Tech gallery: US time trial championships

Rubbing-alcohol spray, 7 uses for electrical tape, huge pulleys, and ice, ice galore

The little things add up in time trials, and at the US national championships, held May 27 in North Carolina, a bevy of interesting little things popped up as riders, teams and coaches tried to squeeze out every last drop of performance. Some details had been set long ago; some adjustments by riders before they rolled down the start ramp, including men's winner Taylor Phinney.

With heat and humidity a factor, most riders employed some method of cooling before or during the event. Loose ice and ice bags were tucked into skinsuits, cooling vests were donned, fans were blasted and pop-up tents for shade were erected. Right before her start, women's UCI hour record holder Evelyn Stevens warmed up on a trainer wearing a cooling vest, with an ice bag on her neck. As she climbed off to ride her time trial bike to the start, her coach Neal Henderson sprayed her arms, legs and torso with rubbing alcohol for the sensory if not actual cooling effect.  

Henderson sprays stevens' arms, torso and legs with rubbing alcohol right before the start for its cooling effect: henderson sprays stevens' arms, torso and legs with rubbing alcohol right before the start for its cooling effect
Henderson sprays stevens' arms, torso and legs with rubbing alcohol right before the start for its cooling effect: henderson sprays stevens' arms, torso and legs with rubbing alcohol right before the start for its cooling effect

One interesting thing to watch at time trials is how veteran professionals make adjustments on the fly. BMC rider Phinney, for instance, called for electrical tape right before he climbed up onto the start ramp. With the clock counting down, he taped over the screen of his SRM PC8 computer, hiding the data so he could ride on feel but still capture the power and other data for analysis later. Why was this decision made on the line and not before? Phinney also changed his aero helmet setup pretty substantially while on the road. He started with the full Zeiss sunglass shield on his Giro Aerohead helmet, but discarded it mid-ride, presumably for heat management. 

Moments before he climbed up into the start house, phinney put electrical tape over his srm display. this way he could ride on feel and still capture the data: moments before he climbed up into the start house, phinney put electrical tape over his srm display. this way he could ride on feel and still capture the data
Moments before he climbed up into the start house, phinney put electrical tape over his srm display. this way he could ride on feel and still capture the data: moments before he climbed up into the start house, phinney put electrical tape over his srm display. this way he could ride on feel and still capture the data

While some tailoring of the bike setups were expensive and time-intensive — such as Kristin Armstrong's wax chain treatment — many were simple and along the lines of Phinney's 'just tape it' approach.USA Cycling officials were on hand monitoring bikes and gear, forcing last-minute changes of everything from Armstrong's skinsuit — no stars-and-stripes on national race day — to the rear wheel spacing.For a detailed look at the the gear used at the 2016 US national time trial championships, click through the gallery above. For complete results, visit Cyclingnews.com.

Rally's tom zirbel warms up in an ice vest before his silver-medal effort:
Rally's tom zirbel warms up in an ice vest before his silver-medal effort:

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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