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Old 09-29-13, 01:58 PM   #1
longe
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Energy management during race

Where do you find spots to rest during races? I'm finding that I'll overtake some on technical parts and punching up small hills, but get passed again on the straightaways while I take a second to rest on those. I usually find a spot to pass again later on, but it would be nice to drop them and pick up another position. I haven't figured cross out yet.

How can I manage energy more effectively? Where can I conserve, and where should I blast it?
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Old 09-30-13, 05:56 AM   #2
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I'm not sure you can really ease off or recover without getting passed unless you find yourself alone. I usually try to go ape on the first lap and then keep it at upper Zone 4 after. If I've got a good gap, I'll ease off on a downhill or through some course feature like a turn where you can't really pedal. Aside from that, it's pretty much a hammerfest from start to finish.
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Old 09-30-13, 01:23 PM   #3
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You just need more fitness. There is no resting in a 30-60' race unless you're the fastest guy & you're just marking the front group. You can rest when the race is over.
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Old 09-30-13, 02:15 PM   #4
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I have started using the big ring more, especially on long straight sections. I can maintain speed (or even go a little faster) at a lower cadence. It has helped a little.

Also, for runups and barriers, I have started to just try and be smooth through them vs, going 100%. Taking them just a little slower has allowed me to not be gassed once I get to the top (or the other side). This way I can hit it hard again vs trying to recover.

Everything else is pretty much full gas, except downhills where you can take a short breather.
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Old 10-01-13, 12:48 AM   #5
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There is no rest in cross racing, I've tried it, it doesn't work. However, I have read where some of the pro's mark out specific sections of the course where they plan to take a bit of a breather. That means they likely slow down to my fastest pace.
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Old 10-02-13, 12:24 PM   #6
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Anywhere I know I am going to need to brake (such as hard corner or leading up to a barracade), I usually let off the gas a bit earlier that if I were simply trying to take the feature at max possible speed. A few seconds of coasting in such situations is often not much slower and can give you a small rest and let you concentrate on making a smoother corner or transition. I dont usually find that the effort expended to pedal hard on downhills is an effective use of my limited reserves, again a bit of coasting on downhills can be a few seconds of rest with minimal lost time.
In conjuntion with micro-resting, I try to ID course segments where an extra effort can result in big time gain. For me, this usually means that I hammer any long, smooth & flat sections comparativly harder then average for the course or give extra effort to plane through a short soft segment without getting bogged down.
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Old 10-02-13, 12:47 PM   #7
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I Agree with ljrichar. Improving your fitness is key. I have recently made huge gains in overall fitness and while I am a road racer and have only have one cyclocross race (last weekend), I never felt winded or like I was going to blow up. Looking at my HR data, I was working pretty hard but it did not feel like I was.

All of road races I have done were started from a position of weakness. I was racing against guys who were riding/training more than twice the amount I could. I could hang but it was always mangement, management, management, survival, not attack, attack, attack, win. That is the hard way to race and can be very frustrating. It will take time but as you strengthen and improve overall fitness, you will see how far that goes and you will drop those riders and they will not pass you back. You will be the one with some reserves and they will be suffering to catch you.

GrayJay has some good advice too...make up time and spend energy where it matters. Ease up a little and don't push where the benefits are slim.
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Old 10-02-13, 01:19 PM   #8
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I see technical sections as relative rest areas, eg. four back to back 180 hairpin turns, right-left-right-left, then into a sandipt . . . you can't really hammer there. I'm a big power rider, so click it to a big gear and hammer on the straights, passing the little hill climber dudes, who are obviously taking a break.
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Old 10-05-13, 10:13 AM   #9
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I guess my follow up question is, is it possible to come out too aggressive/too hard in the first lap?
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Old 10-07-13, 02:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by longe View Post
I guess my follow up question is, is it possible to come out too aggressive/too hard in the first lap?
Exactly that question is pondered throughout video #5 of this excellent series detailing the awsomeness of Sven Nys;
http://vimeo.com/album/2200561

Short synopsis, in 2012-2013 pro season Lars Van Der Haar often got the holshot on the start but seldom placed in top 10 at finish. Nys tends to have a somewhat relaxed start, seems content to be around 10th place at the start, patiently waits for the race to develop while he gradually moves up and then makes his winning move during last 1/3 of the race.

The entire video series is well worth watching, lots of great tutorials.

My opionion is that it is possible to loose a race the first lap but impossible to win it then. You dont want to start so hard that you blow up and have your speed suffer for rest of the race. A relativly fast start can help get you through first-lap bottleneck obsticles that cause lengthy delays further back in the pack and can get you in a good position for drafting on fast sections. If you try to stay with guys that are significantly faster than you are capable of sustaining for too long while going through the slower (soft and uphills) sections, you risk blowing up and drifting further back than if you had just paced yourself all along.
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Old 10-07-13, 07:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrayJay View Post
Exactly that question is pondered throughout video #5 of this excellent series detailing the awsomeness of Sven Nys;
http://vimeo.com/album/2200561

Short synopsis, in 2012-2013 pro season Lars Van Der Haar often got the holshot on the start but seldom placed in top 10 at finish. Nys tends to have a somewhat relaxed start, seems content to be around 10th place at the start, patiently waits for the race to develop while he gradually moves up and then makes his winning move during last 1/3 of the race.

