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  1. #1
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Tips for good starts?

    So I've been improving a lot this season (my second), but one area where I'm still pretty mediocre is starts. The funny thing is I think I would start much better if I had a callup, but I won't get one until I improve my results. For me that means improving my starts. I tend to come on stronger as the race goes on, but I always miss the selection at the beginning.

    Starting at the edge has helped as it seems like a lot of the chaos happens in the middle, but I still get spooked. I'm definitely not the sprinter type physically or otherwise.

    Maybe I give up too early too. Seems like I sort of accept my fate after the first corner.

    Any tips would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    aka mattio queerpunk's Avatar
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    For starters, practice. I used to go to a park with a hill and work on my starts - clip in, sprint off the line, and charge up a hill. Rest, repeat.

    That won't necessarily get you more comfortable with the chaos, but if you can ride by people who are charging the chaos, then that's good.
    the hipster myth.

    i practice vagabondery.

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    I'm pretty sure your decision to go to one side or the other is a bad one. You might perceive that you have more room, but it only takes a single sharp turn or obstacle to get you stuck. In a river, the fastest flowing water is usually in the middle, because there aren't those eddies that tend to happen toward the shore.

    Do everything in your power (and within ethical boundaries) to get the best possible start position. And make sure that you've warmed up well, have opened up those legs and lungs so that the start isn't such a shock to your system.

    Start in a larger gear. Your first couple pedalstrokes might be slower, but it's easier to get clipped in and really move once you get started. Look for gaps and don't be shy about taking them. There are ways of moving up in traffic while still maintaining control and not totally blowing up. Big gear, steady riding. Frankly, a lot of it goes to fitness, skill, and confidence.

  4. #4
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Good advice so far, I;m the same as you. I suck at starting have never been able to get good at it. Practice of course is the best, especially in a group. Sprinters have a natural advantage on this since it's all fast twitch that gets you there. BUt then they die and I just pick them off one by one once it becomes a war of attrition. But the hole shot is a huge advantage in a race.
    If you don't talk to your cat about catnip, who will? =^.^=

  5. #5
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone.

    Just to be clear I tend to cut for the center as soon as the opportunity presents itself, but for me at least starting on the outside tends to work a little better.

    It seems like when you start at the back it's not one big acceleration but a series of smaller ones.

    I definitely agree about warmup. I need to get better about that.

    Hopefully experience will help with the nerves. Maybe the early crash situation will be better if/when I move up a category?

    I think one thing I'm doing wrong is giving up too early. My next race is going to be on a flat and open course with few natural bottlenecks so I'm going to try to go a little harder throughout the first lap.

  6. #6
    bf is my facebook. ljrichar's Avatar
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    Why would you start at the back? If you know who gets the callups, stage right behind them & then just move into their spot when called up

  7. #7
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Had probably my best start ever on Saturday. I brought an extra layer for warming up in and spun around a fair bit before staging including a few start-type sprints.

    The starting straight was a little wider than usual and I lined up behind my teammate who is a good starter. I just stepped on it and followed his line. I was sitting top ten by the runup and gained a few more places in the rest of the first lap.

    Then I botched my dismount the second time before the runup and ended up on the ground. Doh! Even after dislodging my heel from my spokes and straightening my bars and left shifter I was able to claw back a few of the places I lost and finish respectably though. Making that split really made the difference. My placing may have even qualified me for a callup next time, but I'm not holding my breath.

  8. #8
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Haha yes sheot happens in cross. Warming up is essential.
    If you don't talk to your cat about catnip, who will? =^.^=

  9. #9
    Foward Leaning Attitude rithem's Avatar
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    the outsides are always better ... your best prep is a good course recon in addition to your warm up
    --- if the the hole shot is a right turn start on the left etc ... crashes can always happen but in the grid 9 out of 10 it's in the middle --

    for example --- Here is New England we stage by Crossresults.com points, so depending on who is there in the 3 race I am usually in the back to middle 3rd --

    This year (and last) at Cycle Smart International in Northampton, Mass there was a HUGE pile up not 5 secs after the start; with 130 riders in the grid it's utter chaos. To my benefit in this situation I was behind the wreck but since I took the far left in the grid on my call up I rode right around it and moved from 80th on the start to 40th into the hole shot, made my race. --- it's hard to catch up to people going the same speed as you so the closer you get to them at the start the better off you are. As far as what gear to start in you will know which by doing your recon and dialing in.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by rithem View Post
    the outsides are always better ...
    If you really want to be safe, then just hang in the back and wait for about 5 seconds before setting off.

    It is a race, however, and there is a battle for the most advantageous positions. I don't think you're ever going to get around that fact. If you hang on the outside line around a turn, you'll end up that many places behind guys who went for the more direct line.

  11. #11
    Foward Leaning Attitude rithem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    If you hang on the outside line around a turn, you'll end up that many places behind guys who went for the more direct line.
    or you end up that many places in front of the tards that stack it up in the first corner ....

  12. #12
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    I generally go for the inside line in the first corner. It's backfired on me once, but the course narrowed down quickly and people were going down on the other side too.

    I guess if there's one thing I've learned about starting this season it's to do my thing a little more and worry about what others are doing a little less.

  13. #13
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    You may get out front at the *** with a callup, but if you don't have the power off the line to stay there you're just going to get swamped in the starting sprint.
    My biggest work over last off-season was improving my top-end cadence and doing a lot of weight work for power. This season I was able to hold a place in the top 5 off the line, and often through the first lap or two.

    If I'm forced into starting mid/rear of the group, I make sure that I've looked over the starting straight and the first couple turns and pre-checked a couple different lines. Especially with the insanity of an 85 - 100 rider field, I don't like being near the middle of anything. There's no opportunity to actually sprint the start, and the rest of the race ends up feeling like a charity ride through the mud (or dust, this year) if you're swamped in with the last 30% of your group, and probably getting caught by the front end of the next start wave, too.
    I aim for the outside line, even if it means it's not the smoothest or most pleasant (like taking the outside edge of the upper maze at Big Finn Hill, where no one wants to ride b/c the blackberry stickers hang out into the course) because it's free of people and I can power up and gain a few places. At Finn Hill, I hit the first corner about 35 back from the front but finished the race at 13th, and I gained most of that in the first half-lap.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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