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Times trials ... the 'race of truth'

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:53 am
by LuckyPierre
On Saturday, the ACT Vets held their 'age standard time trial' at Lookout Hill.
Our age standards are based on information provided by the Australian Time Trial Association. There was quite a bit of debate about it in the Vets discussion group, initially focussing on whether it was appropriate to use 20km times when our course was 'only 19km'. That was a bit misleading, because its usually described as 'about 19km' and most bike computers put it somewhere between 19.7 and 19.9km. Then the issue of 'flatness' got discussed. I think that the course is definitely not flat!
One thing is definite - time trials are the 'race of truth'. Some riders are sceptical about the benefit you get hidden in the bunch, but you can't kid yourself in a time trial.

Obviously, terrain and weather conditions can play a part, but here's some observations that I can draw from the event on Saturday.

My average speed (30.3km/hr) was nearly 3km/hr slower than I've been achieving in road races - and over 5km/hr slower than a couple of criteriums (that were only a whisker shorter) back in the summer season. :?
Only three of my fellow F-graders were quicker than their age standard - and yes, they were all older than me. :oops: But, my time was quicker than all of them. :wink: In fact, the slowest actual time in F-grade was recorded by the second highest placed F-grade rider against age standard (10th overall). My time was second fastest, yet I placed fifth out of eight in my grade (37th overall), so the age standard puts a new twist on handicapping.
The 'under vs over' ratio was positive for A-grade, even for C-grade and negative for D- through G-grades.
Overall, 1 woman beat her age standard and 3 didn't. Of the men, 20 were under their age standard, one equalled it and 29 were over. Interestingly, in the summer age standard time trial (over the same course in mid-January), 3 women were under and 6 over their age standard, whereas 29 men were under and only 18 over ther age standard. Even more interestingly, of the 17 men who did both time trials, all but one had a 'better' result in the summer event - as did the only woman to do both. Maybe weather is a real factor. No, it wasn't me that was the odd one out, I was in a bus on my way back from the Jamboree.

All up, it was a good day, despite the wind and a finish that was right on top of the hill. :)

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 10:59 am
by sogood
That's great!

It's interesting how different a good time trialist is to that of a sprinter and climber.

With reference to the age standard, I look forward to my upcoming birthday so that I can have an extra 15s buffer. :D

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:13 am
by MichaelB
Looks like a good course.

I like the idea of the age standard vs all out time. Mind you, still to average over 30 km/hr including hills is a very good effort.

Just had a quick calc - For my age, I'd have to average 36.36km/hr for the 20km :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

Bugger me, even an 80 year old needs to average 26.96km/hr to beat their std time :shock: :shock:

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 11:21 am
by sogood
MichaelB wrote:Just had a quick calc - For my age, I'd have to average 36.36km/hr for the 20km :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

That should be quite doable if the course if flat and without significant wind. But damn those hills and wind. :wink:

One other question is, how were those age standards derived? Are they with TT bikes or regular road bikes? The difference in power output can be very significant with vs without aero gear.

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 2:59 pm
by LuckyPierre
MichaelB wrote: Bugger me, even an 80 year old needs to average 26.96km/hr to beat their std time :shock: :shock:

We had a 69 year old who was under his age standard (average 30.03 km/hr) and a 72 year old who didn't make it - but averaged 25.77 km/hr - with us on Saturday. So you'd better start practicing if you want to keep up with them. :wink:
sogood wrote: ... how were those age standards derived? Are they with TT bikes or regular road bikes? ...

I'm sure that the ATTA site has some explanation of how their age standards are dervived. I've had a quick look and there aren't any rules published, but the photo gallery has plenty of fully specced TT bikes in it. We are allowed to use TT bikes/ equipment. Only two riders rode with disc wheels on Saturday and there were more than that last time. I expect that the wind meant that they got left at home, or in the car. There was quite a few bikes with deep aero rims and / or tt bars and only 1 'silly hat'.
I use clip-on aero bars on my road bike. It would be good to go a bit further and have gear shifters on aero the bars, but it's too much hassle to change over for one event every six months. I might think about it some more for the next one - I stripped a thread in one of my bars mounting blocks, so I only had three bolts, not four holding them on. If I can get a reasonable deal on tt bars on eBay I go for a bit more bling! :)

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:26 pm
by mikesbytes
Hi Peter, do you have a list of the age standards ?

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:29 pm
by MichaelB
mikesbytes wrote:Hi Peter, do you have a list of the age standards ?


Link is in the second line of the first post

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 5:45 pm
by LuckyPierre
Hi Mike, see what Mike said. :wink:
That link takes you to the 20km age standards that we used for our race. The ATTA publishes a full set at www.atta.asn.au - just go to the 'Age Standards' page via the 'Other Pages and Links' selector. I haven't played with their calculator, but you should be able to set up pretty well anything.

Posted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 6:43 pm
by mikesbytes
Interesting figures.

Did you notice that the womans is the same as the mens 8 years older.

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:42 pm
by nimm
What sort of fitness level do you need to be at to reach the age standard times? (shortcut link: http://www.atta.asn.au/results/standards.html)

I'm in my mid 29s and just got back from a pretty hard ride to get 33.4km/hr over 40km (although it's rather windy here in Perth) but that chart has me needing to hit 38km/hr to make my age standard!

To put that into perspective, that puts me a good 7 minutes behind over 40km!

BTW lol down the bottom of the page "... we allow a factor of 1.58 for a Penny Farthing ..."

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 3:56 pm
by sogood
nimm wrote:What sort of fitness level do you need to be at to reach the age standard times? (shortcut link: http://www.atta.asn.au/results/standards.html)

I'm in my mid 29s and just got back from a pretty hard ride to get 33.4km/hr over 40km (although it's rather windy here in Perth) but that chart has me needing to hit 38km/hr to make my age standard!

Per earlier discussions, TT riders use aero equipment. A difference of 5km/h is not unheard of with good aero assistance.

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:23 pm
by mikesbytes
Those figures don't take into account the conditions of the ride, so a direct comparison isn't totally correct.

Where they are really useful is in comparison between age and gender. If you married a lady 8 years younger than yourself, she should be able to keep up :D

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:40 pm
by nimm
lol good thinking :)

Posted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 8:18 pm
by LuckyPierre
nimm wrote:What sort of fitness level do you need to be at to reach the age standard times? ..."

I think that you'd need to be pretty fit. The three fastest times recorded on Saturday were 27:54 (42.37km/hr), 30:01 (39.38km/hr) and 30:36 (38:63km/hr). But, before you think that going aero and reaching your age standard would get you near the podium, the ages of those three riders were 45, 48 and 39 respectively. :? In the age standard handicap, they finished 1st, 2nd and 7th respectively.
From memory, they were all on tt bikes, two had 'funny hats' and one chose not to use his disc wheel because of the wind (the others stuck with theirs).