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So far it’s a solo ride.

OSTT: Ten Tips for the Top

Chad Nordwall |

What: The Officially Serious Time Trial (OSTT), as in, don't actually take it or yourself too seriously, just come to have fun on one of the most iconic climbs in the Bay area.

Who: Anyone who wants to challenge themselves or see how they stack up against their friends or peers. Maybe you want to prove that you're the best climber in the Bay area or take on a longer effort than you've ever tried before. Whoever you are and whatever your reasons, the OSTT is for everyone, from the total beginner to the seasoned pro. It's just you, a bike and the hill.

Where: Four miles north of Stinson Beach on HWY 1.

When: Sunday, June 26th.

Why: Because it's good to do a few things now and then that give you butterflies. To test yourself, for bragging rights, to give you the motivation to get better, to meet others of a similar mindset, and finally, to have fun!

So now that you know what we're doing, I'd like to offer up a few (ten to be exact) tips to help you get the most out of the event. It's important to note that this piece is aimed more at the folks who have not done this sort of thing before. I'm sure that most of you reading this have hit a hill hard to see what you can do and compared your effort to others on Strava, but this is different. There is nothing more motivating and nothing that will help you get your absolute best time than lining up 60 seconds behind someone and doing everything you can to catch them while simultaneously trying to stay ahead of the person doing the same, 60 seconds behind you. I'm not a climbing expert and, if anything, prefer a good sprint to climbing, but like a lot of you, I do love to climb. It hurts, but getting to the top of a climb faster than you have ever done before is ultimately incredibly rewarding. With that being said, let's get to it!

Tip 1: Train for the event

This one is pretty easy. The best way to prepare for an uphill time trial is to ride up a hill as many times as possible. But you should still feel like you can do a little more when you finish your session.

I'm not going to get into training specifics - for that, find a great coach (if you need a recommendation, hit us up) - instead, we'll keep it simple. The BoFax TT course will take anywhere from 18 minutes to 30+ minutes to climb. So try to do a similar length climb a couple of times before the OSTT to get a feel for how hard you can push it without going too deep. Keep the really tough efforts shorter, say, 4-6 minutes and do multiple intervals with a good rest between each one. And again, you should finish the workout feeling like you could still get another one in if you had to. Mostly though, you want to get comfortable going uphill. Ride easy, ride moderately, but ride them.

Tip 2: Clean your bike

A dirty bike is a slow bike. A clean bike is free speed, especially where the drivetrain is concerned. Make sure the pulleys are clean, free of clumped up grease and roll smoothly. Have your bottom bracket bearings checked out, ensure they are spinning freely, and make sure your cassette, chainrings, and especially chain, are all spotless. Use a good lube, our favorites being the waxed-based lubes (we use Ceramicspeed and Silca here) and apply fresh lube the evening before. Of course, if you really want to maximise your time, installing Ceramicspeed pulleys, bottom bracket, and hub bearings will absolutely help your bike spin more freely. Check the other parts and get a good tune-up a week or so prior. Make sure your tires are fresh or, at the least, don't have any cuts in them. This is all pretty commonsense stuff here, but you'd be surprised how many riders start events with equipment that is on the verge of falling apart.

Tip 3: Ditch the bags

The less weight you have to carry to the top, the faster you'll get there. I'm speaking strictly about bike weight here. For bodyweight, it depends on where you're at, and again, I'll leave that to the experts. But what can we do about the bike to get it as light as possible as easily as possible? The best option is to build a pure climbing bike, but that would take up way more space than we have here. But if your goal is to ride your current bike and get it ready for the OSTT, take a look at all the things you can remove and take them off. It's a short event, so you don't need saddlebags, two bottles (or even one) etc. We'll dig a little deeper into this in the coming weeks, so I'll save the details for that.

Tip 4: Look at your stuff

We'll get to this later as well, but what's in your pockets? How heavy are your shoes? Helmet? These little things add up, and slimming them down can unlock potential time savings.

Tip 5: Don't be late

Watch the prologue of the '89 TDF. Pedro Delgado got confused during his warm-up and arrived at the gate almost three minutes after his official start time. If that can happen at the biggest race in the world to a guy who was a favorite to win, I can almost guarantee that it'll happen to someone on June 26! Just don't let it be you. When your time starts, it starts, whether you're on course or not. And the record books don't show that you were late; they show the total time. That 30-minute effort should have been 20 minutes and a podium spot, damn! So get to the start early, scope it out, and if you are really early, you can spin around. I would get ready to line up at least 5 minutes before your start time so you can start focussing on the effort to come, and, of course, try to psyche out those starting ahead of and behind you!

Tip 6: Warm up well

On the day of the OSTT, a few of us will ride from Above Category to the start line. We'll use the ride as a warm-up for the event instead of driving and jumping on a trainer once we get there. Whatever you do, do something. During the warm-up, you'll want to do an effort that is as hard as you'll do during the climb, only a heck of a lot shorter. Just a couple of hits for a couple of minutes will work for most people. If you park at Stinson Beach, the ride to the start line is a flat-four miles. I suggest not using that road to do your warm-up intensity work. Also, don't warm up on the course as it's not fair to the people on the clock and can be confusing. So try making a few short efforts up Panoramic and then riding easy from there to the start.

Tip 7: Pace yourself

Negative splits are your friend here. The best way to think about the race is to section the course into quarters. The first should feel quite comfortable. If you are maxed out at the end of this first bit, you'll struggle to sustain your pace to the end.

Now, if you held back a bit on the first quarter and are feeling good, take things up a notch for the second quarter of the climb. You should be breathing reasonably hard now, but you have a ways to go, so it should not be a maximal effort. If you get to the halfway point and your legs don't feel like two petrified logs, and your lungs are not at the point of exploding, you have paced yourself well and can now ramp it up a bit more.

The third quarter is where you should be giving almost everything. Everything that is, except your final 2-3%. When you hit that last quarter, with about 1500 meters to go, release the hounds! It's going to hurt. But if you paced properly, you should be up for as good a time as you could hope for. Remember, efforts against the clock take time to learn, but if you can grasp some core principles for this climb, you'll finish feeling pretty about what you just did. And remember, your best times come with how you finish the climb, not how you start it.

Tip 8: Forget About Other Riders

The cool thing about time trials is that you're mostly racing against yourself. Worrying too much about others has a way of messing your pacing up. If someone catches and passes you, who knows why? Are they just faster, and it was inevitable? If you try pacing with them, you could blow pretty quick. Or, maybe they didn't know how to pace themselves and will blow minutes or seconds after passing you. The point is, don't worry about it, focus on yourself and do your best.

Tip 9: Do use your minute people

I still stand by what I said above, but the good part of having someone a minute up the road and a minute behind is that it can push you to do something you didn't think you were capable of before the event. So, if you get passed by the person from behind, try picking up the pace a bit, and you may surprise yourself. Just be smart about it and don't go over the edge, especially towards the beginning of the climb. If it's the last half to last quarter of the climb, that's the time to do everything you can to keep the person behind from catching and catching the rider ahead. If used smartly, that extra motivation can take you over the top.

Tip 10: This is the big one so get ready

Have fun!