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How to get started training for first season?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) 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 : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

How to get started training for first season?

Old 07-17-11, 04:45 PM
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How to get started training for first season?

I want to start doing some 'cross this fall, for fun and to get in shape. I was wondering what I should start doing to get ready. I do a commute almost everyday, but it is only a few miles. What types of riding should I start doing, and are there any other types of training I could do, like running, etc.?
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Old 07-17-11, 05:18 PM
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https://www.cxmagazine.com/saddle-ada...ager-organizer

CXM: Do you have any advice for new riders starting their preseason now?

AM: Definitely do not do what I’m doing. For a new rider, you want to spend as much time on your cross bike as possible and as much time in the woods on your ’cross bike as possible. Technique is going to be as important for a new rider as fitness. I suggest starting in August doing midweek ’cross workouts with a group. A good schedule would be to do skills practice by yourself on Tuesday, Wednesday would be a great day to do a group ’cross workout, essentially a training race, Thursday you could do a longer low intensity ride, a mountain bike ride on a cyclocross bike. Rest on Friday, then repeat some of those workouts on the weekend or race local road events on the weekend.
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Old 07-18-11, 08:06 AM
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Definitely look for a local skills clinic. I can't overstate how useful those are.

As for fitness, the first thing to work on (and at this point probably the only thing you have time for) is establishing an aerobic base. Figure out how hard you can ride while still being able to maintain the pace for around an hour, then do that three times a week with an easy day in between.
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Old 07-18-11, 10:03 AM
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find a uninhabited park in your local area. perferably one with hills and tall stairs. make a little track for yourself, then go as hard as you can until your ears bleed and you puke bile. Also look for good videos mount/dismount. Smooth mounting was the hardest thing for me to learn. I say uninhabited because to really get the handling down you need to be going fast, and fast is dangerous in public parks, last thing you want to see when you round the corner is grandma out for a nature walk with her pack of ****zus or whatever.

basically you need to get to where you can sustain a 45 minute uphill sprint. focus on the finesse skills later.
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Old 07-18-11, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Cx_Skidmark
...then go as hard as you can until your ears bleed and you puke bile.
Sounds like an excellent simulation of race conditions, but you should to specify "keep going at that pace for 30 more minutes after puking." I recommend slowing down a bit when the bile turns to lung.

Seriously though, definitely put in some time riding on grass. It's a lot different than pavement or even dirt. Tire pressure is key here.
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Old 07-18-11, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Oil_LOL
I want to start doing some 'cross this fall, for fun and to get in shape. I was wondering what I should start doing to get ready. I do a commute almost everyday, but it is only a few miles. What types of riding should I start doing, and are there any other types of training I could do, like running, etc.?
Carry your bike home once in a while.
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Old 07-18-11, 03:38 PM
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I raced last season for the first time. Being mostly out of shape, I concentrated on fitness more than CX specific technique.
The rationale I used is that in a 40 minute Cat 4 race; I would only be dealing with barriers etc 3 or 4 times per race.
I could gain a lot more by fitness than a few seconds a few times at a few barriers.
My skills did improve as the season went along.
One skill not normally mentioned is to be able to take very tight 180 turns.
Another hint that helped me a lot was always pedal and use front brake as little as possible.
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Old 07-18-11, 04:25 PM
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Simon Burney's books on Cyclocross are including a lot of workout,
weight training and such , as well as
showing the flying dismounts and re mounts techniques
that save you so much time at the barriers.
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Old 07-18-11, 11:46 PM
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I forgot to mention it, but I am planning on going to a cross clinic this August, run by the local college's cross team. A question about equipment: the bike I am planning on racing is a mid 90s Specialized Rockhopper Comp (full Deore LX group), with the bar-ends removed. for a steel bike, it's pretty light (idk how much), but is still a bit heavy to carry, especially in the back. Would it be good to invest in a lighter wheelset (https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...7#ReviewHeader seems nice enough), to get my weight down, just to make shouldering better? Are there any simple things I could do to improve my bike?
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Old 07-19-11, 03:03 AM
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do they make you get off? or are you allowed to bunnyhop everything or just somethings.
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Old 07-19-11, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Oil_LOL
I forgot to mention it, but I am planning on going to a cross clinic this August, run by the local college's cross team. A question about equipment: the bike I am planning on racing is a mid 90s Specialized Rockhopper Comp (full Deore LX group), with the bar-ends removed. for a steel bike, it's pretty light (idk how much), but is still a bit heavy to carry, especially in the back. Would it be good to invest in a lighter wheelset (https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...7#ReviewHeader seems nice enough), to get my weight down, just to make shouldering better? Are there any simple things I could do to improve my bike?
I've seen guys do just fine at beginner level with everything from full on suspension mountain bikes, to BMXrs. I would, If i were you, I would hold off, race a season with your rockhopper, and if you like the race, have alot of fun, just invest in a bonafied cross bike. instead of buying a wheelset, or investing anything into the rockhopper. kinda like polishing turd with dollars...
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Old 07-19-11, 03:31 PM
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I agree. I've heard good things about that wheelset and you can't beat the price, so go ahead and buy it if you want a nice wheelset, but don't buy it to help you in CX. It's probably not going to save you more than half a pound.

