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-   -   Tips for Newbies (http://www.bikeforums.net/cyclocross-racing/480915-tips-newbies.html)

Carley P. 09-14-12 03:38 PM

I'm doing my first cross race in October. ( The Storm Eva Bandman race in Louisville). My main goal is to not get lapped. If I get lapped and the officials allow me to continue, at the end of the race will I have to do an extra lap all by myself, or do I just finish on the same lap as the leader and hope the officials understand I was a lap behind?

Andy_K 09-14-12 03:42 PM

Everybody finishes on the same lap. Depending on when you get lapped, there's a chance that you'll see some indicator of "two laps to go" on one lap and then be told that you're done on the next lap. And trust me, the judges will know how many laps you did.

midschool22 09-25-12 10:23 PM

Sunday is my first race of 2012 and my second race ever. Still dialing in tire pressure. Should be a fun season.

Andy_K 09-25-12 10:31 PM

I'm doing my 50th race tomorrow (5th of the season). I'm still no better than I was when I started. ;)

fietsbob 09-25-12 11:46 PM

AFAIK its usually 'the time period', + 1 lap..

marqueemoon 10-12-12 01:18 PM

Most of the the important stuff has already been covered.

For me the most important thing has been getting to know how my body responds. When you're really at the limit is when the mistakes happen. With all the things in a race that require your attention it's easy to get distracted. Check in with yourself regularly and gauge how you're feeling and adjust your effort accordingly.

The best piece of cross advice I've ever gotten is to start on the outside. The center of the pack is where all the congestion happens.

Hammer on the bumpy stuff. It is no less painful if you take it slower. These are great places to make passes.

Don't sweat your barrier technique too much. Your dismounts and remounts will improve with practice. It *is* important, but in reality the barriers are a small part of the race. The most important part is setting your bike down smoothly.

Learn how to shoulder a bike the correct way and only do it when absolutely necessary.

marqueemoon 12-03-12 12:30 PM

Join a team if you can. Not all teams are serious business. It really helps make the whole experience more fun. It's been great motivation for me to do better and I've met a lot of great people through the team.

Get a floor pump with a decent gauge and bring it to races. Don't go by feel, particularly if you are running clinchers.

Andy_K 12-03-12 12:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by marqueemoon (Post 15010918)
Join a team if you can. Not all teams are serious business. It really helps make the whole experience more fun. It's been great motivation for me to do better and I've met a lot of great people through the team.

This was my 5th season racing CX and I just joined a team last week. You're definitely right that it adds to the fun -- at least if you pick the right team. The founder of the team I joined races with a rubber chicken in his jersey pocket, so I felt pretty confident this was the right group for me. :thumb:

caloso 12-03-12 12:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by marqueemoon (Post 14834889)
Most of the the important stuff has already been covered.

For me the most important thing has been getting to know how my body responds. When you're really at the limit is when the mistakes happen. With all the things in a race that require your attention it's easy to get distracted. Check in with yourself regularly and gauge how you're feeling and adjust your effort accordingly.

The best piece of cross advice I've ever gotten is to start on the outside. The center of the pack is where all the congestion happens.

Hammer on the bumpy stuff. It is no less painful if you take it slower. These are great places to make passes.

Don't sweat your barrier technique too much. Your dismounts and remounts will improve with practice. It *is* important, but in reality the barriers are a small part of the race. The most important part is setting your bike down smoothly.

Learn how to shoulder a bike the correct way and only do it when absolutely necessary.

I think this is really good advice. It seems obvious, a bit laughable actually when sitting in a chair, but I really have to remind myself to think clearly when I'm at the limit. As in "Hey, dumbass, don't forget there's a set of barriers coming up. That means unclipping your feet and getting ready to dismount!"

Andy_K 12-03-12 02:18 PM

A lot of the tips I put in earlier in this thread have been targeted at people like me who know they're going to finish in the bottom of the pack. I think I mentioned something like this before, but over the course of the year I've had a particular strategy crystallize a bit. Everyone knows that on the first lap you go all out, right? But what if you have no chance of keeping pace with the leaders or even the main pack? In that case, don't go all out on the first lap. Let everyone go. Don't start slow, but don't exceed the pace that you think you can maintain. The people at your fitness level will come back to you and when they do, they'll be dragging. This is particularly true if you're in an unbalanced field with a handful of really strong riders at the front.

I've been using this strategy all year. In nearly every race I was in DFL within the first quarter lap, but I've only actually finished last in 4 of 21 races and I probably would have finished last in those races regardless (at least crossresults.com thought so). Some of my more successful results using this strategy were 9 of 14, 45 of 58, 104 of 122 and 48 of 57. So obviously this isn't going to be the strategy that catapults you into your series lead, but if you're struggling to avoid finishing last, try starting last! Passing people is more fun than fighting to hold a position.

