Cyclocross Training and Racing

Training & Health

10/14/2008| 0 comments
by Craig Undem

Cyclocross Training and Racing

Cyclocross, or cross, is beauty in motion, a skill-building workout and good old-fashioned fun. The beauty is how the riders gracefully flow from bike to road, and then effortlessly back on the bike again, making the transitions look much easier than they are.

Cyclocross, or cross, is beauty in motion, a skill-building workout and good old-fashioned fun. The beauty is how the riders gracefully flow from bike to road, and then effortlessly back on the bike again, making the transitions look much easier than they are. Along with the seasonal change comes a few issues with the weather and as a result you gain high-level bike handling skills in all conditions. You will learn more about cornering your bike in one season of cross than three on the road.

If you are a Road cyclist, Track, Tri or MTB racer looking to add a secret weapon to your racing arsenal, cross is perhaps the easiest way to improve your technical skills, keep intensity in your training in the off-season and have a great time in all kinds of weather on your bike.

What is Cyclocross?

Cyclocross races are 30 - 60 minutes on 1-2-mile lap courses on a combination of dirt and pavement and include some running and getting on and off the bike to get over barriers or run up hills. Cyclocross is a great cross-training supplement and easy to fit into your fall/winter schedule because the races are short and held, rain or shine, on nearly every weekend in the Seattle and Portland areas from September til Christmas.

Cyclocross Skill Sets

Cyclocross develops a toolbox of aptitudes: descending, technical transitions, accelerations, running, cornering, time trialing and explosive starts.

If you are a beginning rider, expect cyclocross to develop your power and stamina while working on your cornering and descending skills. You will also get a great cross training workout with the running and lifting of the bike. For intermediate riders, cross will maintain anaerobic conditioning, train upper-body and running muscles and take your time-trialing to the next level. For elite racers, cyclocross is the place to hone high-speed transitions with agility, develop further handling skills and get that short, hard power training that is difficult to maintain in the off-season.

Here is a story from one rider. "I was in a criterium after my 2nd year of racing cross and there was a crash on a fast downhill section and it was right in front of me. I found myself compressing, then springing over the crashed rider! Because I had tried bunny-hopping in cross it was purely instinct and saved my race." As in any training, you develop those skills and abilities which you demand of yourself and nearly all of the tools you will develop in cross will help you next season.

Training for Cyclocross

If you decide that cross is something you want to give a whirl, you can either just jump in and use it as your once-a-week anaerobic skills session in the off season, or if you have tried cross as a beginner, you might want to get a bit more focused.

Take a mini-break of 1 week to 10 days and then rebuild some strength and endurance base prior to the first races. You will need this recovery because of the large power demands and high anaerobic system

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