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Could time trialists "looking like the Michelin Man" using body fairings in search of aero gains soon be banned?

Time trialling governing body Cycling Time Trials will vote on a body fairing ban next month, the man behind the proposal keen to avoid "anything that's a potential barrier" to more people participating...

Cycling Time Trials (CTT) will vote on a potential ban to the use of body fairings at next month's AGM, that being the practise of altering a rider's profile for aerodynamic benefit by inserting a hydration pack or other padding underneath clothing.

The governing body which oversees time trialling in England and Wales will discuss and vote on a motion proposed by Dr Bryce Dyer, an Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department Design and Engineering at Bournemouth University who is also a committee member of CTT South DC and sits on one of CTT's working groups.

Dr Dyer's proposal would limit the use of body fairings which were widely seen at this year's RTTC National 10-mile Championships won by Josh Charlton, the podium completed by Richard Bussell and retired WorldTour pro Alex Dowsett, whose YouTube video from the day showed numerous riders with large bulges from their jerseys owing to an item stuffed inside for aero gain.

British pro triathlete, multiple-time Ironman champion and long-distance time trial specialist Joe Skipper also raised eyebrows when pictures of his position at Ironman Texas emerged online...

2023 Joe Skipper Texas Ironman

> Is stuffing a hydration pack down your jersey more aero? Joe Skipper reveals his latest radical triathlon bike setup

A CTT rule already prevents fairings on competitors' bikes, Dr Dyer told us, but his proposal would also see clothing required to conform to the body without fairings, devices or padding which alters the aerodynamic profile of the rider. Nor would riders be able to wear a hydration pack or store items in front of the body during events of 30 miles or less.

"It's not so much that shoving a drinks bottle down your front is particularly outrageous, it's where it goes next," he told road.cc. "There's no real harm in a drinks bottle necessarily but without being checked I think it could get pretty out of control pretty fast."

Dr Dyer also made the proposal, announced by CTT in April, for a road bike category to be introduced to all time trials to "get more people time trialling". At the heart of his latest proposal is the desire to avoid putting people off time trialling who might otherwise take part.

> Road bike category introduced by British time trial governing body to "get more people time trialling"

"I do hear people say it's a cheap advantage, you can get a bottle of Volvic for a pound, why not do it and get the gain? What's so unfair about it?" he continued. "But the point here is that a significant amount of people will get a gain from it so what's the point?

"If everyone's getting the gain anyway then there's no added value by including it, but there are possible negative consequences as it could be seen as off-putting to people when you see people looking like the Michelin Man.

"People might say we're hardly a sport where everyone looks classy... we wear Lycra suits in ridiculously cold temperatures with stupid helmets on, looking ridiculous is a hallmark of the sport but I think again we've got to look at this in the sense of time trialling has seen its numbers diminish in the UK in the last few years. Covid then didn't help participation levels either, anything that's a potential barrier really needs to be at least discussed.

"The reason I proposed this isn't really to get the ban approved, but to get it at least discussed at the AGMs so that people can air their views and discuss this carefully, rather than let it run rampant and then have a problem that causes damage to the sport that you then can't roll back particularly easily, like with swimsuits and swimming in the noughties."

> Has aero gone too far? The most excessive cycling tech made to shave milliseconds

Commenting on his other recent succesful proposal, the introduction of a road bike category at every CTT event, Dr Dyer said: "The idea was to broaden participation out... the very high end of the sport has become very science based, a lot of us are in wind tunnels, and that is intimidating to people because it is not just about the facts sometimes, it's about the perception and the optics.

"The road bike category was an attempt to create another racing class that would give more harmonious optics to people but also to widen opportunity to people and inclusivity to people who might be looking at the sport, trying to get back to simplicity."

Speaking about the drive to "get more people time trialling", CTT's chair Andrea Parish said back in April that there is a desire to get time trialling back to the "every person's sport".

