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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 09-28-06, 09:36 AM   #1
nycphotography
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training / prep for first cyclocross

Having recently bought my first bicycle in years of not riding, I'm thinking about trying out NJ cyclocross this fall and need a little advice.

First, about the format: I used to race motocross and hare scrambles (Honda CR250) some many years ago, so I'm not terribly afraid of the technical / dirt aspect... my understanding is that there won't likely be many insane downhills with diagonal wet log crossings... that the sport is more about strength, endurance and finesse than raw nerve?? Right?

My bike is a 31lb fully suspended MTB w/ 2.1 knobbies. I expect it's way on the heavy side, but for beginner class it should be more than capable. I stiffened the preload front and back to reduce pedal bob, and the only other change I plan is a set of strap type pedal clips.

Now, for training... I'm training by riding aggressive loops in Brooklyn which cross a bridge and reverse. I have two routes so far, one is 7 R/T miles across the Williamsburg Bridge and back. The other is 12 miles R/T across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. By doing aggressive loops at midnight, I can keep moving (minimal stops for cross traffic) and can fly across the bridges w/ few pedestrians and other bikes. By choosing routes carefully, I can get exceptionally nasty pavement w/ some grade plus the climbs over the bridge.

So... given my bike and my route, what goals should I set for myself before attempting a novice cyclocross? 30 minute loops on the 7 mile and 45 minute loops on the 12 mile? Faster? 2 x the 7 mile?

What would everyone suggest?
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Old 09-28-06, 01:20 PM   #2
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it's cool and all that you want to get into cross...

but....

i'd recommend doing some reading/searching to get more info.

not to be a jerk, but even in the beginner class you will get completely schooled with that bike and your current training regimen. i think the best thing you can do is to just go race and see exactly what u are up against. i reckon that after that experience you will have a much clearer idea of how you need to prepare.

lots of ppl who race (cx, road, mtb) train all year and put in lots of time/miles on the bike. of course you can go out and race having not trained, but be prepared for a rude awakening.
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Old 09-28-06, 03:13 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by xccx
not to be a jerk, but even in the beginner class you will get completely schooled with that bike and your current training regimen.
Might that be why I asked to be schooled here first?

So what training would you SUGGEST before the first time out? (I accept that the bike is a handicap but without proper training on my part a better bike won't make a difference.)
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Old 09-28-06, 03:55 PM   #4
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I'm not much of a cross racer (my focus is XC racing) so don't put to much faith in what I have to say. This will be the first year I've actually trained for cross, usually I just let myself get out of shape after XC season then get killed at cross, competing just for fun. This year I want to do ok, so here's what I'm doing:

1) Short training rides, with lots of intervals. 1 hour or less. I usually train 3 hours at a time for XC.
2) Running, damn it sucks, but I'm trying to suffer through it and go for one 7km run each week
3) cross exercies, running up stairs with the bike, finding mock barriers to jump over, etc.

If it's your first time out, just focus on having fun! Oh, and practice dismounts and remounts a lot before your first race. I think I've finally gotten OK at them after 2 seasons of cross racing.
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Old 09-28-06, 04:00 PM   #5
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Assuming you have good NTB bike handling skills then the only thing you can do at this point that will be helpful is practice your dismounts, remounts, carries and run ups. I'm from Portand and we have clinics here to teach beginners those skills. The transitions are the things that make the most difference in a race. You have to be able to approach the barriers at speed, slow down at the last second, dismount the bike running and get back on without loosing time. If you found someone in your area who could demo the proper technique for you and give you feed back that would give you your best chance.
Carrying your bike on your shoulder sounds easy but again there are skills involved that you need to learn.

As far as conditioning goes, it is a little late to look at improving your aerobic capacity but you should consider running a few times a week, continue your riding and practice your transition and carry skills constantly. I will often dismount and re-mount when I come to stop signs, just to keep it fresh.

You don't want to use toe clips w/ straps, use clipless pedals otherwise you will have problems.

I ride on a 1 mile loop where I get a chance to practice all the skills for 45 min, when my alarm rings I do the last lap as fast as I can and try to sprint at the end.

One more thing, cross courses often have off camber turns that are a ***** when muddy so practice that too.

Hope this helped. Sorry I don't have any contacts for you in NYC. Good luck, have fun and don't take it seriously if you fall everyone does including the pros.

Last edited by 42x16; 09-28-06 at 04:08 PM.
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