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  1. #1
    Senior Member poprad's Avatar
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    Noob training/reading Q's

    I've resolved to try CX this coming year, and am currently building up a nice Surly frame for it with 105 level stuff so I won't cry when I break things. I'm an experienced runner/duathlete, lots of individual cycling but no crits in my background. I want to train to the point where I don't make an ass of myself on my first few races. I know I need to work on the transitions (or whatever they call it in CX) and probably lots more high-effort (anaerobic) running/cycling than endurance. I was hoping there's a good title out there of a book for CX training, geared towards newbys but not total freds (I don't need explanations of how to use clipless pedals).

    If not a book, maybe a good DVD with visual descriptions of what the dismount/mount sequence should look like? Do I need to practice any other technical skills? I'm totally open to any training/reading suggestions as far as what I should concentrate on besides miles and hills.

    Thanks in advance...I'm pretty stoked to get into this sport. I appreciate any experienced riders providing their wisdom.

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    human bigfo's Avatar
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    Some guys I work with live for cross season. After hearing them talk about it all summer I decided I would try a race. Now I am overweight, rode a touring bike with friction bar end shifters and not in the best shape. I absolutely loved it! The race itself kicked my butt but it has left me determined to get into shape and find a bike for this coming fall season. One thing they told me was just go to a park and practice the run ups. I just took some plywood chunks and put them out in a field in the park by my house and rode up, unclipped and hopped over. I just kept practicing that and when I rode in the race, that was the easiset part! I'm sure I was by no means the fastest on or off the bike but I felt like I was able to almost glide over the barracades. And being a tourer, I'm used to the slow and long rides, but this is fast and short so that's something I have to work on as well.

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  4. #4
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    Yup, Simon Burney's book is an absolutely excellent primer on training for cyclocross. He also has a blog.

  5. #5
    Senior Member poprad's Avatar
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    Thanks...I had seen that online and wasn't sure if it was worth the $$. I just ordered it based on your recommendations.

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    Take all of this for what it is worth:

    There is no substitute for riding with good road cyclists. Find a weekly group ride that will push you, but not kill you.

    The other important weekly workout is what Joe Friel calls "muscular endurance". That's time-trial fitness, and cross is essentially an obstacle course time trial. If done correctly, this is really draining both mentally and physically. Skip it every fourth week.

    For technique, don't obsess over it just now, but watch these now and bookmark them for later:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=ONGYDR7STA8
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=11XpjerIhAc

    Do get Burney's book, but just keep in mind that it is aimed at the very serious cross racer. We'd all love to have two identical race bikes and a mechanic at the ready to hand up a minty-fresh bike every lap, but alas.

    Are you just training for cross? You should probably schedule some other races, like road racing or mountain bike or multisport, just to keep you focused. I'm training toward an Xterra triathlon in June, with some other multisport and mtn bike racing between now and then. After the Xterra, I'll take a week or two off before tackling the cross-specific stuff. Do you have Friel's book? If not, get it. He really harps on organizing your calendar, scheduling in rest periods as well as training periods, and I think it's very good stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    Do get Burney's book, but just keep in mind that it is aimed at the very serious cross racer. We'd all love to have two identical race bikes and a mechanic at the ready to hand up a minty-fresh bike every lap, but alas.
    I agree part of the book is certainly not aimed at a guy just starting out. Personally I'm just training to do my first cross race myself this year and have no plans for an identical pit bike or living my life and diet around the training schedule he outlines towards the end. But the first three quarters of the book contain a wealth of information for anyone looking to do their first cross race.

  8. #8
    Senior Member poprad's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info guys

  9. #9
    Senior Member sfcrossrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    Take all of this for what it is worth:

    There is no substitute for riding with good road cyclists. Find a weekly group ride that will push you, but not kill you.

    The other important weekly workout is what Joe Friel calls "muscular endurance". That's time-trial fitness, and cross is essentially an obstacle course time trial. If done correctly, this is really draining both mentally and physically. Skip it every fourth week.

    For technique, don't obsess over it just now, but watch these now and bookmark them for later:
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=ONGYDR7STA8
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=11XpjerIhAc

    Do get Burney's book, but just keep in mind that it is aimed at the very serious cross racer. We'd all love to have two identical race bikes and a mechanic at the ready to hand up a minty-fresh bike every lap, but alas.

    Are you just training for cross? You should probably schedule some other races, like road racing or mountain bike or multisport, just to keep you focused. I'm training toward an Xterra triathlon in June, with some other multisport and mtn bike racing between now and then. After the Xterra, I'll take a week or two off before tackling the cross-specific stuff. Do you have Friel's book? If not, get it. He really harps on organizing your calendar, scheduling in rest periods as well as training periods, and I think it's very good stuff.