(I should note that this is obviously a variation of BikeSnobNYC's "un-tack" strategy, but I was doing this before he named it. For me, it's an extension of the "Reverse Hole Shot" strategy I posted here last year, and I suspect it's a lot more successful as a CX strategy than it is as a road racing strategy.)

marqueemoon 12-03-12 03:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caloso (Post 15010978)
It seems obvious, a bit laughable actually when sitting in a chair, but I really have to remind myself to think clearly when I'm at the limit. As in "Hey, dumbass, don't forget there's a set of barriers coming up. That means unclipping your feet and getting ready to dismount!"

Totally.

That was definitely part of my internal chatter in yesterday's race. Also, "Big puddle coming up. Relax and get your weight back, dummy."

craigcraigcraig 08-21-13 04:19 PM

This thread was a major contributor to my first cross race ever last night. One thing I will add is to stick in the starting sprints rather than be nervous and try and get out of the way. The format was set up so after 3 laps 5 people were cut then you line up and go 2 laps and more were cut then 1 lap for winner takes all. so I got to start twice which was fun and I stuck myself in the second time instead of being nervous and touchy and was much more successful than the first go round.

I finished 12 or 13 of 20 due to dropping a chain on the final lap of round 2 but had a blast.

Thanks!

RacerOne 08-28-13 11:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by craigcraigcraig (Post 15985697)
This thread was a major contributor to my first cross race ever last night. One thing I will add is to stick in the starting sprints rather than be nervous and try and get out of the way. The format was set up so after 3 laps 5 people were cut then you line up and go 2 laps and more were cut then 1 lap for winner takes all. so I got to start twice which was fun and I stuck myself in the second time instead of being nervous and touchy and was much more successful than the first go round.

I finished 12 or 13 of 20 due to dropping a chain on the final lap of round 2 but had a blast.

Thanks!

That's an interesting format.. why did they do that?

craigcraigcraig 08-29-13 06:36 AM

Just to have some fun for the first race before the season kicked off. It turns out to be more riding than a typical 45 minute race and involved a bit of strategy.

caloso 10-12-13 06:11 PM

A bit of wisdom from my son Lucas, who did his first race as a junior this morning: "If you're going to crash, try to crash on the practice lap."

Niloc 12-17-13 05:01 PM

Well I say stick with the conventional "go for it on the hole shot" and the whole first lap if you can. Passing other riders, while fun, costs energy and often forces you to take a less than an ideal or efficient line (because the rider in front that you are trying to pass has already taken that line). So I guess wherever in the group you are, getting yourself as far ahead as you can at the beginning is the most efficient strategy, because you'll be doing less passing, which is inefficient. Since cyclocross doesn't really involve drafting, being in front and fighting off challengers by staying in the most efficient line and finding that extra bit of energy when needed to prevent being overtaken is more efficient than being the overtaking party who has to find the extra energy to pass and take an alternate line.

Yeah maybe you'll be "punching above your weight" by sprinting at the start, but so are a lot of the guys around you. Also after that first lap, everybody is winded so in a sense it costs more for them to attempt to overtake you. So you risk less by slowing down at that point. It helps me with my mental toughness to feel like ok I've invested in this position, and I'm not giving it up dammit. This attitude helps on the final lap when you are trying to tap deep reserves to keep going. Although it's daunting, cyclocross races are short bursts of high energy and as folks say: did you feel like fainting / throwing up at the end? Good, then you're doing it right. So how do you make sure you arrive at the finish line with nothing left in the tank? Easy - overdo it at the beginning and then force yourself to hang on for the rest of the race. Don't give up any riders without a fight. We need motivation to keep going through pain and exhaustion. If you've already given up at the start, where do you find the willpower to tap those reserves? I guess if you know you are going to finish at the bottom regardless, then not killing yourself to get nowhere in the first lap could make sense.

Hey I'm a newbie, there are more nuanced approaches to energy management and I'm sure elite riders that ride races twice as long as mine have more complex strategies, but I know how I can get to the finish line exhausted!

MrMinty 08-08-16 05:58 AM

Will be racing my first CX race in ~6 weeks after converting a touring bike.

Question I'd like to know is eye protection- yes or no. I have interchangable lenses and would go for the clear or yellow depending on conditions or is it better to have non at all?

50voltphantom 08-22-16 10:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MrMinty (Post 18969169)
Will be racing my first CX race in ~6 weeks after converting a touring bike.

Question I'd like to know is eye protection- yes or no. I have interchangable lenses and would go for the clear or yellow depending on conditions or is it better to have non at all?

You have the right idea. If conditions are sloppy, just skip them all together. Otherwise, clear or yellow :thumb: For me, tinted lenses (regular sunglass lenses) affect my ability to decipher line choices accurately. Your mileage may vary.


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