It's tempting to try to lighten an old MTB like that, but the thing with bike weight is that it's mostly incremental. You end up having to change everything to save a lot of weight. Now, contradicting my own advice, if you want to save some weight, consider the handlebar. I don't know about your mid 90's Rockhopper, but the handlebar on my '89 Rockhopper was a serious piece of gaspipe. A $30 Ritchey comp aluminum bar dropped nearly a pound. Of course, an $80 set of wheels and a $30 handlebar get you into the "polishing a turd" realm pretty quickly on a $100 bike. The tires are probably pretty heavy too...and the saddle. Don't even get me started on the crank and bottom bracket. (Don't mind me, I'm a recovering weight weenie.)
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Old 07-19-11, 07:16 PM
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I am in the same boat as the OP but I have a cross bike. I've seen some recommendations for being able to hold a race pace for 45-60 minutes. In the series I will be riding (Chicago Cross Cup), my class is only 30 minutes (4b). Any changes for holding that race pace time?
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Old 07-20-11, 12:49 AM
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ride long hard rides at just a little below what you can handle, like two or three hours if not more. also do interval training. also run if you want because it's more aerobic and that's super helpful in cross.
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Old 07-20-11, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by midschool22
I am in the same boat as the OP but I have a cross bike. I've seen some recommendations for being able to hold a race pace for 45-60 minutes. In the series I will be riding (Chicago Cross Cup), my class is only 30 minutes (4b). Any changes for holding that race pace time?

in short, no.
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Old 07-24-11, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Oil_LOL
I forgot to mention it, but I am planning on going to a cross clinic this August, run by the local college's cross team. A question about equipment: the bike I am planning on racing is a mid 90s Specialized Rockhopper Comp (full Deore LX group), with the bar-ends removed. for a steel bike, it's pretty light (idk how much), but is still a bit heavy to carry, especially in the back. Would it be good to invest in a lighter wheelset (https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...7#ReviewHeader seems nice enough), to get my weight down, just to make shouldering better? Are there any simple things I could do to improve my bike?
Work on fitness and basic skills. Find a clinic and try to get some off-road riding in at low pressures.. preferably with a lot of grass, tight turns, and off-camber work. Don't worry about upgrading a mtn bike. Even if you could make it 10lbs lighter, it's still going to hold you back for a lot of reasons. Save that money for a basic CX rig down the road when you've decided that CX is something you enjoy enough to more fully commit to.


Originally Posted by Nick Bain
do they make you get off? or are you allowed to bunnyhop everything or just somethings.
In cross in general? Nothing on the course 'requires' dismounting.. in theory an incredibly skilled rider could ride everything. There comes a point though where it is faster, however, to shoulder the bike and run. Jumping the barriers, e.g., is also a pretty high risk / low reward move. You are trying to get over a 40cm tall plank (no sloping edge), at speed, then getting over another one that may be as close as 13ft. later. Both are pretty heavily staked with rebar usually, so if you hit one then you will give way, not the barrier. Compared with running at a similar speed and being fatigued is why you see most top pros still running them.

Originally Posted by midschool22
I am in the same boat as the OP but I have a cross bike. I've seen some recommendations for being able to hold a race pace for 45-60 minutes. In the series I will be riding (Chicago Cross Cup), my class is only 30 minutes (4b). Any changes for holding that race pace time?
Workouts to do? If you want to simulate the demands of CX, trying riding at threshold with occasional pops over your limit. e.g., 45s threshold / 15s over. Build from 2x5 to 3x5 to 2x10 to 3x10 etc. Ideally find an offroad course you can do it on where you can do the sprinting out of the corners, and also gradually improve on your time.
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