"There's still space for elite athletes, but we're also creating space that people can occupy in different ways and we're making sure that their achievements are properly recognised," she said.

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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24 comments

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exilegareth | 3 months ago
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As the first rider off in that National 10 I'm happy to confirm that the bulge down the front of my shirt was indeed all me - and it was no help aerodynamically - any marginal gain being outweighed by the fact that I'm twice the weight and three times the age of the winner!

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I love my bike | 3 months ago
6 likes

Think of the thousands of MAMILS spending years of cafe rides & thousands of pounds, developing an aerodynamic belly. All that time & dedication could be for nothing, if an empty bottle would be just as good!

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ooblyboo | 3 months ago
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It isn't having to shove a bottle of Volvic down my skinsuit that has put me off entering open TTs, it's having to race on the UK's very busy, potoled roads among everyday traffic. Having a road bike category does help somewhat but if you want to test yourself on a TT bike (which I do), then a closed track is the safest place to do it. There are some events on tracks - there need to be more although I recognise how difficult that is.

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Carior | 3 months ago
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Of course if Dr Dan actually gave a f**k about getting people into TT riding he'd get rid of the arbitrary rules that actually keep people out - like having to be registered to a CTT registered cycling club to enter TTs - how many triathletes are already part of a tri club and would happily do some TTs in the summer but can't because their club would have to register with both British Cycling and CTT for them to mess around on a local 10 on a Saturday morning as a surrogate FTP test! 
CTT is basically a bit bollocks and should spend its efforts elsewhere!

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Simon E replied to Carior | 3 months ago
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Carior wrote:

Of course if Dr Dan actually gave a f**k about getting people into TT riding he'd get rid of the arbitrary rules that actually keep people out - like having to be registered to a CTT registered cycling club to enter TTs - how many triathletes are already part of a tri club and would happily do some TTs in the summer but can't because their club would have to register with both British Cycling and CTT for them to mess around on a local 10 on a Saturday morning as a surrogate FTP test!

If you want to enter an *open* TT then yes, you'll need to belong to an affiliated club/team. Affiliating to CTT is £60 per year while a club doesn't need to join BC as well to enter TTs.

But midweek club events are the backbone of the sport and it would make sense for people to start by riding these events. That way you get to know the rules and how an event works in a relaxed and friendly environment (and I'm afraid a good proportion of triathletes are quite ignorant of CTT rules). You can usually ride a few before being asked to join an affiliated club and membership can be as little as £10 for the year. This directly supports the clubs, without whom there would be no events at all.

Starting in time trials is a lot simpler (and far cheaper) than a cyclocross or road road league, for example. But if you think a real-world TT is just a surrogate FTP test then spare us the pitiful whining and go and ride a strava segment or something. And BTW his name isn't Dan.

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Miller replied to Simon E | 3 months ago
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Simon E, all absolutely true. You should be able to ride any cycling club's non-open TT events on a Come and Try It basis without needing to join the club. If you make a habit of it you'll likely be asked to join but by that stage why wouldn't you?

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Simon E replied to Miller | 3 months ago
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If someone doesn't even want to join a club to ride those events, they're not prepared to invest a few quid, then they can piss off and start up their own club/team/discipline/events. I'm tired of selfish whingers who think everything should be done exactly how they want it. And god help you if you ever suggest they help one time!

On ooblyboo's point, safety in TTs is a whole other topic and if you've ever tried to discuss closed circuit events with landowners you'd know how difficult (and sometimes expensive) it can be.

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wycombewheeler replied to Miller | 3 months ago
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Wait, so If I am not a meber of CTT I CAN enter non-open events, but I CAN'T enter open events?

Well that all seems pretty logical and intuitive. No one could possibly expect the opposite and be disappointed when turned away.

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Simon E replied to wycombewheeler | 3 months ago
1 like
wycombewheeler wrote:

Wait, so If I am not a meber of CTT I CAN enter non-open events, but I CAN'T enter open events?

CTT call open events 'Type A' and club events 'Type B'. Opens usually have a closing date around 12 days beforehand. A HQ is usually hired for the event, the field is seeded - you usually get given a start position based on your PBs - and published online. Instructions are sent out a week or so in advance. Timekeepers must be qualified and will use calibrated stopwatches. The results may count towards a local or national series or BAR (Best All Rounder) competition. Competitors are expected to be a member of a CTT affiliated club in order to enter.

Type B or club events are less formal, invariably turn-up-and-pay a smaller fee (~£5), often in a car park. You don't have to be a member of anything and the clubs I know are happy to let people do a few rides like that; but if you want to do it regularly then you will be expected to join an affiliated club for the season.

However, if people expect something to be provided but can't even be arsed to do the most basic research beforehand (e.g. checking the club website or asking a question) then they really shouldn't be surprised if their lofty expectations are not met and a red carpet is not rolled out for them.

TheFatAndTheFurious wrote:

a load of bollocks, including:

"I just can't see what the CTT organisation actually brings to the sport beyond mountains of paper."

People like Bradley Wiggins, Alex Dowsett, Josh Tarling and Dan Bigham are among a huge number of cyclists who would disagree with that comment. 99% of entries, start & result sheets etc are sent via email or using the CTT website function these days.

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TheFatAndTheFurious replied to Simon E | 3 months ago
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Simon E wrote:

start & result sheets etc are sent via email or using the CTT website function these days.

Sure.... and the entry forms, and the police notification forms, once you've printed them, got them signed, got them scanned, and then the requirement to retain them for 1/4/at least 7 years....

For each and every event....

CTT: Duties of Promoting Secretaries wrote:

Entry forms and signing-on sheets should be retained for at least one year. If there is an accident, they should be retained for at least seven years.

https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/articles/view/34

CTT: Guidance note 21 Storage of district records wrote:

Event information, i.e., entry forms, start and result sheets, signing on sheets, police notifications, any
acknowledgement from the police and the “on the day” risk assessment, should be retained for a period of four years from the date of the event.

https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/documents/download/4587

CTT:GN 6 Conduct of Club Events wrote:

All documents relating to each club event shall be retained by the club official responsible for the promotion
of the club events for at least one year. In cases where an accident occurs during an event, then all the papers should be retained for AT LEAST SEVEN YEARS.

https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/documents/download/4615

 

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exilegareth replied to wycombewheeler | 3 months ago
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Open means open to all clubs - each club has its own rules but I started out just rocking up to a club ten on my commuter hack and enjoyed it so much I did it again. Noone (generally) is a member of CTT - clubs register and their members can then register with CTT.

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TheFatAndTheFurious replied to Simon E | 3 months ago
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Simon E wrote:

That way you get to know the rules

// rant mode on

"Ride the full distance as fast as you can whilst obeying the highway code. Have fun."

Isn't that really all that's needed for all but the most serious events?

The CTT regs page is just plain ridiculous. 43 numbered sections, with hundreds of sub-clauses, prescribing what you can and can't do even for a "Type B" club-only event. I just can't wrap my head around it.

Even regs for Type A events such as prohibiting business names and trade team logos are pointless barriers to uptake, preventing folk from riding in something cheap blagged off eBay. No-one is going to mistake someone knocking out a 30 minute "10" for a pro team rider. No-one is going to get upset that a local business might be supporting a promising young rider with a bit of kit.

I just can't see what the CTT organisation actually brings to the sport beyond mountains of paper.

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Miller replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 3 months ago
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Re Fat and Furious: How awful that a sport has rules. Are you able to get your head round football or rugby or cricket? 

All the CTT rules are there for a reason and that is to maintain fair play. Time-trialling in the UK has a long history and all sorts of rule bending has been attempted and, if judged unfair, ruled against. CTT rules aren't imposed from above, they're proposed and voted in by the affiliated clubs. That is, by the people who actually ride time trials. The proposer of the motion discussed in the article above is a regular competitor.

