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Old 03-04-12, 02:32 PM   #1
Nick Bain
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what is the course strategy?

hammer up the hills and coast down them?

As a roadie Im not sure I get how to ride a cx race.

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Old 03-04-12, 03:06 PM   #2
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..un less you can get over the hump faster with the bike on your shoulder, running.
might be loose soil and Muddy , and then you will bog down and get passed.
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Old 03-05-12, 11:24 AM   #3
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just ride your bike hard whenever you can as the course allows. accelerate (get out of the saddle!!) out of every corner and get back up to speed as quickly as possible. maintain your momentum through obstacles. mistakes will be made - minimize your own and capitalize on others.' know your strengths and weaknesses so you can manage them during the race - there's almost always a section(s) where you will rock and others where you will suck. in some ways, cx is just damage control . .. .if you bobble and lose a few seconds, make it up somewhere. go hard, take chances, and keep racing even when it doesn't go as planned.
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Old 03-06-12, 03:04 PM   #4
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Hammer when you can.
Coast when you can't.
Do not use brakes unless absolutely necessary.
If you can't ride it, or if it's slower to ride it; run it.
Don't bunnyhop unless you can do it 100% of the time.
If nothing else, don't stop moving forward.

Your lungs and legs will be screaming, drool will be hanging from your mouth, but It's all good as long as you give it your all.
Have fun and enjoy yourself. It's only 40 minutes out of your week.

Above all, buy Simon Burney's book. It'll tell you just about everything that you really need to know.
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Old 03-17-12, 08:16 AM   #5
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I've been pondering this thread for over a week. I think eddubal pretty much has it nailed, but want to add a couple thoughts.

Because of the slow (relative to road racing) speeds, cross is much more of a pure endurance sport than road racing. In a crit, you might have to turn yourself inside-out to make the main selection, and then eventually the pace slackens. That would be suicide in a cross race, because it will just ruin the rest of your race.

How do you know if you are pacing yourself correctly? Lap times. You can use a wristwatch to grab them, you just have to remember to hit the lap button whenever you cross the start/finish.

Always be looking for the optimal line/strategy at every part of the course. It's not always obvious, especially since most course designers enjoy presenting you with dilemmas. But, in general, the default line is a late apex, especially entering a series of turns. Check out just how wide Tim Johnson takes the turn at 2:10, and how it sets him up for the rest of that section: http://vimeo.com/30940214
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Old 05-02-12, 07:56 AM   #6
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I view a one hour cross event as though it was a time trial. It's a time trial with nasty obstacles in your way. So basically it's balls to the wall the whole time. But like a TT you cannot over cook yourself at first. You go hard from the start and then settle in to the end. You have to find the right threshold to settle in at. IOW unlike a TT you also have some race dynamics to work with like race psychology, when to attack, when to look strong to trick your competition, even sometimes team tactics. So unlike a TT you may have to surge into the red zone for a bit and recover. But over all the psychical effort is very similar to a TT especially if you are alone off the front or chasing which happens in about 90% of the races you do.
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Old 07-09-12, 07:01 AM   #7
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In general, as long as the trail is straight/smooth enough to do so, I’m generally pedaling as hard as I can, regardless of whether there is an incline/ decline. I generally coast into corners and up to obstacles as I shed speed and catch my breath a little. The biggest surprise when I first did a cross race after racing road was how everyone sprinted off of the line. Generally, the race will start in a more open stretch of dirt road and then get onto trails. Once your hit the trail, if you get stuck behind a slower rider, you’ll be slowing down to his speed until you find an opportunity to pass and all the while the leaders are opening up more distance on you. The best time to get past people will be in the first few hundred feet.
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Old 07-09-12, 06:44 PM   #8
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The race is won off the start line, not at the finish line.
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Old 07-10-12, 10:24 AM   #9
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The race is won off the start line, not at the finish line.
To expand on this a little. The start line sprint may seem a bit nuts since you're going to be riding for so long. However, CX puts a premium on bike handling. The speed you roll when you're not pedaling is often more important that the speed you have when you are. If you don't go hard off the line, then you'll get in the pack and invariably be held up by people who are slow in the corners. Often there's no place to pass. So you can lose all sorts of time by not going hard initially, not because of the ground you make up with the effort itself, but where it puts you later in the race.
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Old 07-11-12, 11:13 AM   #10
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The race is won off the start line, not at the finish line.
The racer with the lowest average lap time wins the race.

