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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 08-02-06, 09:58 AM   #1
danimal
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getting ready to race!?

so i entered one cross race last year on a bike that was too big, came in close to dead last, loved it, and bought a cross bike that actually fits a couple months ago...

my question is how do you all prepare for cross racing season? i've been road racing for two years and this summer (in addition to the road/crit racing) have been trying to hit the trails at least once a week on my cross bike. i know i need to work on mounts/dismounts, but what else? what's a typical week of training for cross look like?

thanks

ps-i'm NOT all that fast...i'm just looking to not come in last when the cross series starts in october
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Old 08-02-06, 11:56 AM   #2
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I think I might be ready to compete. Is CAT5 where I should start? How do you determine where to start? How expensive does it get (to compete)?

I appreciate any advice.
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Old 08-02-06, 12:22 PM   #3
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BIGPAKO I would start here http://www.velocommunity.com/sacramentocx/about.htm
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Old 08-02-06, 03:18 PM   #4
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OK, these questions require some very detailed answers, but I will attempt to break it down for you:

1. If you have been racing road and doing crits, you probably have a good level of fitness and base miles under your belt, so now is the time to start working on intensity and cross-specific skills. Cross races are 1 hr max, so your training / workouts this time of year should be shorter than you are used to. They can range anywhere from 30-45 min of intense interval work, to 2.5 hour rides on weekends at level 2 (if you HR train).

I highly recommend using Simon Burney's book as a starting point for your training regimen. I followed his program to a "T" last year and it served me well. One note though...his training is based on the euro racing calendar, and has you peaking way to late for racing in the US. I accounted for this by starting the program about 1 month early....so, I began CX specific training August 1st.

2. Start running. But not much. Only about 20 min / day, 4-5 x / wk. Run hills, stairs, etc. Keep it short and intense.

3. Get your mounts and dismounts down. Practice them slow, and then at speed. Make sure your pedals and cleats are working perfectly (for obvious reasons). If you can, find a local group to practice with. If not, go to a park and play around with dismounting, jumping over obstacles, carrying the bike, etc. Try to get to the point where all your transitions are fluid -- know exactly where you are going to grab your bike when you lift it, and get these motions programmed into your muscle memory. Do this 2x per week minimum, or as often as you feel like it.

4. Experiment with tires and tire pressure. This is an important aspect of racing. Bascally you want to run them as low as possible without pinch-flatting. It can be a delicate balance, so don't wait until race day to figure it out. Ride your bike on grass, packed dirt, singletrak, etc, and see what pressure works best for you.

5. Practice your starts. The starts are critical. If you can hit the line warm and ready to hammer, you will have a big advantage. Practice getting your pedal, sprinting (yes, the start is an all out sprint), and then settling into a rhythm. Do this over and over, and then do it more. Often starts are on pavement and on a slight incline, so if you can simulate this somewhere, all the better. Do this once a week.

6. Do some long easy rides, with hills, on the weekends (when you aren't racing). Not that long though...like 2 - 2.5 hrs max. Make sure you get your rest.

7. Get your hydration and eating figured out. Hydrate b4 and dont eat anything solid 2 hrs b4 a race. Gels are ok, and maybe a bit of an energy bar.

8. The majority of your weekly training will be rides that are about 1.5 hours. 15 min warmup, 1 hour ride at level 2-3, and then 15 min cool down. You can do intervals on thursday and take friday off, so you are training and/or racing for a total of 6 days / week.

If you start now and do these things, you wont come in last. And you'll probably even surprise yourself when you get out there. Have fun and good luck!
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Old 08-02-06, 03:18 PM   #5
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CX racing is pretty much 1 hard interval the entire race. I would suggest doing intervals and practice the mounting and dismounting.
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Old 08-02-06, 04:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynikal
Gracias compadre! I'll check out that site.
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Old 08-02-06, 06:52 PM   #7
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xccx has the form down pat. I would like to add: do not use country rides for training. CX races are always on closed course and usually pretty boring circuits. Train on the same sort of thing - a one mile or so circuit that contains all of the necessary training areas such as jumps, dismounts, running climbs and downhill technical stuff. Do not use the same course over and over but change courses as often as you can find a new one.

