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Old 12-07-09, 11:12 AM   #1
bitterken
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Now that the season has ended, what changes to make for 2010?

This was my second full season of cyclocross, and the first time racing it in a long time. I did 12 races - 7 cat 4 and 5 cat 3/4 35+. I know I'm addicted because I'm already thinking about next year, and thinking about how to plan my year so I would be better at cross in 2010.

I found that I do better on courses where fitness really matters, like ones with long climbs and open straights. I suck in slippery conditions like mud and loose sand and am chicken sh1t on fast descents with blind turns.

The best equipment choice I made this year was to run tubular wheels. Running low pressures helped a lot with traction and the lower weight helped too. I also ran slightly wider bars and a slightly shorter stem then my road bike, and felt this really helped with handling on the stuff where I had to steer with my bars rather then leaning.

I wasn't really happy with my gearing choice though. I ran a 42T single ring and a 12-27 cassette. While it was fine, there were a few races where having easier gearing would have helped and would have meant one or two fewer times per lap, where I would have to get off the bike. I think next year, I'm going to run the typical 46T-38T double.

I also need to get better at riding the technical stuff. I've never mountain biked before, but I think I'm going to have to get one and hit the trails.

So I think next year, I'll continue to put most of my time in on the road bike for fitness building and do some crits and other short and intense road events, and mix in some mtb rides during the week and weekends when I'm not racing on the road. I think about half-way through summer, I'm going to try out a few mtb races - maybe even earlier if my teammates are serious about racing mtb too. Like this year, I'll take a few weeks off between the racing seasons.

What are you guys thinking for next year?
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Old 12-07-09, 11:43 AM   #2
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next year?

register earlier.
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Old 12-07-09, 11:44 AM   #3
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i raced 16 times this year

first thought for me is to get a second bike. ill probably buy another ridley with identical geometry so I can pit out bikes without any problems. there was way too much mud this year not to have one. lesson learned

im going to take my mountain bike in sometime this week to have someone take a look at it and suggest whether or not I should use it or get a new frame. i planned on racing mtb last year to improve my handling and this year I think i will finally do it.

im about this close to skipping road racing entirely. ive gotten hurt racing road the previous three years and im tired of it impacting my cross season. i dont know. once the season get here and the group rides thin out its hard to not get suckered into doing some.

this year im leaving cross season in much better shape than last year so I hope to build on that for next year. Last year I raced cross until february even after being burned out in early november. that really set me back tremendously going into this season.
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Old 12-07-09, 02:00 PM   #4
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I'm srapping the road season, well most of it. I'm using the tail of it for training, mostly TTs. Along with that, my 2nd road bike and race wheels will be sold off. I'll be getting a new primary cross bike and using the current one as a pit bike. Will pick up two sets of box section wheelsets and with appropriate tubs.

I'll be catting up to the B race. I might pick up a MTN bike; being talked into Backer's Dozen.
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Old 12-07-09, 02:13 PM   #5
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Ken-

What courses did the 42t chainring not give you easy enough gearing? I've found that to be the perfect combination for me. But from the description of your strengths we may be on the opposite ends of the spectrum. I'm more of a mud, slop, grind it out racer.

Second bike for me, definitely. Yesterday, Granogue, MABRA Champs, all would have been great races for a bike change.
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Old 12-07-09, 02:34 PM   #6
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Next year - hills. Short hills, long hills, more hills, riding hills, running hills, over and over and over.
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Old 12-07-09, 02:57 PM   #7
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What courses did the 42t chainring not give you easy enough gearing?
1. Kelley Acres, the short little right into a hill after passing under the flyover and before the wooded areas in the back half
2. Ed Sanders, the last 180 on the hill by the back half announcing area
3. Rockburn, the last short uphill before getting on the paved start/finish section

All three have something in common - a sharp turn into them. Admittedly, if I were better at handling my bike, I would have been able to carry more momentum out of the turns so the lack of gearing would have been far less of an issue...

In contrast, I was the most confident and fastest on DCCX, Hyattsville, and Tacchino. These courses didn't really have sharp turns into a hill...but all were dry and had spots where I could just go heads down and hammer or stand up and grind up some hills...

I didn't race yesterday, but if it were dry, I might have been just okay, but those conditions, I would have been lucky to make it one lap..
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Old 12-07-09, 03:45 PM   #8
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The biggest thing I'm intending to do for next year is to go through a more structured training program. I'm already starting on this now with some AA-phase weight lifting. My power and speed sucked this year. Come summer I think I'll try some non-CX racing, maybe time trials and definitely STCX.

I've got to improve my bike handling before next season, so I'll definitely be trying to get in some mountain biking and just generally looking for parks/fields where I can practice specific skills.

I also need to do more on-foot sprinting/hill running next year toward the end of summer. Every time I got off the bike, my heart rate went through the roof. I had done a lot of aerobic-level running before this season, but that seems not to have been what I needed.

As for equipment, I think I need some file-tread tires for the early-season dry races. I'll probably pick up a Salsa Bell Lap or some other type of flared handlebar.

