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How Hard Should I Sprint At The Start

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How Hard Should I Sprint At The Start

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Old 11-14-18, 08:06 AM
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Hmmm
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How Hard Should I Sprint At The Start

Title says it all. I am participating in my first cyclocross race this Sunday and have no idea how hard to go in the sprint at the start of the race. Are we talking as hard as I can, get a good position and try desperately to recover for the first 20 minutes of the race? I don't train to power and go on feel. I'll have time to get a ride in before Sunday to practice dismounts and sprints.

Any other tips for a someone new? I've been to two clinics as well as ridden an actual course on race day and the day after when the tape was all taken down. Can't wait for Sunday.
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Old 11-14-18, 11:58 AM
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depends where you are staged, but since its your first race and likely in the beginner cat you'll be towards the back anyways so sprint hard enough to make easy passes and to get a good position going into the first turn. If you have lots of fitness and are just new to cyclocross racing then you can probably go harder. There is no recovery time in cyclocross race so don't go so hard you blow up, just redline the HR and then try to hold it right below there
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Old 11-14-18, 05:32 PM
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As hard as room allows. Picking up places in the beginning is WAY easier than picking them up after the start. Your heart rate probably wont even move very much before you get to the first turn, where everything slows down. Regardless....if you have the ability to go faster, and space to do it at the beginning, do it. Slow down after if you have to, but get the passes while you can.

Have fun, it's a blast. But HARD.
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Old 11-14-18, 05:34 PM
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Um, i'd say for your first race to hold it a fair bit below redline. Sure, sprint some and pass some but i'd say more generally just try to get a feel for the craziness you've got yourself into. It's easy to go too hard and get delirious and bust thru the tape ... on every turn. So don't do that. Wait til you have some skills before you go drool-hard!

That said: here's my sweet instant awesome tip: warm the heck up before your start! Be hot and sweaty and basically like you're halfway thru some other race. If it's your first CX i'm guessing you're in beginner and it's only a half hour. well, 40 isn't THAT much longer, but it kind of is. Anyway, if it's 30 mins, be RARIN' ready. Then just ride. you'll have a good start w/o needing to bust a gut. You want smoothness and sanity as well. Also get in some recon laps of the course beforehand! These can be separate from your white-hot sweat-up. Good luck and have fun! Let us know!
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Old 11-15-18, 08:08 AM
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Thanks guys. This is very much an exploratory first race. I am totally ok with getting dead last and using it to get excited and motivated for other races and future seasons. - Also get familiar with the CX scene here in Paris as someone that isn't fully fluent in French... I appreciate the answers on the sprint. I have a tendency to go too hard and blow up so I'll try to keep it reasonable and have fun. I'll report back.
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Old 11-15-18, 10:40 AM
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Try to pass as many people as you can at the start of the race. Your heartrate will most likely be maxed out the whole race. When you get to spots like pavement or straight-aways instead of resting try to push a little harder as some people will ease up during those points and you can pass them. Don't burn matches if you don't need to. Try to lay off the brakes as much as possible. Pre-ride the course and look for the best lines to take.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 11-15-18, 03:59 PM
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Typical mistakes:

- Going to hard at the beginning, blowing up, and then dragging yourself around the track for the next 20 minutes.

- Getting caught up with the crazies at the beginning.

I find in a beginner race a few people just ride like dicks and rather unsafe in the first ½ lap. So be aware and be careful.

I like to pace myself – preferably finding someone near my strength level (but with more experience) and pacing myself with them.

Look for places to relax and catch your breath (a little). Maybe a short downhill, where traffic is bunched up, or a section where you are really not going to gain much by pushing it.

In a beginner race, a lot of people will fall behind once the adrenalin wears off. Go strong off the line, but back off and find your rhythm quickly. Don’t use your maximum effort unless you really need to. Realistically you can only go full throttle (over your threshold heart rate) a handful of times in a race, so make it count. Save something for the last lap.