I too agree the Simon Burney's book is essential.
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Old 08-03-06, 07:05 AM   #8
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Like XCCX and CYLINTOM, I agree that Simon Burney's Book is a solid book and a must have for anyone new to Cross. The Equipment info is a little outdated (but still sound)... The training info is dead on and has reigmes for people who can devote lots of time to train and has schedules for the working joe as well. It's important to get a little light running or jogging in early, like right about now and will get you used to having to do some running later in the season (when the weather gets bad)

If you don't own a fluid trainer or turbo trainer, think about getting one. Mine has been critical for my pre race warm ups and has allowed me to recon the course and then get a solid warm up right before the start so that I can hammer my butt into a good position. They're also great for snow days or just too dang cold days that tend to force you inside.
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Old 08-03-06, 12:21 PM   #9
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i really appreciate the detailed info....and i just ordered the simon burney book.

i'm looking forward to the intensity of cross races; i like road racing but right about now i'm glad the season's ending.
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Old 08-03-06, 05:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danimal

ps-i'm NOT all that fast...i'm just looking to not come in last when the cross series starts in october
xccx hit upon many key points, so follow that advice. My additional suggestions is work on the little things that are "cross" only in addition to your road riding workouts. Try and work out the kinks in your mount dismounts and portaging.

While working on these things keep inmind that you want to try and learn how to do evrything in a "lively" fashion. If you hang around and watch the A's or the Big Boys race you will see the leaders tackle all of the difficult terrain as if it isn't that hard. While some of it stems from good fitness a lot is a result of experience. You can't get the experienc eovernight, but you can ask the question "how can I do this lively?"

Cross is a constant exasperating battle to maintain momentum. If you know that, and keep seeking the ansew to the lively question, your overall momentum will increase. You don't have have the most road speed to win, so don't get sown on your self for not being fast. Keep your spirits high, have fun, and fight hard to keep your momentum throughout your race.
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Old 08-04-06, 11:16 AM   #11
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jimmymack - as i've been trolling through old posts on mounts/dismounts, portaging, nutrition, etc...i think you've written the only 'zen and the art of cross' post yet; it's refreshing to get a conceptual focus for training.
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Old 08-04-06, 02:05 PM   #12
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Excellent post cxxc. I would add that it is very helpfull to get together with a group of cyclocross racers in your area and to a mock race once a week. You can make fence/barriers out of 2x4's.
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Old 08-04-06, 08:39 PM   #13
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Adam Myerson's site, Cycle Smart, has some good training advice.
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Old 08-10-06, 05:30 PM   #14
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My training regimen will consist of watching "Pure Sweet Hell" over and over during the week. Late the night before a race, i'll remember that i never cleaned the mud off my bike from the previous week's race. After a hurried cleaning i'll discover a few minor tune-ups that i'd made a mental note of the week before to "FIX ASAP!!".

So about 3 AM i'll stumble, zombie-like, into bed and then rise again at 7AM and hurriedly gather my gear and chug some Kool-Aid and scarf a couple of GF donuts. Then it's off to the races-- gotta stop and get entry fee at ATM!!-- then park, gear up, ride to the registration tent and then get over to the starting line just in time for "GO!!!". Spend the next 45 minutes trying NOT to throw up, catch my breath, and get the balky rear derailleur to SHIFT (and make ANOTHER mental not to fix that, once and for all, ASAP!) and, throughout the lactic acid haze, (and the donut/Kool-Aid chunky burps) swear and forever pledge that next race, NEXT race will be different. I'll be ready.

Rinse, repeat.

Here's a cool HOW-TO for building a set of portable practice barriers that i've just discovered. I can't personally vouch for these, but i'm going to build a set this weekend.

http://www.bikeman.com/content/view/93/30/
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Old 08-11-06, 10:34 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by i_r_beej
Here's a cool HOW-TO for building a set of portable practice barriers that i've just discovered. I can't personally vouch for these, but i'm going to build a set this weekend.

http://www.bikeman.com/content/view/93/30/
I built a set much like those. They are great and I have them in my office right now and will be using them at lunch. Depending on how many straight joins you make in the top section you can design them to fint inside a messenger bag.

If you haven't done at least (AT LEAST) 200 runs through barriers before your first race, you are unprepared.
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