The entire video series is well worth watching, lots of great tutorials.

My opionion is that it is possible to loose a race the first lap but impossible to win it then. You dont want to start so hard that you blow up and have your speed suffer for rest of the race. A relativly fast start can help get you through first-lap bottleneck obsticles that cause lengthy delays further back in the pack and can get you in a good position for drafting on fast sections. If you try to stay with guys that are significantly faster than you are capable of sustaining for too long while going through the slower (soft and uphills) sections, you risk blowing up and drifting further back than if you had just paced yourself all along.
Awesome, thanks.

I'm waiting for the day I can lurk these front groups. Starting in back is kind of a bummer, but its alright because need to learn how to stay rubber side down on these courses first, ya know. Finally did that on my 5th race this past weekend.

Another concept I'm not understanding yet is making an attack in a cross race. Attacks are really clear on the road, but I haven't really experienced an attack on a cross course, except the few conscious extra efforts I've made when riders ahead of me go down.

Not sure if anyone has this happen, but I'm doing well on the technical parts, making passes there, but then getting passed big time on the straight aways because I'm gassed from whatever I was just doing. Sometimes I can hold on to someone's wheel and draft, but otherwise, I just would love to not feel like I'm going backwards.

Another thing is, I'm racing age 27 and I feel like a geezer against these 18-24 year olds tearin up the courses. Coming off my first road season, I thought I was getting a lot stronger toward the end of the season, being in high in contention. Now I'm getting whooped all over again haha.
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Old 10-07-13, 10:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerOne View Post
There is no rest in cross racing, I've tried it, it doesn't work. However, I have read where some of the pro's mark out specific sections of the course where they plan to take a bit of a breather. That means they likely slow down to my fastest pace.
Quote:
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I guess my follow up question is, is it possible to come out too aggressive/too hard in the first lap?
There is no 'rest' in cross racing, but there are more efficient places to use the energy you have. For instance, you can make the biggest gains at the places on the course where you're going the slowest. If you have a long climb, then you have to go really deep while climbing even though it will mean you're going to have to try and recover during the rest of the lap. If you have several slow corners, then you have to make damned sure you're accelerating out of them as quickly as possible.

It's much less important to sprint through a paved section. Once you're up to speed, it really doesn't matter if you're going 22 or 23 mph (a 4.5% speed difference). It's much more important to pick up a mph in something like a 7 mph hairpin. The difference between 7 and 8 mph is 14%! There's a hell of a lot more gains to be had there.

A lot of speed from good CX'ers comes from technique. Watch the pros on run-ups and over barriers. They're just so damned smooth. It's really impressive. They're going faster and using less energy. It's almost not fair.

As far as going out too hard, CX is both like a mass start race and a time trial. If you can make the selection at the front which takes place over the first lap, then you'll often get a small reprieve on the next lap. If you don't make the initial selection, then you have to approach the race as a time trial. The first three rules of time trialing is 1. Don't go out too hard. 2. Don't go out too hard. 3. Don't go out too hard. Having said that, go like hell for as long as you can without blowing up, because you don't want to get stuck behind people who will just be slowing you down. It's a bit of a tightrope.
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Old 10-07-13, 11:27 PM   #13
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Good points Fat Boy.
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Old 10-11-13, 02:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billh View Post
I see technical sections as relative rest areas, eg. four back to back 180 hairpin turns, right-left-right-left, then into a sandipt . . . you can't really hammer there. I'm a big power rider, so click it to a big gear and hammer on the straights, passing the little hill climber dudes, who are obviously taking a break.
Yup. The only rest you should get in a cross race is when you have to stop pedaling for technical areas.
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Old 10-12-13, 02:24 PM   #15
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Of course, whether technical areas are a place to rest depends on where your strengths and weaknesses lie. I'm strongest in technical sections, excluding cross-specific skills requiring transitions, and weakest in terms of raw power. So corners represent an opportunity to reduce a deficit or increase an advantage. You can bet your ass I'm pedaling as much as I can through corners or downhill sections where a lot of my competitors are coasting. It's an advantage of my handling skill and small size that I can still put power down on course sections where a lot of other riders can't, so I don't do a lot of resting in those sections. On the other hand, if I turn myself inside out on a straight section, I still won't be going as fast as the guys with bigger engines. It's still important to make an effort there, because you can only close down so big of a gap in the corners, but it might be good to avoid going into the red on those sections. As already mentioned, it's tough to really rest in a cross race, and the opportunities for recovery are going to come at different points depending on your strengths and weaknesses.
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Old 10-23-13, 12:35 PM   #16
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There have been allot of good points made in this thread. I share the opinion of everyone else- cross racing is all about being on the gas the entire time and who ever has the best overall fitness will win. You are 'racing' after all. I find that I am able to relax on the descents, but those are few and far between.
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