I want more gear choices to be able to customize for each course. I'm thinking maybe a 46-36 crankset as a base, but there were a couple of places where I used my 30T granny ring, so for those I'll either want to go 1x10 with a small ring or maybe try a 38-30 chainring set up. In the back, I like the 13-25 cassette I used this year, but next year I'll probably go to a 12-27 for the hillier courses. Or, maybe I'll do more singlespeed races.
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Old 12-07-09, 03:51 PM   #9
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im thinking of maybe having a double on my new bike for next season but not because my 42 13/26 was over geared but rather under geared at times. Im going to look for a 44/38 front setup
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Old 12-07-09, 03:59 PM   #10
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im thinking of maybe having a double on my new bike for next season but not because my 42 13/26 was over geared but rather under geared at times. Im going to look for a 44/38 front setup
Come to think of it, now that cx world is making more options, a 44/38 set up is possible and would be pretty sweet. I've only heard good things about their Thorne rings. If I had a 110bcd, a 42/34 set up could be interesting too...
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Old 12-07-09, 04:16 PM   #11
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It may be fredly - but I was happy to have a triple this year. 39 was pretty good for almost any occasion, but there were a few times when I granny'ed it and spun like my life depended on it. 53 is too big, although I used it once or twice - maybe a 46 or 48 for paved sections. As much as I came into this thinking I needed to be able to ride bigger gears at 70 rpm, the reality is, for a lot of conditions I ended up spinning.
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Old 12-08-09, 12:44 AM   #12
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I also need to do more on-foot sprinting/hill running next year toward the end of summer. Every time I got off the bike, my heart rate went through the roof. I had done a lot of aerobic-level running before this season, but that seems not to have been what I needed.

I want more gear choices to be able to customize for each course. I'm thinking maybe a 46-36 crankset as a base, but there were a couple of places where I used my 30T granny ring, so for those I'll either want to go 1x10 with a small ring or maybe try a 38-30 chainring set up. In the back, I like the 13-25 cassette I used this year, but next year I'll probably go to a 12-27 for the hillier courses. Or, maybe I'll do more singlespeed races.
These 2 points seem to go hand in hand. If you work on your run then you will be confident that you can out run the speed of riding a 30tooth front ring.
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Old 12-08-09, 12:46 AM   #13
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I'd like to go from triple to double. Never went into big during a race. But I do use it for training and riding. Maybe I'll switch my bike to a commuter and get a new one for next season. If not, can I still use my triple brifters with a double ring? will I just have to double shift -- or set my limit screws?
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Old 12-08-09, 12:54 AM   #14
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I am just going to throw this out for discussion

IMO MTB racing might not be the best use of time and money for someone who wants to get better at cross. Some concerns might be false confidence i.e. there is a lot of stuff that is easy on an mtb that I would not consider on a cross bike. Also, lack of overlap in skill sets; for instance, when was the last time you did a series of 180deg off camber turns on wet grass with barriers between them while on your MTB?

I think those who want to get better at technical cross riding, most of us, should do more technical cross riding. Buy some flags, make some barriers, and put together some courses that will challenge you. I had considered getting back to MTBing, but I think I am just going to take most of August and set up some stuff that simulates challenges in cyclocross rather than spending time and money doing racing/riding that will not necessarily transfer well to cross.

I have not shut the door on doing some MTBing, so I would be interested in peoples dissenting opinions, but I think the old adage applies in this situation; if you want to be a writer, write.
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Old 12-08-09, 12:55 AM   #15
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I'd like to go from triple to double. Never went into big during a race. But I do use it for training and riding. Maybe I'll switch my bike to a commuter and get a new one for next season. If not, can I still use my triple brifters with a double ring? will I just have to double shift -- or set my limit screws?
you will just have a click that does nothing. It will be fine.
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Old 12-08-09, 06:11 AM   #16
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we have weekly 30-45 minute mtb races in my district that transfer to cross skills and fitness well. i plan on riding my cross bike on mtb trails too but i need as much help descending on off road stuff as possible so i dont see how starting off on a stabler bike wont help boost my confidence getting down stuff fast.

i dont look at mtb racing as getting me ready for cross as much as i see it as something to help prevent burning out from riding and racing the road bike so much.
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Old 12-08-09, 07:52 AM   #17
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you will just have a click that does nothing. It will be fine.
You won't even have that - if the limit screws and cable tension are set correctly, the extra click won't happen (it's there, but the cable will be tight enough that you won't actually be able to use it). At least, that's how it ended up happening on my wife's bike (using mtb triple trigger shifter to actuate a road double).
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Old 12-08-09, 09:30 AM   #18
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If you don't do it already, MTB riding will make you a far more complete cyclist and therefore a better crosser. It will teach you techniques and lines that you would never learn if you just rode in circles at the local park on your cross bike. Now, there is a caveat: a lot of mountain bikers are more interested at hanging out at the rock drops and jawing than in actually covering miles. That sort of mountain biking won't help you much. But it can be a lot of fun.

