Individual Time Trials
About those Spinners Time Trials
(Excerpts of Layne Simpson's 2009 post on the club's Yahoo group. Note that not all time trials have free hot dogs and a swap meet. Look for the announcements for details.)
I rode my first time trial on Thursday afternoon of last week. It was the second in a series of
four held annually by the Greenville Spinners at Donaldson. I am not
into racing but I had some cycling stuff I needed to sell so when I
learned that the June event would include a swap meet, I began to
seriously consider attending. Then when I heard that FREE grilled-on-the
spot HOTDOGS along with several tasty side dishes would be served, I made
the decision to take the plunge. And since I would already be there
making lots of money selling stuff and devouring FREE HOTDOGS, I figured,
what the heck, I might as well participate in the time trials.
If you have watched this event on TV you know that the competitors wear
funny-looking pointy helmets and they ride special-purpose bikes replete
with aero-style handlebars and wheels that look like pancakes. Prior to
participating in the Spinners time trial, I figured I would be one of
very few in attendance riding a conventional road bike and not wearing a
pointy helmet, but I was wrong by a country mile. I have no idea what
the percentages were among the 60 or so who signed up, but in looking
around, it appeared that casual cyclists like me were about equal in
number to the really serious guys and gals. In fact, we may have
outnumbered them by a bike or two.
In case you are not familiar with the procedure, it is quite simple.
During registration you are given a start time and a number to pin to the
back of your jersey. Riders start in one-minute intervals and your time
is determined by how long it takes for you to complete a 10-mile,
there-and-back on Perimeter road at Donaldson (keep an eye out for the
fellow standing at the five-mile turn-around point). After completing
your run you then have the options of selling that cycling stuff you no
longer need (or buying something you do need at a bargain price), all the
while munching away on a FREE HOTDOG.
The playing field is leveled by dividing the racers into several of their
own categories while the casual riders are divided into age groups such
as Junior, 30-39 years old, 40-49 years, 50-59 years and 60 years plus.
In other words, if you are old enough to remember whitewall tires and
black & white TV, you will not be competing against someone who thinks
the world has always twittered and tweeted and face-booked and all those
other silly things.
I rode the same bike I ride every day and while I made no modifications
to it for the time trial, I did trim away a few ounces by leaving the
undersaddle bag and its contents behind. By arriving early, I had plenty
of time to register and to do a 20-minute warmup ride before starting my
run. To make my self as aerodynamic as possible, I stayed in the drops for the
I had not ridden a time trial before, but I had previously timed myself at
Donaldson on a couple of bikes with steel and carbon fiber frames to see
how my speed on them compared. So when riding the Spinners event I
already had a time in mind to beat. As it turned out, I beat my personal
best by almost a minute, no doubt due to the total absence of a headwind,
along with the fact that knowing someone else is running the stopwatch
makes you try harder.
The moral to this story is you don't have to be a racer to enjoy the time
trials at Donaldson. In fact, you don't have to participate in the time
trials to have fun. I really enjoyed the ride but I also enjoyed the
cheerful, carnival-like atmosphere of the entire event. I also enjoyed
the opportunity to socialize with friends in the cycling community.
An event like this doesn't just happen; it is the result of a lot of hard
work by a group of volunteers who do a great job of making the time
trials fun for everyone. And the price is right too---everything is FREE
to Spinners members (yet another of many great benefits that come with a
The first rider blasts off at 6:00 PM so try to get there early enough to register and to warm up for a few minutes before your ride time.
See you there,
PS: Did I mention those FREE HOTDOGS?