Time Trials

What is Time Trialing?

Time trials are races against the clock ridden on open roads, where riders are set off at regularly spaced intervals on a set course. Common course distances are 10, 25 and 50 miles, although these are not fixed. While positions and prizes may be allocated for fastest times, the spirit of the competition is about beating your personal best.

While almost any well-maintained, non assisted bicycle will be fine, keen time trial riders often make use of specialist equipment such as aero bars, aerodynamic helmets and deep profile wheels to try to make themselves as fast as possible.

Hill climbs

Hill climbs are a specific form of time trial, usually taking place in the autumn. Typically, these events involve riding a relatively short, steep gradient, with riders competing for the quickest time to climb a hill from bottom to top.


Open events and club events


Time trial events and hill climbs are organised as either open or club events. Club events are generally more informal, offering entry on the day. These often take place on weekday evenings during the summer months. Open events are more formal and require entry in advance. Open events often take place at the weekend, with some races offering prizes.

Image: City Cycle Couriers RT

Find out more about CSSH Club Time Trials on our Club Rides page

What's good about it?


  • You can take part in a time trial on most types of unassisted bicycle. A standard road bike is the usual choice for anyone not riding a dedicated aero bike.

  • Allocated start times and a choice of distances means that time trials are often the easiest form of racing to fit in around a busy schedule.

  • Race fees are usually cheap, helping to keep the cost of competing down.

  • By riding the same course and comparing your time, you can compete against yourself in a way that isn't possible in other forms of racing.

  • Time trials are often referred to as 'the race of truth' - you don't need to worry too much about tactics and strategy.

What's not so great?


  • Races take place on open roads, with some courses involving dual carriageway and derestricted roads. Cyclists competing need to be aware of other road users while racing

  • It's very easy to get caught up in buying expensive kit to try to improve your performance. Although you can't believe everything that manufacturers claim about the improvements their products bring, a rider using a dedicated time trial bike and an aero helmet will likely have an advantage over a similar rider using a standard road bike and regular helmet.

  • Entry to weekend (open) time trial events often close around a week in advance, sometimes more, meaning that you'll need to plan further in advance.

First race: Do

  • Check your bike is in good working order before the race. In addition to your bike, you'll need a helmet front and a rear lights. No lights = no ride

  • Turn up with plenty of time. Car parking isn’t always easy, so aim to arrive at least an hour before the start. It's not uncommon for the race HQ to be a mile or two from the start line, so make sure you've got plenty of time to ride there.

  • If possible, ride the course in advance. If not, driving it is a useful but definitely inferior alternative. At very least, make sure you know where you're going

  • Thank marshals and race organisers

Image: City Cycle Couriers RT

First race: Don't

  • Don't draft. In time trials you cannot draft another rider - if you catch a rider, you must overtake and ride clear.

  • Don't miss your start. You will be given a precise, to-the-minute start time, at which point you must start. If you arrive late for any reason, you'll often have to wait until all other riders have started before starting your ride, with the time difference added onto your final race time.

  • Don't forget to ride safely. It's important not to take risks. Most races take place on open roads, so you must obey the highway code at all times, giving way at roundabouts and riding in the secondary position on busy roads.

  • Don't worry about what anyone else is riding, or how fast they seem to be going.


Anything else?

Cycle Sport South Hams is a club affiliated with the CTT (Cycling Time Trials) organisation. This means that members of CSSH are free to enter open time Trialling events. If you are not a member of CSSH (or another affiliated club) you will not be able to enter open events.


The best place to find out more about time Trialing events is the CTT website. Here, you'll be able to look at the events taking place in your area, find out more about the rules for taking part and enter events online. This article provides more information about your first time trial.

South West District Events

CSSH Club Time Trials for 2022

For more information about the our upcoming events and results from previous races check out the details on the CTT website here

South West District Cycling Time Trials

For more time trials in the South West check out the SW CTT website

Devon Cup

The Devon Cup Competition - this year sponsored by Nopinz and The Pump and Pedal. For more information visit https://devoncup.info/

South West BAR

The SW BAR is run over 3 distances for Men and Women (10, 25, & 50 miles), and 2 distances for Juniors (10, & 25 miles), and the riders with the fastest average speed over those distances will be the winners.

For more information check out the South West BAR website here