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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 10-07-10, 06:12 PM   #1
mtb_man_14
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Any tips for a beginner?

I have a race tomorrow. I have a whopping 2 under my belt. Im a junior by the way. I would like not to be dfl. Ive been told to try and hang with the leaders for as long as possible. I am above average at mountain biking so I have the power and handleing skills. I run xc so I have endurance. Ive been going to cross practice once a week for about 5 weeks now. I can shoulder and run and suitcase it over barriers. Any other tips? And do you ride in the drops? I get more power but my shifter is at the top at the hood (sora) so its difficult but I can do it. Is it worth it?
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Old 10-07-10, 06:52 PM   #2
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Can I assume you've read these?

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ps-for-Newbies

Most of what I know is in there, along with some very helpful tips from other people.

What are you doing to warm-up?
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Old 10-07-10, 06:54 PM   #3
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yeah. I dont really know how to warm up for a cross race
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Old 10-07-10, 08:51 PM   #4
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I'm still working on getting the warm-up right myself, but I can tell you that it makes a huge difference on the first lap. I used to just go out and ride around for about 20 minutes before a race. That's probably better than nothing, but it's not in keeping with recommendations I've read.

This year, I'm using a heart rate monitor and trying to be more systematic. I can describe what I'm doing in terms of rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and you should be able to translate that for yourself without having a heart rate monitor. Here's what I did most recently:

5 minutes at an RPE of about 4 out of 10
5 minutes at 6 out of 10
1 minute at 9 out of 10
2 minutes at 8 out of 10
3 minutes at 6 out of 10
4 minutes at 4 out of 10

I wrapped that up about 10 minutes before my race started. That seemed to work for me.

If you have a stationary trainer, that obviously makes it much easier to attain this kind of structure. If not, try to find an open road a maybe a hill or two near the race.

Last edited by Andy_K; 10-07-10 at 08:56 PM.
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Old 10-07-10, 10:59 PM   #5
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Aside from the warm-up thing, let me suggest this. I often feel like I'm in danger of finishing last, but for the most part I've been able to avoid it. There are two things I do that I think contribute to this.

1. Don't blow-up on the first lap. It's important to go out hard and try to keep pace as long as you can, but if the group is going too fast, you have to know when to start pacing yourself. Doing this has often put me in last place by the end of the first lap, but there are usually a few people who overdid it that come back to me. That may not be the case with the group you're racing against, so really try not to let them get too far away.

2. Pick a nemesis and stay with him. Toward the end of the first lap, regardless of where I am, I look for somebody ahead of me and push myself to catch him. I make a firm resolution that no matter what happens, I'm sticking with him. Don't panic if he gets away from you, because he'll probably push himself less when you aren't on his wheel, but don't just let him go either. More importantly, once I'm keeping pace, I start looking for a place to pass him. I try to figure out a spot on the course that's a relative strength for me and make sure I'm on his wheel before we get to that part of the course. After I pass him, I work on staying ahead of him and start looking for the next guy.

Obviously this isn't a recipe for great success in a race. It's a strategy for not finishing last. Take it for what it's worth.
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Old 10-08-10, 10:32 AM   #6
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Tips

I had my first race last weekend. Here are a few things I learned:

Practice how you race and more importantly race how you practiced. I had not practiced in gloves but decided to wear them at the race. Big blisters caused distractions. (You could also read this tip as make sure you have decent equipment).

I was new to clipless pedals/shoes and I have problems releasing on a dismount, so when there was a short space between dismounts, I would not lock in.

Turns that took place on off-camber areas (i.e. down and back up the side of a hill) were most prone to falls as the area would get slick. I would usually go a bit deeper to hit the non-slick grass or some anchor point to turn back up the hill. Added time, but avoided a fall which for now is a decent trade-off.

Pre-ride the course to determine where your largest gear changes will take place (assuming your not single speed). I didn't try to determine what gear to be in, only that I would be changing up or down signficantly at specific points on the course. This is helpful when you can plan to shift up in advance of a hill. I was able to pass individuals who hadn't preshifted to the appropriate ratio.

