Cyclocross Training and Racing: Page 3 of 4

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.

mounts and dismounts at walking speed. First ride around on some grass and practice swinging your right leg over the bike and coasting as that leg dangles straight down behind your left leg. Keep your hands on the hoods and practice cornering and coasting as long as you can like this.

Once you feel comfortable riding and coasting like this, then step the right leg between the bike frame and your left leg still on the pedal, and begin to walk. (Hint: click out of your pedal with the left shoe before you start and just stand on the pedal to avoid staying clipped in once you dismount.) Practice stepping the right foot through for fast and flat dismounts, typically into barriers, and simply step back off the bike for slower (the cowboy dismount) typically uphill. Practice both ways very slowly until you feel comfortable, each time just throwing the right leg back over the saddle and remounting at walking speed.

In practicing the remount, start at walking pace and keep it very slow until you eliminate repeated hopping on the launching foot onto the saddle. Work toward one smooth lunge onto the right pedal and instantly begin to pedal. Keep your eyes looking forward; use your peripheral vision to help your feet find the pedals. Just keep pedaling, your feet will find the pedals. If you need to take a quick glance down at the pedals before you remount, do it. Just like the dismount, once you feel comfortable (or at least not totally spastic) then add a little speed, and eventually a flat barrier, then a full 15-inch high barrier to practice regularly.

Running for cross

Running is essential for racing cross at a high level. You can't avoid it in a race, and although you might hear of guys who don't train their running, on courses with longer runs or very muddy conditions, they will suffer. Although most racers can sprint up a cross run-up, an untrained runner will not recover as quickly or be able to stay with good runners on the longer runs.

Running is best approached in a similar way to your cycle training. Start easy and build up a base of moderate running time, typically three times per week for 20 minutes for a couple weeks, then add some longer threshold intervals and then peak your running with short, sharp hill accelerations during a moderate 30-minute run.

Running Program

10-50-minute runs beginning with walking the downhills and flat portions* and working toward steady threshold intervals with recoveries 3x/week.
20-30-minute runs starting with 3 x 3-minute intervals at race pace 2x/week.
20-30 minute runs with short explosive uphill running bursts of 5 - 30 seconds 1x/week.

*Running uphill is very similar to the pedal stroke and is the ideal transition because it is easy on cycling-trained muscles and decreases your risk of injury.

Quick Cross Tips

. Steer the bike underneath you, do not lean body into corners.
. Lift butt at least slightly off seat through corners.


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