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  1. #1
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    Barriers: speed revelations!

    I thought I would post some tips on getting faster through the barriers.

    I made some homemade PVC practice barriers the other night. This was an area I definitely needed to improve on. I was so slow.

    I got incredibly faster in just one nights practice. I was amazed at the speed I gained and surprised I hadn't read about what I was doing wrong. I will discuss my original technique, then my new technique.

    FWIW, I am 5'7" so 16" is a pretty high jump for a short dude.

    This isn't as much as a discussion on remounting as it is reference to flowing thru and keep a steady pace as you move through the barriers .

    Old technique sequence:
    Approach barriers at speed
    Pedal until you get to the barriers
    Brake as I got close to barriers
    Jump off (usually about one bike length from first barrier) (first mistake, way to close)
    (also, since I was braking, my bike was always a little behind me and it was hard to grab because I would have to turn around a little)
    Grab bike
    Slowly jump over first barrier (more like a high jump or vertical leap) (second mistake)
    trot to second barrier
    Jump again (the same way over next barrier)
    Stand there /trot slowly and remount bike
    Pedal off

    New sequence:
    Approach barriers at speed
    * don't brake - just use the terrain to slow you down, start coasting and stop pedaling
    * Next jump off bike way earlier than you think you need to, about 3 bike lengths from barrier.
    Start running next to bike and keep holding onto bars. (this was my first revelation; I kept thinking that I should stay on the bike for as long as possible. This was a mistake because actually when you dismount, and start running, you can actually increase your speed).
    Keep running at barrier (like I said, you will actually be going faster than when you were on the bike and coasting)
    Grab bike right before barrier. Lift that sucker up high. Since I am short, it also helped that I cock the bike at an angle (about 45* or more). Don't hold the bike straight up and down, make sure it is tilted a little.
    Now.....since you are running, it is way easier to power thru and jump the barriers. Since I am short, I found it was so much easier to get over both barriers when I was at speed, than when I stopped short and had to vertical leap over them. My goofy hop actually turned into a hurdle.
    Next......get over 2nd barrier (keep running) and set your bike down (keep running). Then when you are clear and your bike is rolling along smoothly (about 2 bike lengths from the barrier) remount.
    Don't be so worried about clipping in. (I think this is what actually slows the remount down). Make sure you are seated squarely and start pedaling. Power thru the remount.
    Keep pedaling and stop worrying about clipping in.
    Last.....as you are powering thru.....clip-in. It is way easier to clip in, once you are moving and you mind has processed making it's way through the barriers.



    For training, I went to the local elementary school and set as follows:
    First find a grassy area.
    Imagine a football field if you can't find one.
    Set your barriers on about the 50 yard line.
    Start at the 10 yard line and slowly accelerate
    make the transition thru the barriers and pedal hard thru the 80 yard line
    coast, turn around
    slowly pedal back down field (recover),
    turn around
    coast to 10 yard again and repeat

    I did this about 30 times. It was a great interval workout also.

    Hope that helps! This may seem like over analyzed info, but I figure it could help some rookies with the barriers.

  2. #2
    Carpe Diem bdcheung's Avatar
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    i'm faster if i dismount just before the barriers.

    i usually hop off the bike and take 2 strides before i reach the barrier.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by KDTX View Post
    * Next jump off bike way earlier than you think you need to, about 3 bike lengths from barrier.
    Start running next to bike and keep holding onto bars. (this was my first revelation; I kept thinking that I should stay on the bike for as long as possible. This was a mistake because actually when you dismount, and start running, you can actually increase your speed).
    This advice is wrong. You can coast on your bike way faster than you can run. If it's a normal barrier section, you just need two steps before the first barrier. Like this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbl4V9u2xtI

    People who are very short might clear barriers easier by grabbing the down tube instead of the top tube. (Grab it with your right arm to the left of the top tube, not over the top tube.) It's a little trickier to grab the down tube while coasting on the left pedal, but it's doable with a bit of practice.

