Cycling Time Trials is the National Governing Body for time trials in England, Scotland and Wales.

In the 1880s the bicycle was the fastest thing on the road and man on a bicycle was the boss!

Naturally enough people wanted to see who was fastest and Cycle Racing on the Highways started.

Initially it was more like what we now know as road racing where all the competitors started together and the first to cross the line won.

With the introduction of the motor car all this changed, with events being pushed off the road and held on velodromes. However there were those who still wanted to compete on the road.

One of these, FT Bidlake by name, came up with a plan. If each rider were to be dispatched separately and just timed over the course, he wouldn’t be seen to be racing, just going about his normal business a bit quick like! Then the person covering the course in the shortest time could be (secretly) declared the winner.

So Time Trialling came into being.

In the early days (and until relatively recently) it was a fairly simple matter of finding a convenient place to start an event, measuring half the intended distance of the event up the road, noting the place where a marshal was to be stationed to turn the riders, and fixing the finish opposite the start. Traffic conditions have all but put paid to that sort of simplicity. Now courses have to be designed with turning points at convenient flyovers or roundabouts, starts and finishes are rarely very close together, and the provision of a HQ with changing facilities is high on the priority list.

As the years have passed, various changes have been made. Time Triallists no longer have to meet in secret, wearing what was called “inconspicuous clothing”. Pre-event publicity, has been allowed for as long as most people can remember, and prize winners are allowed to receive cash prizes.

The idea of individuals riding “against the clock” and ignoring any other rider who they catch or who catches them still holds true for the majority of events today but there are also events which are for teams of two, three or four riders who ride together known as Team Time Trials – shortened to 2up/3up/4up TTTs.

Events held on flattish main roads and following a more-or-less “out and home” pattern are still in the majority but with the increasing level of traffic there has been a tendency for more events of a so called “sporting” nature to take place. These are often on hillier roads and usually follow circuit type courses so that the route can be followed by using only left turns. This means, the problems associated with the long “spear-point” intersections of dual carriageway roads can be avoided.

Many over 40s take part in Time Trials and the VTTA (Veterans Time Trials Association) devised a system of “Standards”. These are only for those 40 years old and more and consists of a table of allowable times at each age for all the standard distances competed at. To work out the result of an event each rider’s time is compared to his Standard and the difference (±) is credited. The winner is the rider with the most plus.

About 1200 open events are advertised in the handbook this year. To ride in any of them you need to be a member of a club affiliated to Cycling Time Trials. There are at least that number again of “Club Events” (which are generally not advertised) and if you approach the club promoting one of them you could get a ride on a “come and try it” basis.