is a relatively short (20, 30 or 40km, or 30 minutes to one hour) effort, the key is to go as fast as possible. Use big gears to your advantage on the downhill sections and keep momentum on the uphill sections.
REDUCE TO SMALL SEGMENTS: – As is the case with any task, breaking down an effort into smaller efforts makes the task more manageable.  Riders can break a 20-kilometer time trial into four five-kilometer efforts. This strategy helps a rider concentrate.  The Prineville course is out and back. Therefore, if there is a raging headwind on the way out, realize that there will be a tailwind on the return. Keep a positive attitude. Everyone is racing the same course and experiencing the same conditions.
Walton Endurance athletes David X and Mike Y placed first and second at the 35+ PA State Time Trial Championships. They have significantly different styles of riding. As a coach, the goal is not to change their styles significantly but to optimize their strengths and focus on the details that can result in saving time. Read more about the power file comparison between Mike and David.

About the Author
Brian Walton was a professional cyclist for 12 years and raced for 7-11, Motorola and Saturn. He competed in three Olympics on both the road and track and in 1996 he won a silver medal in the points race. One of Brian’s best accomplishments was winning the Pays Basque Time Trial over Miguel Indurain…the last time Indurain lost a TT for over 5 years. After retiring from professional cycling, at the end of the 2000 season, he began coaching and was the Director of Team Snow Valley; an amateur cycling team. In 2003, he guided Snow Valley, to a National Championship and Top 10 National ranking against all the professional teams. Brian won the USA Cycling Development Coach of the Year. From 2004 until 2012, Brian worked at Cadence Cycling and Multisport where he created and developed the Performance & Training side of the business. In 2012, Brian founded Walton Endurance, a coaching and training center geared towards cyclists of all abilities from Pro Tour riders to enthusiasts.  For more information please visit or inquiries at 

This Article Updated September 4, 2013 @ 03:05 PM For more information contact: