Ollie Bridgewood's 18 minute time trial

What does it take for an amateur rider to complete a 10 mile time trial in under 19 minutes? Ollie Bridgewood tells us how he did it

Clock10:35, Monday 4th September 2023

Years ago, Ollie Bridgewood set himself a personal goal of riding a sub-19 minute 10 mile time trial – no mean feat. To achieve this time he would need to ride at an average speed of 52km/h. It would take a lot of power, a fanatical approach to aerodynamics, and a lot of suffering. But at long last, he did it. In this video, Ollie shows us how he achieved this goal.

The process

The ultimate goal of riding a sub-19 minute 10 mile time trial is actually made up of lots of smaller intermediate goals. Each one takes work, and when they're brought together, all these marginal improvements result in a higher chance of success.

For Ollie, he designed his process by starting with the end goal and reverse engineering what would be needed to get there from his current best. This meant improving every aspect of the system, including Ollie’s fitness, riding position, fuelling, bike and clothing tech, to squeeze every second of speed out of the total package.

Training

No matter what advances you make to your riding position, kit or strategy, the biggest factor in being able to ride consistently at 52km/h for 10 miles is always going to be fitness. In the video, Ollie goes into the specifics of the training that was set for him in order to increase his fitness, specific to the demands of a 10-mile time trial. This included lots of anaerobic efforts over his FTP as well as increasing his ability to recover between those efforts efficiently.

Due to the demands of a 10 mile time trial being so varied, with corners and differing wind directions to contend with, the physical effort on the pedals is anything but steady state. With lots of accelerations or sections where riding above your aerobic capacity is needed, the ability to surge and recover is incredibly important.

Ollie goes on to dive in to the volume of training that he undertook in the build up to this attempt. Although, as a presenter for GCN, he gets to ride his bike in some amazing locations, he doesn't get to ride his bike all the time, and for this challenge he was averaging 10-12 hours per week with a significant portion of that coming from Zwift.

Planning and course recon

Whilst building the engine that would be capable of a sub-19 minute 10 mile time trial, Ollie also needed to plan out where the attempt was going to take place, with such a variety of time trial courses to choose from there are distinctly slower and faster courses around. Finding the right course for the attempt was the next piece in the puzzle.

Once a suitable course had been found Ollie then used a web platform mywindsock.com to really dive in to the specific needs to achieve the goal. By uploading the course route from Strava, you can then input the time and day of the event and the website will pull on weather forecasts and previous weather conditions to predict if the course will be running fast or slow during the given attempt window.

By using this platform, Ollie could experiment with different pacing plans and strategies to optimise his attempt, virtually. This shows the importance of pacing yourself to the needs of the course.

In Ollie's sub-19 attempt he averaged 330 watts but this was not flat pacing. This average was achieved with strategic surges on rises and into head wind sections and recovery at roundabouts or with a tail wind. What mywindsock was able to show was that flat pacing of 330 watts was considerably slower than tailored pacing that would average 330 watts.

Kit

Time trialling in recent years has developed into something of an arms race, with kit choices offering considerable gains in speed over traditional riding kit and setups. You don't need all the gear to enjoy the discipline of time trialling, but for a goal like Ollie's, you need every advantage you can get.

The skinsuit is one of the biggest factors in the aerodynamics of a rider on their bike. The fabric exposed to the wind has a massive impact on the aerodynamic efficiency of the rider. One way to optimise your clothing without breaking the bank is to get your skin suit tailored specifically for your body. Getting the fabric to be as smooth as possible by removing some creasing can really influence how effective a skinsuit is.

One of the other massive efficiency savings that Ollie made was his helmet choice. Helmets are a very individual item that will behave differently on different riders, and different positions, ultimately they are system dependent.

A discovery that was made for Ollie's setup during some wind tunnel testing was that the larger size time trial helmet was actually significantly faster than the smaller profile version, something that on the surface appears counterintuitive. However through the wind tunnel testing the saving for Ollie of using the large over the medium MET Drone helmet was seven watts!

Bike and Position

Ollie's bike of choice for this time trail was Canyons UCI legal version of the Speedmax. You can check out his bike check video linked here. Some of the noteworthy changes to the set up included running a 58 tooth chainring to allow for a better chain line at 52km/h this is because the less the chain deflects from a straight line the less power is lost in the system. If you want to find out more about cross chaining and how inefficient it can be we also have a story on that too.

Although Ollie was lucky enough to use a wind tunnel to refine his riding position, you can really optimise the position you ride in by working on reducing your frontal area as much as possible. Using photo or video footage of you riding in this position will highlight areas that can be improved, like lowering your head or raising your extensions a little bring them inline with your torso. Making these changes will see your position evolve in to something close to a wind tunnel optimised setup for a fraction of the cost.

For more information on nutrition and some core stability Ollie worked on to finish off his preparation for his attempt, check out the video where he dives into the specifics.

With all of these steps carried out, the only thing left for Ollie to do was to let the legs do the talking and make his attempt for a sub-19 minute time trial. The results of his attempt are in his video over on our GCN tech youtube channel so make sure to head over there to find out if all of these changes made it possible.

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