Cyclocross Racing - how much practice before first race?
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09-11-07, 09:46 AM
I am itching to try out cross this Fall, and had my eye on the Charm City race on 9/23, but the late summer passed me by awfully quick without me getting much chance to get out and practice dismounts, run-ups, etc. Work, family, and an impending move have kept me from my cycling tasks.
I have no fears about my fitness level whatsoever, and my basic bike handling skills are pretty well honed from my daily commute, SS MTB'ing, etc. But dismounts and running with the bike have not found their way into my skillset.
So my question is, if I enter the C race without getting much practice in, will I be pissing off the rest of my fellow racers? Is it an ok thing to do? Is there a side of the course I should stay on (ie, wide on cruves, etc.) or should I table my desire to race for a little bit? Would switching out my clipless for platforms be a good idea at first?
09-11-07, 09:52 AM
there's plenty of time between now and charm city to get the basics down enough to race. ten minutes every day for the next week and a half and you'll be better prepared than a lot of the guys out there.
if you're near dc i think we're gonna try and ride on sunday, maybe do a few drills. also probably a weeknight next week, keep an eye on the local cyclocross practice thread.
cheers man, see you at charm city!
09-11-07, 09:56 AM
Go race, or at least ride.
Stay with clipless for goodness sake. If you just take a couple of rides to get familiar with the dismount and don't run into anybody on the remount you'll be fine. Detour through a park or something and practice a little. It really is not hard to become competent - mastery is a whole other thing.
Don't worry about staying out of the way, you are obviously concerned about not being a jerk, you'll be fine.
Now read that in an Ahnold voice: "Do It!"
09-11-07, 10:07 AM
You have just under two weeks. Take five or ten minutes every morning to practice a few portages and remounts. Put a cheap-o saddle on your bike, because your remounts will probably be less than perfect and (if you are like me) you'll bend the seat rails.
Watch these cyclocross clinic videos:
[Click on the "How-To" tab.]
Nobody will give you attitude in the C race. If switching to platform pedals would make you feel more comfortable, then do so, but if you are used to using clipless I don't think it's necessary. Show up early enough to sign in and check out the course without feeling rushed. The sooner you get a race under your belt, the better.
09-12-07, 07:15 AM
FWIW, I showed up to my first 'cross race with no idea how to do a dismount. I asked the guy who was parked next to me- he was also a first-timer but did know how to do them. Watched him a couple of times and then ran through it a few times myself, then went out and finished third. Moral: go race. And yeah, stick with your clipless. Even if you happen to have trouble with a dismount at some point, they're enough more efficient that you'll be ahead in the long run.
don't worry. odds are that you'll still beat me. see you there. sometimes my dismounts are pretty good, sometimes they suck, but there's a big difference between doing a dismount in practice and doing one after 3 laps. At that point, I'm not sure that all the practice I do makes that much of a difference.
see you there!
09-13-07, 06:15 PM
I am sure that practice makes the most difference when you're wobbly, tired and sloppy. When you're fresh, your brain works and you can concentrate on what you are doing, it's when you feel your lips turn blue and tunnel vision sets in that the drill takes over and you automatically do what you've practiced. Especially if you practice while on the edge. If you do intervals, start and finish each one with a dismount, run and remount sequence. Gotta program the autopilot.
The thing to watch for and we all do it, is look for something that might expend less energy when we're tired. Don't try anything new in midrace because you're tired. It is so tempting and leads to so many crashes.
09-18-07, 06:46 PM
If you don't practice a lick, you'll fit right in with 50% of the other C racers out there.
Go make yourself some PVC barriers (http://hoyerfamily.com/cyclocross/?p=135) and get practicing. Make sure to get it down right. Quit once you get sloppy. Start slow.
Get in 100-200 barrier reps in the days before you race ...
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