Cyclo-Cross - Your Secret Weapon for Winter Training

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12/15/2005| 0 comments
by Jim Lehman

Cyclo-Cross - Your Secret Weapon for Winter Training

Cycling tradition used to dictate that a cyclist spent the winter recovering from the summer road racing season.

tested each time you ride this bike. After a few weeks, you will become more comfortable on the ?cross bike and you will begin to learn how to manipulate your body weight in order to keep the bike stable in dynamic conditions. The goal is for you to become more relaxed on the bike so you have the confidence to move swiftly and smoothly through the bunch in next year?s road races and criteriums.  


More Power in Less Time

The typical gearing on a ?cross bike is 48/38 chain rings with a 12-25 or 12-26 cassette.   While these may appear to be somewhat small gears on the road, you may begin to think differently as you take this bike off the road and up short steep hills. The nature of the terrain and gearing lends itself to strength development and more importantly, cycling-specific strength.   Experts will always debate the benefits of resistance training for cyclists, but they will all agree that the limited daylight hours of the winter months have a significant impact on many cyclists? training program.   It is imperative that these individuals maximize their training time while balancing the other aspects of their lives.   With limited training time, cyclo-cross may be the perfect combination of riding and resistance training.   You are developing strength on the bike while improving your aerobic conditioning, and you can accomplish all of this in just one hour per day.  


Boost Your Winter Training

It is important that you don?t think of winter as the ?off-season?, but rather think of it as a transition period during which you can work on different aspects of your fitness. Cyclo-cross is an excellent way to improve your overall fitness level during the fall and winter.   ?Cross workouts and/or races provide training stimulus for all of your energy systems. The bulk of the time will be spent riding at or near your lactate threshold, but you will spend short burst of time over that intensity, with even shorter blocks of time for recovery.   Since ?cross races are typically between 45-60 minutes, you will not be accumulating large amounts of time at these intensities, and with plenty of time to recover, your short and hard ?cross workouts or races will enhance your overall training and not detract from your primary training focus at this time of year? aerobic conditioning.


If you live in a Northern climate, your summer race season may be short, so ?cross races can be a great way to get additional race starts and satisfy your competitive urges during the transition period.   In addition, if you are new to competitive cycling, cyclo-cross can give you the opportunity to get a few more race starts under your belt. This helps you develop your race routine and improves your handling skills so you will be more comfortable on the start line at the beginning of next year?s road season.    


If you are not interested in racing cyclo-cross, you can set up a training course in

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