Still, rather than make an effort it's easier for you to keyboard rant against the people who actually do the dull work of making sporting events happen. 

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TheFatAndTheFurious replied to Miller | 3 months ago
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Miller wrote:

How awful that a sport has rules

.....that are barriers to participation and uptake... Agreed.

Miller wrote:

Still, rather than make an effort it's easier for you to keyboard rant against the people who actually do the dull work of making sporting events happen.

BRRZZT.... sorry.... I _am_ one of those doing the dull work. And I am one of the people who actually ride time trials.

I get that there are serious people wanting to race and place against other serious people and to do so on a level playing field, so sure, CTT run that scene and get to stipulate rules on forearm position and handlebar width and sponsor logos.

But the majority of us are just playing, and racing against ourselves and our own PBs, using whatever kit we have to hand, and there's just no need to have to do that under the CTT banner with all the restrictions they insist upon.

Racing for money or ranking points? Fine - rules.

Racing for fun? Knock yourself out, any way you want.

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Carior replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 3 months ago
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Quite - I looked to see if I could get my work's cycling club registered but because its a corporate funded club it quickly became clear it wasn't going to be worth the hassle.

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exilegareth replied to TheFatAndTheFurious | 3 months ago
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I'm an event organiser and a rider. CTT brings me confidence that I've done the job right, and that if I do it right I have nothing to worry about. CTT are out of date in some ways but probably not the ones you're whinging about.

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Carior replied to Simon E | 3 months ago
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1. As someone who has tried to join both CX and TT races, CX races are definitely easier to join - I have my pick of about 3 or 4 every weekend and all I have to do is pay my entry fee and my day license.

2. Your answer is go and ride on a midweek night.  Great - and for people that don't work a 9-5? I'm lucky if I'm home by 7 (when my local club TT starts) so that's not on, and even if I could make it, it's hardly going to be great fun beasting myself on an empty stomach after a long day at work. That's not my kind of fun.

3. I'm perfectly happy to pay back to the sport through entry fees/race license etc.  But its not worth me paying £30-60 a year (the going rate at cycling clubs round me) for the sake of riding 3-4 TTs.  

4. My issue is not that I'm not prepared to invest a few quid, its that I already invest a load of money in multi-sport - I am insured (for cycling twice over, for swimming three times over and twice over for running).  

5. Maybe you should ask yourself what's actually going to get more people doing the sport? Make it really easy for people to pay a few quid to enter with an on the day race license (like triathlon, running etc), or mandating road bike only categories.  There's a whole host of easy targets of people who would get more involved in TTs if CTT wasn't run by a whole load of retrogrouches who put up unnecessary barriers to entry and refuse to get with the times.

Once, before I knew I wasn't allowed, I managed to enter a CTT event as an unaffiliated rider - my Dad tried as he wanted to join - they'd fixed the website by then, so he contacted the organiser who simply said, "I just want want people to enjoy riding their bikes so ping me a cheque and I'll stick you down as a member of my club and approve you" - that's how it should be, if there are people that want to get out an ride bikes, putting up bureacracy and hurdles is dumb and keeps people out of the sport! 

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Miller replied to Carior | 3 months ago
2 likes
Carior wrote:

 

5. ...There's a whole host of easy targets of people who would get more involved in TTs if CTT wasn't run by a whole load of retrogrouches who put up unnecessary barriers to entry and refuse to get with the times.

Are there though? I don't think anyone actively involved in time-trialling really believes that. It is super easy to enter club TTs, even on an empty stomach, and the people who fancy a TT do exactly that. Some don't take to it, some stick to club TT level because it's enough, some get hooked and go all in on open events.

Again, it's far easier to stay outside and snipe and moan because the sport isn't run to your precise specifications where you live.

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Simon E replied to Miller | 3 months ago
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Miller wrote:

it's far easier to stay outside and snipe and moan because the sport isn't run to your precise specifications where you live.