The importance of getting a fast start is dependent on the field size, the course, your line-up position, and your skill and fitness relative to other racers. If you go too hard on lap 1, you absolutely will pay for it for the rest of the race. It's not fun getting passed in the second half of a race.
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Old 07-11-12, 01:38 PM   #11
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The racer with the lowest average lap time wins the race.

The importance of getting a fast start is dependent on the field size, the course, your line-up position, and your skill and fitness relative to other racers. If you go too hard on lap 1, you absolutely will pay for it for the rest of the race. It's not fun getting passed in the second half of a race.
It is true that the field size makes race dynamics make a difference. I race in both single-speed and cat-4 races. In the single-speed field, there are fewer people, and most everyone can ride a bike, so there aren't as many people to get stuck behind, and when I am waiting to pass, the person I'm waiting to get around is only moving marginally slower what I would otherwise have been riding. Starting position of the line had a relatively small impact on how I place. The SS fields are usually really strong, so I don't have any chance at winning, no matter where I am in the start.

In Cat4 races where I do have a chance, I've shown up late to the starting line and with a field twice the size of the SS field and been stuck waiting behind one excruciatingly slow person after another. At that point you'd be lucky to finish in the front half of the field and can pretty well kiss any podium aspirations goodbye, even if you are the strongest rider in the race.
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Old 07-16-12, 08:47 AM   #12
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There's an easy solution to getting stuck in large, slow cat 4 fields.
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Old 07-16-12, 08:19 PM   #13
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There's an easy solution to getting stuck in large, slow cat 4 fields.
Yeah, show up early, get a good jump off the start line.
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Old 07-17-12, 10:25 AM   #14
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There's an easy solution to getting stuck in large, slow cat 4 fields.
I'm assuming you mean don't race in them...which makes for a chicken/egg scenario. You have to race in them at some point or you can't upgrade. So you do what Debusama said. Even if it hurts your overall performance, you have to be able to start very hard because the people you're racing will. I will say that if it's a hard start and I slot in somewhere in the top 10 and can see the front, I'm generally willing to stay there and watch the leaders for a bit. If at any point the guys I'm with start to drift back, then I move forward (assuming I can). Trying to slot in twentieth to conserve energy and then work you way through the field in the last 15 minutes won't work.
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Old 09-13-12, 05:20 PM   #15
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Do not use brakes unless absolutely necessary.
Been thinkin on this one for a while now. If you're going as fast as possible in a straight wouldn't you need to use the brakes entering a corner? If you can make the corner without braking wouldn't that mean you weren't moving as fast as possible in the straight? Educate me.
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Old 09-14-12, 09:16 AM   #16
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There's an easy solution to getting stuck in large, slow cat 4 fields.
He means upgrade. You can do it after 10 races.

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Been thinkin on this one for a while now. If you're going as fast as possible in a straight wouldn't you need to use the brakes entering a corner? If you can make the corner without braking wouldn't that mean you weren't moving as fast as possible in the straight? Educate me.
Of course you have to brake for corners but a lot of newbies over brake or brake even when unneeded.
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Old 09-19-12, 06:08 PM   #17
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I'm just starting my second season. Here's what I've learned so far.

Be aggressive at the start.
Fight hard for the corners.
Don't be afraid to get up close and personal with the tape.
Stay off your brakes as much as possible.
Spend the extra effort to get around sketchy riders even if they're not in your field.
Get your dismounts/remounts down.
Play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
Dig in where others get discouraged.
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Old 11-14-12, 11:32 AM   #18
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If you're pulling up to someone it's because they have dropped off the pace. Staying with them will only slow you down. Unless you're in the lead group think of it as a time trial, as has been said earlier.

Recovery is really the name of the game. Focusing on this has been huge for me. Sometimes the place to turn the screws is not on a big course feature (runup, climb), but after when the other guy is gasping for breath.
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Old 11-14-12, 04:41 PM   #19
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I'm just starting my second season. Here's what I've learned so far.