Riding mtb trails on the cross bike is a good workout, but still won't teach you the skills you get from honest-to-goodness mtb riding.
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Old 12-08-09, 01:37 PM   #19
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If you don't do it already, MTB riding will make you a far more complete cyclist and therefore a better crosser. It will teach you techniques and lines that you would never learn if you just rode in circles at the local park on your cross bike. Now, there is a caveat: a lot of mountain bikers are more interested at hanging out at the rock drops and jawing than in actually covering miles. That sort of mountain biking won't help you much. But it can be a lot of fun.

Riding mtb trails on the cross bike is a good workout, but still won't teach you the skills you get from honest-to-goodness mtb riding.
thing i noticed about trail riding on the cross bike is that i could push myself to the point of exhaustion safely - not having to worry about weaving into traffic; the effort feels a lot like TT - how much pain can you stand for how long?;

planning on cross skills drills year round; gonna add some honest-to-goodness mtb riding using an old rigid frame/fork rig; gonna keep doing as many crits, RR, and TT as I can, but cx is my favorite
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Old 12-08-09, 01:39 PM   #20
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If you don't do it already, MTB riding will make you a far more complete cyclist and therefore a better crosser. It will teach you techniques and lines that you would never learn if you just rode in circles at the local park on your cross bike.

Riding mtb trails on the cross bike is a good workout, but still won't teach you the skills you get from honest-to-goodness mtb riding.
kind of what i was thinking; thing i noticed about trail riding on the cross bike is that i could push myself to the point of exhaustion safely - not having to worry about weaving into traffic; the effort feels a lot like TT - how much pain can you stand for how long?;

planning on cross skills drills year round; gonna add some honest-to-goodness mtb riding using an old rigid frame/fork rig; gonna keep doing as many crits, RR, and TT as I can, but cx is my favorite
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Old 12-08-09, 05:13 PM   #21
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My season went really well I think, at least better than I expected. My first goal was to top 20, then get a call-up, and finally a good result at states. All achieved. I am also thinking about next year. Although, apparently a winter series is in the works.

What worked: Listening and learning from experienced riders and following their lines in practice. I ran tubulars the last several races and I believe this gave me confidence on technical terrain. My single ring worked pretty well, not so much at the beginning of the season but as the season went on my fitness and power increased. I also think my bike is fine, but bringing another bike for the pits would have helped me on at least three occasions. Oh, almost forgot I used embro this year - awesome!

What I need to do is learn more about fitness, peaking and specialized training. I began doing tabata intervals this year and I believe they helped a lot. Actually, I think they made all the difference for me. But, my knowledge in this area is limited and I am considering getting a coach.

My goals for next year are consistent top tens and upgrade to CAT 3. As far as equipment, I plan to get some lighter tubulars and put some file treads on my current wheels. So Fango's or Grifo's on my everyday race wheels, and Grifo XS on my special occasion/pit wheels. I ordered a skin suit - not an upgrade, but I will look cooler.
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Old 12-08-09, 10:15 PM   #22
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If you don't do it already, MTB riding will make you a far more complete cyclist and therefore a better crosser. It will teach you techniques and lines that you would never learn if you just rode in circles at the local park on your cross bike. Now, there is a caveat: a lot of mountain bikers are more interested at hanging out at the rock drops and jawing than in actually covering miles. That sort of mountain biking won't help you much. But it can be a lot of fun.

Riding mtb trails on the cross bike is a good workout, but still won't teach you the skills you get from honest-to-goodness mtb riding.
Are you talking riding MTB trails on your cross bike or just riding MTBs (I bet real mountain bikers laugh at us for calling them MTBs.) I am all for riding cross bikes on MTB trails, but I remain unconvinced that riding MTBs is the best way to make a cross rider a better bike handler.
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Old 12-09-09, 08:10 AM   #23
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Mountain biking will teach you to ride in low traction conditions. But, you are correct that you won't see the mud or off-camber that we get in cross. I can say for sure that my mountain bike background made my bike handling significantly better than most of the roadies in Cat4. But, once you get to the front of the pack, or upgrade, everybody knows how to handle a bike.

The real "problem" with mountain biking is there are relatively few group training rides (compared to road). Most group rides are casual-to-moderate pace, no-drop, fun rides. If you want to get in a specific workout off-road, you'll likely have to schedule it yourself. But then, that's true of cyclocross training (in the off-season) as well.

I would add mountain biking just for the variety.
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Old 12-09-09, 09:09 AM   #24
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I would add mountain biking just for the variety.
If for nothing else, I would do it for this.
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Old 12-09-09, 09:19 AM   #25
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I had my left ankle fused last week. Next year the constant ankle pain and the "through the roof pain" when off the bike will be gone. I'll be better able to prepare for the season by including off the bike training beginning in mid-summer. I will not be able run for miles but will be mobile enough to work on short sprints, hill carries and barrier work. Another thing I'll add will be in the 2nd half of the summer, instead of doing my Z- 2 rides on the road, I'll take some rides in the local park and ride the cross course and MTB trails to work on smooth bike handling skills. I may just end up a little better than my current mediocrity in the B races.
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