DUO TTT - pacing & pull length

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by ayrej2

Been searching the board and the www, but not found anything too useful so thought I would open this up..

I'm doing my first Duo time trial with a friend in a local race. It's 36km, dead flat, no wind, 12km laps, out and back - so 6 u-turns in total.

I was wondering if anyone knew of an "optimum" pull length & effort for a duo TTT or at least, some starting suggestions. We're pretty equal in terms of strength - probably around 320watts threshold.

Obviously the shorter the pull, the harder you can go (over threshold) - but also the shorter recovery you're going to get. Also you increase the number of rotations and as such the total time both of you are in the wind.

Conversely, as the pull gets longer you're going to tend towards your threshold output - and as such, not really getting the benefit of the duo - only an easier race.

I was thinking 1min pulls for starters? Can anyone enlighten me? :lol:

Last edited by ayrej2 on Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by mrfish

I think the only way to nail this is to practice it.

I have a few TTT medals at national student level. Every year we 4 strong but not outstanding riders would beat teams which were on paper and in individual TTs much stronger. Our experience:

Technical stuff
1) Ride together as much as possible, starting with 2 min turns at a steady pace, then get faster / shorter
2) Learn to ride pacelines smoothly, i.e. decelerating off the front so the line keeps the same pace
3) Discuss wind and positioning on the road. Many riders have no idea about echeloning and why you rotate right or left before it is explained to them. It helps if one of you has the authority to shout at people and tell them what to do.
4) Do shorter turns downhills as momentum fires the guys in the slipstream through and longer turns uphill, on short hills the guy at the front needs to complete the hill. Obviously minimum braking.
5) Learn how hard everyone can ride, e.g. when completing the hill, how hard can you go but still allow the guy on the front to get back on the back of the line?
6) Work out an order of riders which works for you, we usually put larger riders together and tried a few different orders based on strength before settling on an order and sticking to it
7) Start on road bikes then move onto using TT bikes at least 2x per week for all paceline training at least 6 weeks before the race. Use full TT wheels etc. as training needs to be as real as possible.
8) Create some competition by competing against another 4 or 2x2 in training if you can

Training stuff
1) From early season 1x per week we would do about 40-60 miles in pacelines on road bikes until it was second nature to think of others. We'd ride at maybe 160bpm and do 1-2 minute turns depending on strength.
2) Then we would get faster until turns were at 180bpm and the ride would go down to 40 miles
3) Then we would do 10 mile TTs in two halves, 5 miles each 'sector' with a good rest in between. Sometimes we would ride in pairs, sometimes as fours. First half would be ridden hard, second half as if you were trying to ride the other guy off your wheel. Much pain was involved. No idea on the HR, but guessing about 185 average.
4) For team pursuit we tried doing 4km efforts on the road. This never worked properly. Much better to use the track, particularly for team starts. Our experience was that it's more difficult than it looks to do 4km really well. We also had one spectacular crash warming down in Manchester. Oops.

We did try a few coached sessions. These were great on the track but not much good on the road. The 5 mile TT x2 or x4 is a much better way to sort out any issues.

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by Tapeworm

Not much to add from MrFish's excellent post other than to emphasise - practice practice practice.

Preferrably on terrain that mimics the course (or the course itself) and build to the speeds you need to be working at.

Also with the above know where to position yourself with crosswinds and how to rotate effectively.

Ensure you have some simple commands that both riders understand (eg: "up" to increase speed, "down" to slow down, "hold" ride to hold speed/position, etc etc).

In the last TTT of three I did, the strongest in our group did about ~1min30sec pulls, while the other two did ~1min. YMMV!
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by Rick

My feeling was always that there is a natural feel to "pull lengths" among riders that know what they are doing, are really committed, and really motivated.
In my mind, the key is that the front rider should not really be "pulling", but the following rider should be "punching through".
The "punching through" should not require a significant surge of extra effort. It should be an almost natural result of the front rider slowing down a bit as he hits the wind resistance in the front.

Remember that you are both going pretty close to "all out" the whole time.

So for larger pace lines, this means very little time on the front before the next rider punches through. Almost no real "pulling time".

With only two riders, there will be a little longer transition as you swap positions and get back into the draft, and are then "slung" back into the front.

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by ayrej2

Thanks for your replies...

Duo seems to be quite an interesting format really. The time you get drafting isn't really enough to recover properly from going a lot over threshold and so it's not that much quicker than done as a single. Especially when you compare it to a quad, or larger TTT where you can really let loose on the front and then get a decent recovery period in the draft.

To be honest, this isn't actually an important race to me, but as virtually all the guys from my club have formed pairs there's a bit of pride at stake :lol:

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by Geoff

We used to do two-up TTs a lot. I learned early on that pulls should never be longer than 30 seconds, unless there is a huge difference in ability. I was out with a couple of Cat 1's on the weekend. They were taking 60 second (+) pulls. When we got to a climb, one of them got dropped. Keep your pulls shorter...

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