  4. #4
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    Like others, I think that it's faster to dismount right before the first barrier. The setup is essential, coast in to the barriers at the right speed (as fast as possible) with your right hand on the top tube. When you unclip you should be within two steps of the barrier, and hit the ground running.

    I know that whether you step through with your right foot or not is a debated topic. After using both methods, I now use the step through for fast barrier sections where you can coast up to them, and I just step behind for other situations (slow barriers after a turn or when they're uphill and you have to almost pedal right up to them).

  5. #5
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    I agree with the above. I should have made the discliamer that I was super slow at the barriers and this has helped me transittion to being faster. I am sure with more practice, my dismounts will come a little closer to the first barrier. The above has just help me work through my "stop and hop" technique.

    Also, FWIW, Since I am shorter, I do find it easier to grab the down tube vs. the top tube. I did pop my finger nail a few times on the tire. I would recommned long fingered gloves, at least while learning.

  6. #6
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    I am the same height as you and don't find it necessary to grab the down tube for the barriers. I do make sure I give the bike some tilt as you mentioned.
    I only grab the down tube to shoulder the bike.

  7. #7
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    Meh, what does that guy know? You win a couple of national championship and suddenly you're an example to be followed?

    It's interesting to watch that video. I notice that he's out of the saddle and over the side at least three bike lengths from the barrier (he's schluffing ), but he doesn't actually hit the ground until a couple of steps before. I was surprised to see just how many steps he takes before he remounts. I was specifically watching for this when I saw him race at Alpenrose, and he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to get back on the bike.


    I went to a few clinics this year and spent hours working on this. It's now just about the only thing I do well. One of the things they told us, was that you shouldn't be jumping over the barriers at all. Don't hurdle them, step over them. I'm short too, and this took a lot of practice, but it works.

    Here's what I do:

    1. Plant my right foot just in front of the barrier
    2. Kick my left foot out to the side as I'm stepping over (those who aren't short won't need to kick out)
    3. Step over with the right foot normally (this is surprisingly easy and natural)

    I have to time my dismount just right to get the foot plant in step one correct, otherwise I do this awful hop step thing that looks ridiculous and breaks up any flow I might have had. If the barriers are spaced just right I can repeat the above procedure for the second and subsequent barriers, but the organizers around here like to play with the spacing, so I've had to work on doing the same sequence starting with a left-foot plant, which is a little trickier because the leg kick goes toward the bike.

    Anyway, if you do this right, you end up just running across the barriers almost as if they weren't even there, which is very efficient. It's all about the footwork.
    Last edited by Andy_K; 10-23-09 at 06:35 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    It's interesting to watch that video. I notice that he's out of the saddle and over the side at least three bike lengths from the barrier (he's schluffing ), but he doesn't actually hit the ground until a couple of steps before. I was surprised to see just how many steps he takes before he remounts.
    I consider what he does perfect. You have very little to gain by pedaling into the barriers and then rushing your dismount. Two steps before, two steps between, and four after is pretty canonical. Just two after is theoretically more efficient but adding two adds a bit of safety.

    I have stopped putting the right foot through. Instead, you actually release the left cleat before dismounting and "hovering" (i.e. holding yourself by arms) for a split second, no real risk of not unclipping. So putting the right foot through is an unnecessary step. YMMV

  9. #9
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    lots of good stuff to be followed here (except for the OP, sorry dude, but you need some more work and the suggestions outline will help.)

    I think it has already been said, but getting your self to the non drive side of the bike well before the barrier with the right hand either on the top tube close to the seat collar or on the down tube near the head tube so that you have time to get COMFORTABLE before the barrier is of utmost importance. You may lose a small amount of time by setting yourself up with time to spare before the barrier, but if you mess up a barrier it can cost you a lot more time.

    agree with flargle, on step throughs, they look fancy, but take more time and add another step that is not needed.
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  10. #10
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    BTW pretty much everything I've suggested is spelled out in greater detail, including photos, in Burney's book. If you search youtube on "superprestige" and "cyclocross technique", you'll see that different pros each have their own slight variation on the theme.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mr.smith.pdx's Avatar
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    I finally got a cross race down to one fall. I fell when I thought to hard and tried the "step through" For me, step behind and shuffle is just as fast. I go at least 4 had steps past the barrier. I went from 6th to 3rd in a race on the barriers by accelerating up to speed on foot then jumping on my bike. then from 2nd to 1st on the next lap. Fell down at the next barrier (blown step through) and ended up 2nd.