Remember to have fun.
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Old 11-16-18, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Typical mistakes:

- Going to hard at the beginning, blowing up, and then dragging yourself around the track for the next 20 minutes.

- Getting caught up with the crazies at the beginning.

I find in a beginner race a few people just ride like dicks and rather unsafe in the first ½ lap. So be aware and be careful.

I like to pace myself – preferably finding someone near my strength level (but with more experience) and pacing myself with them.

Look for places to relax and catch your breath (a little). Maybe a short downhill, where traffic is bunched up, or a section where you are really not going to gain much by pushing it.

In a beginner race, a lot of people will fall behind once the adrenalin wears off. Go strong off the line, but back off and find your rhythm quickly. Don’t use your maximum effort unless you really need to. Realistically you can only go full throttle (over your threshold heart rate) a handful of times in a race, so make it count. Save something for the last lap.

Remember to have fun.
Yea I second this. One of the things that helped me was learning to pace myself. I still go full gas at the beginning (I'm not getting staged anywhere near the first couple lines...so the inevitable backup in the first few tight turns lets me catch my breath), but learning to go hard, but not go deep into the red just to pass 1 or 2 people mid race was very helpful. Pass when you're faster than someone...don't burn a match just to get in front of someone and then drop the pace.
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Old 11-21-18, 07:16 AM
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Ok, so the race was great. Despite my semi functional french I was able to register and pre ride the course.

The start was rough. I started 58th out of 63 and as I raced in road shoes I had a bad time clipping in at the uphill grass start. I was able to catch up with people and pass a few before the barriers and stairs. After the stairs and barriers it was all strung out and I had everyone in front of me except maybe three riders. I passed maybe 3 riders over the course of the race. One even waved me through after I had been resting on his wheel for a quarter of a lap. All in all I kept my place of 58th of 63 and had a great time. Dismounts went well, cornering was ok and I was able to figure out the difficult off camber pretty ok. As I finished I was announced as the american with a day pass, which I thought was funny.

What a fun way to race a bike. I can't get enough. While the shoes were frustrating and I have already bought pedals and ordered MTB shoes for the future, I have my fitness really to blame. I was totally beat. I've been having so much fun on gravel rides since I bought my bike this summer I haven't done any real training. I'll use this race as a motivator to do some more focused training coming into next fall so I can be a little bit more in the mix and not off the back on my own passing old men. hahaha.

Thanks guys for your advice.
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Old 11-23-18, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Hmmm View Post
Ok, so the race was great. Despite my semi functional french I was able to register and pre ride the course.

The start was rough. I started 58th out of 63 and as I raced in road shoes I had a bad time clipping in at the uphill grass start. I was able to catch up with people and pass a few before the barriers and stairs. After the stairs and barriers it was all strung out and I had everyone in front of me except maybe three riders. I passed maybe 3 riders over the course of the race. One even waved me through after I had been resting on his wheel for a quarter of a lap. All in all I kept my place of 58th of 63 and had a great time. Dismounts went well, cornering was ok and I was able to figure out the difficult off camber pretty ok. As I finished I was announced as the american with a day pass, which I thought was funny.

What a fun way to race a bike. I can't get enough. While the shoes were frustrating and I have already bought pedals and ordered MTB shoes for the future, I have my fitness really to blame. I was totally beat. I've been having so much fun on gravel rides since I bought my bike this summer I haven't done any real training. I'll use this race as a motivator to do some more focused training coming into next fall so I can be a little bit more in the mix and not off the back on my own passing old men. hahaha.

Thanks guys for your advice.

Nice work. Yea it's shocking how exhausting CX races are. My legs generally feel pretty good after, ready for another race or two even. But I end up just absolutely gassed...and I have this vague feeling of soreness in my lungs for a couple days after. A hard workout works my legs much more than a CX race...but for whatever reason CX just leaves me gasping for air after a hard lap.
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