Chris Johnson ColoradoanWritten for the Coloradoan and republished with permission.

You’ll often hear the time trial referred to in cycling circles as the “race of truth.” There is no drafting, no team tactics, and generally less left to chance.

The time trial rewards preparation, mental and physical determination, and attention to details like bike aerodynamics, position and handling finesse. Indeed, at the Frostbite Time Trial a few weeks ago I hesitated and fumbled through my turnaround, and missed the next finish position by 4 seconds as a result.

The discouraging reality for some aspiring racers is — more so than in any other discipline — you can, to some extent, buy aerodynamic efficienc, in the form of expensive aero frames, helmets, wheels and skinsuits.

I’m resistant to the idea that this amounts to buying “speed,” as some suggest, since ultimately, the cyclist still provides the engine that moves the bike. But dedicated time trial gear increases the effectiveness of your training and position.

Debate about the fairness of aerogear has raged since its introduction, and debate about the role of technology and money in competition is as old as sport itself. Purists once derided the humble derailleur as unsporting. Clearly technology has an important and complicated role in sport, or we’d all still be banging sticks on rocks, barefoot.

But how do we balance welcoming progress and innovation against keeping cycling accessible and not pricing out kids or new racers who are curious to race but not committed enough (or able) to dedicate big bucks to an aero-rig they’ll only race a handful of times a year?


The Your Group Ride time trial series, starting April 2, and running each Tuesday in April, addresses this concern by offering separate categories for “Aero” racers — with TT specific helmets, wheels and aerobars, or “Merckx” (for the pre aero-bike hard man Eddy Merckx) — where your times are only tabulated against others with nonaero mass start legal road bikes (no aerobars, no disc wheels).

The first YGR series of the season is the popular Horsetooth Time Trial series, which was designed to mimic the pacing and terrain of the time trial at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico in May. The Course starts on Harmony west of Taft Hill, and attacks the series of short climbs up to the Horsetooth Mountain Park entrance before descending into Buckhorn Canyon, a mile past Masonville, before hitting a turnaround and climbing the backside of the Horsetooth climb and finishing at the crest. It’s a challenging roughly 14-mile course that requires excellent pacing and the ability to recover well from hard efforts.

As always, the YGR time trial series require preregistration, which opens the week of the race on YourGroupRide .com.

Follow Your Group Ride on social media to get registration and status updates.

TOWN Ride Is Back

Fort Collins newest group ride the TOWN (The Other Wednesday Night) Ride is back for the spring. The TOWN Ride is a skills-based ride designed to help new and prospective racers develop the confidence and skills to ride safely in the larger groups they’ll encounter on the race-paced Wednesday night rides and local races.

By offering this ride, we hope to foster attentive resourceful racers and keep our races and rides accident-free. At the TOWN Ride, you’ll have the opportunity to ride with some of NoCo’s most experienced racers and teams, getting to know the culture and the etiquette in an attitude-free environment.

The pace will be civil, but we can’t guarantee a “no drop” pace, so be prepared to change a flat, fix a mechanical or call for a ride, though we will make an effort to be accommodating. It’s also probably wise to bring lights for these early season rides.

The TOWN ride departs from Peloton Cycles at Harmony And Zeigler at 5:30 PM on Wednesday nights.

For a full listing of Wendesday night training rides, check out the ride section of YourGroup

Chris Johnson is a former Chicago bike messenger, longtime all-weather commuter, recreational endurance cyclist, current category 2 road bike racer and director of Northern Colorado Cycling Events. Email NorCoCyclingEvents@ or visit yourgroup