It's a pretty simple set up. A start stripe, 5k out, a turnaround, 5k back, and a finish stripe. A couple of team members sign everyone up, number their calves, stage the riders, start them, and time them. The cost is $10 for members, and $15 for non-members, and all funds are recycled into the time trial series for purchase of better timing equipment and other gear. The team tries to keep it simple, as the time trial is on an open public road, and it happens to be along part of one of my favorite cycling routes in the Rio Grande Valley. The photo below shows the start and finish area:
As with any event, there is a wide range of ability and equipment. There are cyclists in full time trial kit, riding some of the best time trial bikes on the market. There are roadies that ride in their regular road kits, with regular road set-up, on their regular road bike, which is what I will do if my life ever lines up properly with the time trial schedule. There are beginners, and there are advanced cyclists. It is really an all-inclusive event, without any prejudice against skill or fitness level. It's just you, your equipment and ability, and the course. Here's one of the faster time trialers at the start:
Here's a Team McAllen team member on his road bike, and in his road kit. He's hammering hard, and getting his speed up to target. He doesn't seem to even notice I'm there, which saved him a few seconds.
The next photo is of a young, strong cyclist that I've had the pleasure of riding with on some long rides through the south Texas countryside. Unlike the time trialler in the previous photo, this one has noticed me taking a photo, and I think I distracted him. It probably cost him a second or two on his time!
As the time trial continued, I snapped a few photos of cyclists near the finish line. When I got home and reviewed the photos, I noticed the different riding forms of the riders. In the next two photos, there are two roadies in road kit and with road bike set-up. Both are in the drops, and both are pushing hard. The finish line is in sight for each of them. I'm not an expert on bike set-up, and don't have the knowledge to critique, and probably wouldn't if I did, but the difference in form and posture is interesting to me. The first photo shows a rider with his back nearly parallel to the ground, head lifted slightly to see the road. He has moved back on the saddle. The second photo shows a rider that is in the drops too, but not as far down on the bars. His back isn't as low, and he isn't as far back on the saddle. I'm not sure which is better, or if "better" even applies, but the difference is interesting to me. I'll be sure to research this a little before I ride my first time trial.
Finally, I took a photo of two of the time triallers as they rode within 100 meters of the finish. They started with about a two minute gap, and the first rider has narrowly avoided getting passed. It would make me want to ride with mirrors, because if I was in front and noticed the gap closing, I think knowing that I was a gazelle with a cheetah on my tail would help me go a bit faster. Then again, if you're about to puke and your legs are burning, you might have no choice but to "let" the cheetah catch you.
If you're ever in the Rio Grande Valley for business or pleasure, or if you live here and want to participate, come out to the time trials. It'll be fun, and you'll at least know your 10K time on the course. You can find details at the Team McAllen website. Maybe if you're there, the planets will line up and I'll be riding with you.
*** May 3, 2009 Update ***
One of the Team McAllen crew took some video at the time trial and created this nice little composition...