Paracyclist Jon Gildea Learning to Time Trial

Riding against the clock and racing against yourself is not easy. Until recently I’d been focussed on road competition and I knew I had a long way to go to refine my TT skills.

There is a specific Time Trial race in the Paralympics, so I have been super keen to begin my progression towards being in contention for 2016.

I rode my first club 9m TT in July last year knowing that it was something that I needed to put some focus into in 2014. I managed a time of 21.05 which was respectable on a road bike and especially as I hadn’t rode a TT before.

TT Pic 2

Obsession with speed includes equipment. Merlin Cycles were good enough to sponsor me with a Sensa Dura TT bike (this is an old post and the linked content no longer exists) for the 2014 season to help me towards my goal. From the first ride, I could immediately tell that I was going to go fast on the bike, it felt fantastic and super quick.

I went out for an hour on local roads and even with traffic lights and a ton of traffic I averaged over 21 mph for the ride. The Time Trial position riding on the ski’s wasn’t unfamiliar to me luckily as I had learnt to ride on the ski’s on my track bike last year, so I couldn’t wait to race and see what I could do.

I rode my club TT the next day and managed a relatively impressive time of 19.40 which made me quickest on the night, however, I still had a long way to go. Over the next few weeks I was able to keep improving steadily and worked hard on smoothing out my effort over the courses I was racing on.

My instinct was to go out from the start flat out and smash myself to bits going too fast over the first half of the course which left me ruined for the second half. This was probably a rookie error, so I used a power metre back wheel to monitor the average power that I put out over the course and looked to keep my watts at an average pace of around 400 watts. This is how I got below the 19m mark on the club TT for the first time, the club record was 18.56 so I was getting close!

I spent time working on my positioning on the bike, dropping the handlebars by a huge chunk making me much more aero, buying a chopped fizik TT seat so I could get sat forward and get more power down, also pulling my ski’s in shorter, which gave me the same aggressive position as my track bike.

TT Pic

I then bit the bullet and invested heavily in some aero kit – a time trial disc wheel and carbon front wheel with very quick tyres and a very aero Kask helmet. I then went back and got my club TT record down to 18.34 and after some hard work on the turbo went back the week later and got it down to 18.20 pretty much exactly a year after I had done my first ride of 21.05 on the same course. This gave me confidence to take to the Para Cycling World Cups.

The format for the Para Cycling world Cups & World Champs tends to be a TT on the Friday and Road Race on the Sunday.

So far this year, I have picked up 7th & 8th places at the Para Cycling World Cups in Italy & Spain. I also won the international P1 Para Cycling TT in Switzerland. I’m happy with my results as I’m still a relative beginner and have lots to learn.

I’ve really enjoyed getting into time trial racing this year and understand what gets people hooked, racing each week to improve on your best and averaging silly fast speeds that you wouldn’t have imagined possible.

I’d like to be the best that I can be – earning a new nickname from my British Cycling Development Team mates ‘100% Jon’.

I’m really looking forward to 2015 to see if I can get under the illusive 18m mark on my club TT and get onto the podium at world level!

Feel free to share your time trial experiences and if any of you out there has access to a wind tunnel to validate my TT riding position to help me to be more efficient – please get in touch with a comment below!

I intend to keep you all informed of my progress throughout the Team GB Paracycling Development Programme and help answer any questions that you may have about my experience.

I’m on Twitter as well as Facebook, if you’d like follow my progress please say hi and help to cheer me on!

Jon Gildea

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