100%.

None of the whingeing sods are willing to put their time into helping, they just want it laid on to suit themselves. A gourmet meal at a time and place of their choosing, oh and at rock-bottom price.

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Simon E replied to Carior | 3 months ago
5 likes

Most cycling events are run by volunteers. We can't help it if you are busy on a weeknight - I've been there myself, working shifts for years. But I didn't blame someone else. And I don't moan about riding home from work, grabbing a snack or whatever before heading out to ride or help at local events (TT, CX, circuit races etc) or even going straight there from my workplace, as others do.

The fact that organisers help you enter when you haven't understood the rules shows they are in fact prepared to put assist newcomers. I had a late entry (several days after the deadline) from a local triathlete earlier this year. He had no clue about how to enter etc but I spent time explaining what to do, I held off my startsheet prep until he had created a profile and sent me the details. But I don't want to do that (possibly for 5 or 10 people) for every event because they haven't bothered to ask beforehand. It's not beaurocracy or 'red tape' for its own sake, the process exists for a reason, even if it's not obvious to you.

And in terms of barriers to entry, it really doesn't get much easier than arriving at a TT HQ of an evening, paying £5 or so and writing your name on a sheet to enter a timed event. Just because it doesn't fit with your lifestyle is not the fault of the organiser or the governing body. Clubs run by volunteers are not like supermarkets that can justify opening long hours 7 days a week.

Registering your sponsored team with CTT is not neccessary, you can ride TTs (including opens) as a 'second claim' member of a local club. It is perfectly fine to enter CTT events for one club or team and BC/Tri events for another.

If that's all too much fuss then perhaps you could set up your own ad-hoc events at a convenient time. You can surely do a far better job than us 'retrogrouches' who are already put hours into the sport for no financial gain. But watch out for freeloaders and timewasters. And don't invent any rules because those are just "barriers to participation".

 

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Backladder replied to Simon E | 3 months ago
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I'll just add that most courses now have a strava segment associated with them and the exact start/finish points are usually marked with a painted mark near the kerb so you can just rock up any time and use strava to time your ride without any rules or regulations to hinder you, just be aware that if you do this you are doing it uninsured.

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Backladder replied to Carior | 3 months ago
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Carior wrote:

2. Your answer is go and ride on a midweek night.  Great - and for people that don't work a 9-5? I'm lucky if I'm home by 7 (when my local club TT starts) so that's not on, and even if I could make it, it's hardly going to be great fun beasting myself on an empty stomach after a long day at work. That's not my kind of fun.

Trust me, you don't want to do a TT on a full stomach.

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Carior replied to Backladder | 3 months ago
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Backladder wrote:
Carior wrote:

2. Your answer is go and ride on a midweek night.  Great - and for people that don't work a 9-5? I'm lucky if I'm home by 7 (when my local club TT starts) so that's not on, and even if I could make it, it's hardly going to be great fun beasting myself on an empty stomach after a long day at work. That's not my kind of fun.

Trust me, you don't want to do a TT on a full stomach.

Fair, but 8am on a saturday morning I can make work.

The reality is, you can say "oh but look at the club scene blah blah blah" finding the club scene is hard, finding triathlons, running races, CX races within 5 minutes of your door is easy - that's what you're competing with - you can deny it as much as you like but the evidence is there that people will take part in endurance events and putting in an arbitrary "you must be a member of a registered club to race events" doesn't add value. 

You can stick to a pointless rule and pretend its bikes that are putting people off TTs or you can align yourself with the sports you're competing with for legs.

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Backladder replied to Carior | 3 months ago
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I don't disagree that ctt should accept affiliation from individuals but I suspect your work pattern might still cause problems, if you think there are dozens of people wanting to ride TTs at 08:00 on Saturday morning try organising one to prove it, there's nothing to stop you riding in an event you organise as long as all official positions are covered by others.

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