I see this is an old thread starter with little response. But since TT and hill climbing is all I do perhaps I can shed some light and maybe start a dialogue. BigDumbBear if you are still out there:
Take whatever bike you prefer or think fast to the first trial. It matters not what you ride or wear for you will be crushed. This is not a bad thing. For grapes are crushed before yielding fine wine.
Most club races are around 10 miles. Ride the first 5 miles like you normally do while larking about. I mean this. Do not push. In the second half start to focus on whatever bike is in sight ahead of you. Even if it's a bike passing you. And you will be passed. Fight like a dog in this last half.
To start hard as a newcomer is to fail more painfully than is required. Even split times should be a goal. What feels slow to start will (in most cases) be faster than your effort-filled second half. It is like that in all marathon endurance contests be them running or cycling.
After you have one race you will now have a better perspective. Now you can seek others for advice of equipment. Or you can just observe. In racing, as with any natural selection situation, the best types of equipment and style rises to the top. Ride what the winners ride. It could not be any simpler unless you enjoy being a firebrand and finishing somewhere else than first. (we like and encourage firebrands in my circle; they leave more money for us at the Finish)
The beginner should try to log at least 100 miles per week of specific training. That's about 15 miles per day. Almost any person can get that in. There is no need to log long mileage if your 15 is of good stout effort. The race is only 10 miles, it's not the Tour de France where you have to race up to 140 miles per day, forever.
If you like the sport and seek better results, increase mileage. A good young athlete on 15 mile a day can do very good times at 10 miles. 26-27 mph is possible on a non-aero bike at this training level.
If you plan to stay at the 10-25 mile trial distance (25 mile or 40kilometer is the classic event) Increase mileage to a max of 300-350 if your body can handle it. 90% of this mileage should be unaided by drafting. You learn nothing following in a bloke's shadow. You are out there to work. Most humans cannot take this kind of effort and work a real job. One must understand that top level endurance events are contests of attrition. For every rider who logs such mileage, ten have tried and failed for reasons of health; both of the body and of the mind. Loners make the best trial racers. Angry loners able to summon demons on the race way make the champions. It's largely a mental game at the top.
Genetics plays a very large part in an athlete's ultimate place. To have a large max O2 volume count you must pick your parents well. This determines how much and how well a fellow uses available O2 for fuel. You are either born with a large capacity or you are not. But don't let this discourage an effort early in your career. Many fine race efforts have been put forth by athletes of lesser genetics who can handle pain and discomfort better than the golden boy of good parentage. Pain makes cowards of most. It's the dreadful moment of anaerobic night, that dark and sparkling shadow that creeps on the edges of vision, the embracing of pain that makes the good trial rider.
So get out there and suffer. You'll soon love the feeling. Especially when you stop.