Ah, time trialing. The race of truth, just you against the clock. With the Zipp High Desert Speed Challenge coming up this weekend, plus Tour of Watopia’s Stage 6 time trial May 13-19th, it seems now is the time to deliver some tips for time trial racing on Zwift. Enjoy, and share your tips in the comments!

#1: Know Yourself

Self-knowledge is such an important part of racing, and the only way to get it is through experience.

The more you ride, the more you’ll learn what threshold work really feels like–and this is so important for time trials. Yes, you can use the numbers on screen and try to hold a particular wattage–but what if you are a little fatigued going into your ride? Or what if you’re actually stronger than your last FTP test indicated? This is where being able to “feel” your threshold is so important, as it lets you push to the max of what you can handle right now.

It’s also important to know how quickly you recover from over-threshold efforts. Are you the type of rider who really needs to hold a steady effort, or can you throw in regular over-threshold efforts then recover? This will determine how you attack different portions of a course, especially when it’s a hilly time trial.

#2: Know the Route

Experienced racers always get out early to recce the course, because (as we’ll see below) this lets you plan your effort. Outside rides present many more variables as well: wind, weather, road surface, etc.

Time trialing on Zwift removes many of these variables. Additionally, all the Zwift route details you need are available within a few clicks. Check out our Zwift Course Maps and Details page to access detailed descriptions of every Zwift route.

#3: Don’t Skip the Warmup

When your race begins you’ll go from zero to threshold quickly, and this will be a shock to your system if you aren’t sufficiently warmed up before the start. Take the time to perform a complete warmup, beginning with easy spinning then ramping up to threshold heart rate levels.

How much warmup do you need? This varies from rider to rider, but keep in mind the shorter the race, the longer the warmup. A 20km TT may require a 30 minute warmup, while a 40km TT may require 15-20 minutes. Shorter races are ridden at higher power levels, thus requiring more substantial warmups.

You should be at the start line sweating and thoroughly warmed up. Ready? Let’s go!

#4: Start Slow

Don’t come out of the gate with guns blazing. Get up to speed quickly, but don’t fatigue yourself early. Riders commonly overcook themselves in the first few minutes of a time trial due to adrenaline, excitement, and fresh legs. Don’t fall into the trap!

#5: Over-Pace Uphill, Recover Downhill

If your route is anything but pan-flat you will want to plan your power on the hills. To keep it simple, try to hold 5-10% over your “race pace” power when climbing, then let yourself drop a bit lower on the descents. This will maximize your overall race speed.

It’s easy to cook yourself when the climb starts and the resistance increases, but don’t do it! Rather, start slightly over pace, then increase the level of over-pacing so you can finish strong and accelerate over the top. This is known as “progressive over-pacing.”

Your Tips?

That’s all from me. What about you, any TT tips to share? Comment below!