I still can't do the superman remount, so I was effective remounting the same way I dismounted, by stepping onto the left pedal (usually in the low position), pushing off with my right and then stepping over in a fairly smooth stroke. May not work for you, but it helped me transition without stops.

It was my first bike race of any type, so I enjoyed it immensely. I'm not nearly in the shape I should be, so I did fall back early, but I always pushed myself by "chasing" (and in most cases passing) people in front of me.

Enjoy!!
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Old 10-08-10, 11:14 AM   #7
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the dismount / remount saves time and momentum, practice that a lot.
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Old 10-08-10, 04:15 PM   #8
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Keep pedaling. I see a lot of people coast or not push themselves in certain sections. People trick themselves into thinking that they can recover or something. There is no recovery. Cross is balls to the wall. Keep pedaling, you can rest when the race is over.
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Old 10-09-10, 08:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I'm still working on getting the warm-up right myself, but I can tell you that it makes a huge difference on the first lap. I used to just go out and ride around for about 20 minutes before a race. That's probably better than nothing, but it's not in keeping with recommendations I've read.

This year, I'm using a heart rate monitor and trying to be more systematic. I can describe what I'm doing in terms of rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and you should be able to translate that for yourself without having a heart rate monitor. Here's what I did most recently:

5 minutes at an RPE of about 4 out of 10
5 minutes at 6 out of 10
1 minute at 9 out of 10
2 minutes at 8 out of 10
3 minutes at 6 out of 10
4 minutes at 4 out of 10

I wrapped that up about 10 minutes before my race started.
That's certainly systematic. Is it recommended by any particular source? What books or articles recommendations impressed you most?
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Old 10-09-10, 08:37 AM   #10
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I can't give any race specific advice (my doctor and the UK's most expert shoe/boot fitter* have banned me from running now) but if you want a quick tech boost:

- Fit your bike with Koolstop Salmon or Swiss Stop Green pads

- Fit a fork mounted canti hanger and hand cut straddle cable (google the Cross forum for advice)

Doing this will give much more power *and* better modulation. And it's very, very cheap.


*In a last attempt to get something that would let me run uphill without braking an ankle I went to the Altbergs factory which I highly recommend for the quality of boots and fitting, and the weird, weird ambiance - this is tiny place is notoriously where British military personnel, especially special forces, go for their footwear. I'd been thinking that a pair of their ultralight firearms teams boots with arch supports might do the trick, but they told me that to even work safely offroad I need a pair of heavy duty "Mallerstangs" - a boot designed for the approaches of Everest. Oh well - at least I've stopped spraining ankles.
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Old 10-09-10, 09:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ljrichar View Post
Keep pedaling. I see a lot of people coast or not push themselves in certain sections. People trick themselves into thinking that they can recover or something. There is no recovery. Cross is balls to the wall. Keep pedaling, you can rest when the race is over.
This. The place where you want to pedal? where you see others coasting.
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Old 10-10-10, 07:02 AM   #12
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I got 3rd in my class. I did better than I expected I would. I got $40 too. AWSOME!!!!!!!
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Old 10-10-10, 04:49 PM   #13
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That's fantastic! Congratulations!

Did you do anything different?
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Old 10-11-10, 10:02 AM   #14
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Quote:
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That's certainly systematic. Is it recommended by any particular source? What books or articles recommendations impressed you most?
The structure is just my latent OCD tendencies coming to surface. The general pattern is based on a mish mash of what I think I remember from various sources, particularly books by Simon Burney, Scott Mares and Joe Friel. Mares, at least, has you ending on the LT stuff just before the race, but I'm old enough and have to stand around long enough in the starting chute that it doesn't seem like a good idea to me, so I cool down a bit in my warm-up.

Like I said, I'm still figuring this stuff out, so my warm-up may be all wrong. Anybody who knows better, please chime in.
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Old 10-11-10, 07:24 PM   #15
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I just kept riding the course for my "warm up" had a little sweat when I pulled up to the line. Started DFL as expected, passed some, battled for second and lost. Caught back up to him on the last lap and looking back I should have just used everything to catch him because I could have. Oh well. Always next time
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