  12. #12
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    just bunny hop the barriers you sissies

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CatSkratch View Post
    just bunny hop the barriers you sissies



  14. #14
    Señor Member myclem's Avatar
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    I'm a short(er) guy, too.
    Making me watch Trebon is just rubbing it in. (thanks)

    I still grab the top tube, but need to make sure the saddle isn't caught under my armpit. Also, I try to lift high and away from my body instead of angling the bike to make the set down smoother.
    Trying to do more like 1:24 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWGnM_1ViZA#t=1m22s

  15. #15
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    One thing I've started to do this year after watching a few World Cups closley is I yank the bike up hard and almost throw it over the barriers. When I dismount right before the barrier I use my forward momentum to yank the bike up hard and out to the side, I almost have to use no strength to lift the bike over the barriers.

  16. #16
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    I'm 5'5". Y'all tall people have it easy as hell. You just step over the barriers. I have to leap.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

  17. #17
    sweathogs kennykaos's Avatar
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    im 5'9" but i have short legs and arms so i have to leap more than step over to, boo urns

  18. #18
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Look at the guy in the far right of the picture above. He's doing the leg kick thing I talked about.

  19. #19
    Señor Member myclem's Avatar
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    For me, one thing I noticed between the step-through versus the step-behind dismount is that the step-through seems to more consistently leave my pedals in a better position for remount, with the right pedal slightly over the top and primed for quickly stomping and clipping in.

    The step-behind dismount sometimes makes me push the left pedal forward leaving the right pedal towards the back so that as my right foot swings over, I can't use that momentum for pedaling, but have to either use the left foot to get the first stroke through or accidentally backpedal with the right foot. On uphill remounts, this could mean losing a lot of momentum and control.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheRivet View Post
    One thing I've started to do this year after watching a few World Cups closley is I yank the bike up hard and almost throw it over the barriers. When I dismount right before the barrier I use my forward momentum to yank the bike up hard and out to the side, I almost have to use no strength to lift the bike over the barriers.
    I found out as I was approaching a barrier at speed, and dismounted with my left hand having slight pressure on the front brake, that the bike kicked up nicely. The first time it was a happy accident, and then from then on it was a bit more deliberate.

  21. #21
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    if you don't pull your let through you leave your self literally 1 step behind. Your left foot is in the same spot either way. Then your right foot is either in front or behind. If you don't pull through you are left taking that step with the right foot to get even with where you would have been.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by crocodilefundy View Post
    if you don't pull your let through you leave your self literally 1 step behind. Your left foot is in the same spot either way. Then your right foot is either in front or behind. If you don't pull through you are left taking that step with the right foot to get even with where you would have been.
    I really hope this is a joke.

  23. #23
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    to the people saying they have to jump over the barriers: do you have inflexible hamstrings? Watch hurdlers go over 40"+ hurdlers without jumping. That hurdling technique is what you should be using to get over 16" high barriers, but it takes some hamstring flexibility to do it.
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  24. #24
    Carpe Diem bdcheung's Avatar
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    hurdlers use the pumping of their arms to generate some upward momentum when approaching a hurdle.

    how one does that while portaging a bike is beyond me.
    "When you are chewing the bars at the business end of a 90 mile road race you really dont care what gear you have hanging from your bike so long as it works."
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  25. #25
    Overacting because I can SpongeDad's Avatar
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    I find it easier / more natural to run through the barriers if I use the step through technique. If I slow down too much, that's when it's more of a jump over the barrier.
    “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm." (Churchill)

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