    I think this response more than sums up what you need for your first season. Good luck, and train hard.
    Quote Originally Posted by BikeIndustryGuy View Post
    I guess the feel good aspect of this story is that the perpetrators did this as a couple. It's nice to see people coming together with a common love of cycling and assault.

  10. #10
    Senior Member poprad's Avatar
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    Thanks...I'm planning to. I just turned 39 and want to get into my best shape before the big 40. I'm planning a 15k run this spring, maybe a 1/2 marathon in the fall, and doing some of the cross series here. Should be enough to keep me focused.

    I know I SHOULD find a road group to train with...I've had some prior deflating experiences with roadies in the past (being dropped on a 1st time ride with a group in Phoenix, in the middle of the desert, no warning it was a no-stopping for stragglers ride) so I've not tried that route since. Maybe I can find a good group in Portland that has the right vibe.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by poprad View Post
    Thanks...I had seen that online and wasn't sure if it was worth the $$. I just ordered it based on your recommendations.
    I got it for christmas. Seems to be a very nice book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by poprad View Post
    I know I SHOULD find a road group to train with...I've had some prior deflating experiences with roadies in the past (being dropped on a 1st time ride with a group in Phoenix, in the middle of the desert, no warning it was a no-stopping for stragglers ride) so I've not tried that route since. Maybe I can find a good group in Portland that has the right vibe.
    I think I'm a similar disposition as you, I'd just as soon ride by myself. But I've hooked up with rides out of a local shop that sponsors a team, mostly good vibes and a lot of good riders, they tolerate my Freditude.

    I agree, you need to find the right fit, not too hot, not too cold. I'm sure Portland has a full range of group rides, start with the easy ones and work up.

  13. #13
    Senior Member poprad's Avatar
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    Yeah, the right group can be hard to find if you're neither super Fred nor super-fit.

  14. #14
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poprad View Post
    Thanks...I'm planning to. I just turned 39 and want to get into my best shape before the big 40. I'm planning a 15k run this spring, maybe a 1/2 marathon in the fall, and doing some of the cross series here. Should be enough to keep me focused.

    I know I SHOULD find a road group to train with...I've had some prior deflating experiences with roadies in the past (being dropped on a 1st time ride with a group in Phoenix, in the middle of the desert, no warning it was a no-stopping for stragglers ride) so I've not tried that route since. Maybe I can find a good group in Portland that has the right vibe.
    From what I gather about the Portland scene you ought to find a good group to ride with. Just stress to the people in your group that you do NOT want to get dropped. If they are on a hard training ride that day they should let you know. If you are using the road to train for cross you won't be at the same training level as road racers. I try to do 1 or two road races a month and then typically I will double up on a race or try to hit omniums and stage races. That combined with a regular 8 - 10 hour training schedule puts me in good form for the beginning of cross season.

    You don't need to race road to train for cross but the discipline helps a lot. Come late August and September you will want to find a group of like minded cross racers, build a few barrier fences, find a field, and practice cross. I always do a bit of mountain biking in those early months as well. Nothing flattens out a cross course like riding rock gardens and rooted washed out single track.

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    You should check out Portland Velo (portlandvelo.net). The are a great group of people and have a bunch of different paces on their long Saturday group rides.

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    I went and checked out Mr. Burney's Blog, interestingly he's got a story about someone who just took up cross and the adaptation he had to make from a very high level of fitness. This fellow's problem was that he had a hard time hammering back up to speed out of corners and other slow bits. The constant accelerations of cyclocross are unlike almost every other cardio-sport. More like an hour of BMX intervals.

    That's probably the most common issue for people new to the sport. Humans tend toward efficiency. Unlike most endurance sports competing in cross involves wasting a lot of energy in lots of bursts.

    Anyway, have fun it's a great sport.

    Ron

  17. #17
    Senior Member poprad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronsonic View Post
    I went and checked out Mr. Burney's Blog, interestingly he's got a story about someone who just took up cross and the adaptation he had to make from a very high level of fitness. This fellow's problem was that he had a hard time hammering back up to speed out of corners and other slow bits. The constant accelerations of cyclocross are unlike almost every other cardio-sport. More like an hour of BMX intervals.

    That's probably the most common issue for people new to the sport. Humans tend toward efficiency. Unlike most endurance sports competing in cross involves wasting a lot of energy in lots of bursts.

    Anyway, have fun it's a great sport.

    Ron

    Thanks for this info, good stuff. I am planning to do some track work and pick ups late in the summer to work the Anearobic stuff. Maybe some plyometrics too.
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