- Lack of preparation.
- Lack of sufficient warm-up.
- Lack of equipment.
Lack of Sufficient Warm-Up. Have you ever seen the Pro Tour riders warming up before a time trial? They have sweat pouring off of them as they prepare their cardiovascular and muscular systems for the effort that is about to be demanded from them. It was cold, windy, and raining at Mineral Wells; so my warm-up consisted of getting on my bike, making sure my PowerTap was working, and then heading to the start line. You don't have to be an expert to know this is not really a warm up. I knew better, I just didn't care...until it was too late. Searching the Internet for "time trial warm up" yields some pretty good articles, but I found this article from PezCyclingNews.com to be one of the better ones.
Lack of Equipment. I find it a little hard to believe that this was a limitation for me since I love to spend money on my bike and buy new things. But I did not even have aerobars for my bike. This is unacceptable. You have to be able to get low and narrow on your bike so that you can punch through the wind. The goal is to decrease your aerodynamic drag as much as possible without limiting the amount of power you can put to the pedals. Recently, VeloNews published an excellent article that analyzed the impact of individual equipment on aerodynamic drag. CyclingTipsBlog.com took this article one step further and did a cost vs. benefit analysis of this equipment. I highly recommend that you read this article before your next time trial.