Elite cycling and triathlon coach Marilyn Chychota has consistently placed top three at the Tucson Bicycle Classic prologue as a pro cyclist. As a decorated former pro triathlete and pro cyclist, the Tucson-based coach won Ironman Malaysia and competed in USA Cycling’s National Road Calendar circuit, Canadian road and TT nationals, Australian road and TT nationals and the Women’s New Zealand Tour and World Cup.
The TBC prologue is only 3.2 miles long but it can pack a punch vs. your run-of-the-mill, out-and-back 20k time trial. As one of my favorite time trials on the Arizona circuit, and with some successes along the way, here are my best tips to riding fast on this unique time trial course.
1. Pre-ride the course
Because this TT is short, it’s easy to think to go max effort the entire race. This TT provides and interesting terrain. You start out on a very fast downhill. Through this section I’ve found it works best to ride technically very well, taking the fastest line and being very aero. It helps to pre-ride the course to find that fast line through that entire first section.
2. Manage effort on the downhill, crank it up the climb
Manage your effort a little through the first section on the fast downhill. It will allow you to get to that last section with enough gas to really go for it. This race is won by the rider who can stay very strong and build to max on the rollers and the final climb of this TT.
3. Select the right gearing
Gearing will be especially important. Having a big gear for that first section will help you get high speed. A 53/11 or for the very experienced maybe even 55/11 are good gear selections. Don’t forget to make sure you have good gearing for the back half that will allow you to stay on top of your gear in the climbs. A 36/28 or 39/26 combination could do the trick.
4. Road bike or TT bike?
I have done this race on both a road bike and a TT bike. I have always had a better result on a time trial bike. Use good aero wheels, but be sure they are your lightest set. Wear an aero helmet and use TT bars. Being extremely aero and technically fast in that first half makes a huge difference. Stay aero up the early climbs working your gearing. Save the standing max effort for that final climb.
5. Do a good warm-up
This is a tough TT. Show up to the start with your engine hot and ready to go. Pay attention to detail and read the road to work your gears and keep your speed high as the terrain changes.
Lastly, have fun! It sets you up for the remainder of the weekend to gun for that podium position.
Clipped In is the biggest online resource for cycling events, races and news in the United States. We are putting all cycling events, group rides and other helpful resources like news and local training routes all in one place. Find your favorite cycling events and bike races on clippedin.bike so you can stay up to date with your cycling community, get better at what you love and enjoy the best sport in the world.
We provide a one-stop shop with cycling news, events, discounts, store, a comprehensive cycling event calendar, races, rides, bike shops, teams in road cycling, mountain biking, cross-country mountain biking, downhill mountain biking, cyclocross, track cycling, BMX and triathlon. You can create your own bike race calendar with our My List feature. You can also post bike races, cycling events, group rides, cycling team information, bike shop and coach bios.
Finally there’s one place where you can find both sanctioned events and fun rides, gran fondos and gravel races, crits, road races, cross races, mountain bike races, fat bike races, donut rides and more. We live for cycling and so do you, so why not have a place for all of our favorite events to live?
Cycling event promoters, race directors and cycling sponsors are also welcome - we can’t think of a better way to get the word out about your events and products to an audience who craves them.
Whether you are a competitive cyclist or you want to go out on a fun group cycling ride, you’re in the right place.