Be aggressive at the start.
Fight hard for the corners.
Don't be afraid to get up close and personal with the tape.
Stay off your brakes as much as possible.
Spend the extra effort to get around sketchy riders even if they're not in your field.
Get your dismounts/remounts down.
Play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses.
Dig in where others get discouraged.
Also dig in where others are trying to recover.

(I ride a SSCX and have found, to my surprise, that I often pass a lot of geared riders on the flat, packed straightaways where their higher gears should give them the advantage. I think they're using those sections to recover from the harder parts, either intentionally or unintentionally. Since I can't shift, I just focus on spinning my pedals as quickly as possible.)
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Old 11-14-12, 11:06 PM   #20
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Interesting observation, caloso. I kind of noticed the same thing last weekend. We had a lot of fire road and a beach section in the race I did. I would hit those and treat it just like I was riding a 2x20 threshold interval. I noticed a lot of people were just not comfortable at that pace. They seemed to go more at an SST pace. It's easy to just let up on the pedals a bit and make it hurt less. You've got to be willing to make it hurt, but at the same time not go so hard that you blow up. It's a tricky game.
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Old 11-15-12, 03:20 PM   #21
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Also dig in where others are trying to recover.

(I ride a SSCX and have found, to my surprise, that I often pass a lot of geared riders on the flat, packed straightaways where their higher gears should give them the advantage. I think they're using those sections to recover from the harder parts, either intentionally or unintentionally. Since I can't shift, I just focus on spinning my pedals as quickly as possible.)
I've had the same kind of experience. When racing singlespeed being able to spin fast enough when it gets easier is usually the challenge.

On my geared bike I'm always clicking down to a tougher gear as soon as the hard part is over.

I've also learned that for me shouldering/running can help me recover. If riding is not clearly faster I'll often do that. It's also less risky. In my last race I finally dropped a guy on the runup when he tried to ride it and lost traction.
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Old 11-16-12, 08:25 AM   #22
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Also dig in where others are trying to recover.

(I ride a SSCX and have found, to my surprise, that I often pass a lot of geared riders on the flat, packed straightaways where their higher gears should give them the advantage. I think they're using those sections to recover from the harder parts, either intentionally or unintentionally. Since I can't shift, I just focus on spinning my pedals as quickly as possible.)
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Interesting observation, caloso. I kind of noticed the same thing last weekend. We had a lot of fire road and a beach section in the race I did. I would hit those and treat it just like I was riding a 2x20 threshold interval. I noticed a lot of people were just not comfortable at that pace. They seemed to go more at an SST pace. It's easy to just let up on the pedals a bit and make it hurt less. You've got to be willing to make it hurt, but at the same time not go so hard that you blow up. It's a tricky game.
Yep. This is where I gain ground. If I come around to a straight section, I'm in the drops out of the saddle & then bury myself. Always pass people.
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Old 11-16-12, 11:30 AM   #23
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Yep. This is where I gain ground. If I come around to a straight section, I'm in the drops out of the saddle & then bury myself. Always pass people.
Straight fast sections are where you have the most energy to save by drafting, and the least time to gain by burying yourself. This is because air drag increases with the square of velocity. Tactically, however, it might be worthwhile to move up a couple spots before the course goes tighter, if you're not gassing yourself in the process.

The ideal, kind of asholish, thing to do is draft a strong rider on the start/finish stretch, then come around him right before the course heads into the twisty-turnies. The best outcome is you gap him in the tougher sections and never see him again. At the very least, he has to spend more energy getting around you, after having pulled that entire stretch of pavement.
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Old 11-16-12, 01:32 PM   #24
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If you're pulling up to someone it's because they have dropped off the pace. Staying with them will only slow you down. Unless you're in the lead group think of it as a time trial, as has been said earlier.

Recovery is really the name of the game. Focusing on this has been huge for me. Sometimes the place to turn the screws is not on a big course feature (runup, climb), but after when the other guy is gasping for breath.
To add to this advice, if some one catches you then try desperately to stay with them.
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Old 11-16-12, 02:33 PM   #25
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To add to this advice, if some one catches you then try desperately to stay with them.
+1
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