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.
stress of cross. Slower pedaling intervals and some time in the gym during this rebuilding period will give you the power necessary to survive a cross race at the front and help to prevent over-training.
At a basic level, cyclocross is like any other endurance racing, the higher your aerobic capacity, the faster you will go. The starts are 100% full-on sprints to the single track, so lactate tolerance and anaerobic system development is critical. In addition, like any good time trial, you must develop the ability to recover while at or near your threshold.
Sample Cross training during the season
1hr Recovery ride or rest with lots of post-ride stretching, especially hamstrings, groin and lower back.
AM Run 20-30 minutes.
PM 1.5 hr road ride w/ short hard intervals.
Hard cross workout
Barriers and running transition practice with short technical race intervals.
Short race endurance practice 15-40 minutes.
AM Run 20-30 minutes steady medium
PM 2.5 hrs on road easy
1 hr spin very easy
Stretch and hydrate
1.5 hr cross or road ride with 2 x 5 minute medium intervals and 2-3 race intervals of 2-5 minutes each with 5 minute recoveries
Race (including minimum 30 minute warm-up and stretching)
Some pointers if you start to get serious about cross
Practice starts. Typically start in the big ring and large rear cog. This eliminates trying to shift chainrings as you are accelerating. Set up a 50-foot grassy straight with a turn into some single-track and find a friend or two to race for 6 - 8 starts.
Set up a short cross course with whatever barriers you can put together. The regulation height maximum for barriers is 16 inches, although you will find many promoters use shorter ones.
I like to take 1 month off from racing before the first cross race. This helps the brain and body rebuild for what can be a five month (September to February) season for the elite.
Although it is often tempting to continue racing immediately after cross because fitness is so high, I recommend taking a rejuvenating break. This is key in establishing a good yearly cycle.
Transitions on and off the bike
Whether cross is the focus of your year or simply a training tool, to survive a cross race will require being able to mount and dismount from the bike to get over barriers and run up hills.
First practice lifting the bike and find your two grabbing locations. Use 2 fingers under the top tube and find the balance point where both wheels rise evenly from the ground. This will be where you grab the bike for barriers and short runs. Next grab the downtube, usually in about the middle, and practice lifting the bike onto your shoulder for longer runs. Do 2 x 20 reps of "bike ups", lifting the bike from the two basic holds up into the position you will carry it.
Once you have established your grabs, start practicing