Get Faster at ‘Cross Now

Cyclocross season is here, and I can’t tell you how excited I am. Fall is my favorite time of year..both on and off the bike. For me, cyclocross is more about having fun than having a great result. But there are a few things that I incorporate in my training the will make you a better ‘cross racer. And, while important, it’s more than just putting in mile/time on the road bike with some intervals mixed in. There are some ‘cross specific activities that you can and should incorporate into your training.

3 things that will make you a better ‘cross racer

  1. Practice your starts. Starts are important..very important. If you have a bad start, most of the field will be ahead of you within seconds. You can do this on a dirt road or a field. Start with one foot clipped in and one foot on the ground. It doesn’t matter which foot..whatever is comfortable. Look down the road (or field) and burst off the line as hard and fast as you can (without being reckless). Practice getting your unclipped foot clipped in and sprint. Sprint for about 20-30 seconds with a full recovery (4 to 5 minutes) between efforts. Remember that you are not only sprinting, but you are clipping in and looking where you are going.  Do 5 or 6 efforts.
  2. Run. I know, but I don’t like running either..at least I didn’t. However, the more I run, the more I actually enjoy it. Most of cyclocross is on the bike, but as you know, there are times that you can’t be on the bike. That’s when you are running..whether it be the barriers, a run-up, sand or too much mud. Get your body used to running. Don’t worry, you aren’t going to be training for a marathon, but you are training to run, nonetheless. Mid to late August, find yourself a nice quiet place and ease into your running. Just an easy jog for 15 to 20 minutes. As you get use to running you can increase you speed. Just don’t try to do too much too soon. After a few weeks, you should incorporate cyclocross specific terrain running. Find a “terrain appropriate” hill and simulate a run-up..with you bike in tow. You should run one day a week throughout the season as part of your training. Again, the run should be for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Race simulation. Find somewhere that you can simulate a race course. It doesn’t have to be a long course, but somewhere that has a variety of cyclocross terrain. Practice your cornering. Practice your dismounts and remounts. Practice riding in sand (if available). Practice shouldering your bike and running. And practice putting in hard efforts..race pace efforts. Yes, I mean intervals. Start just like the start of a race..one foot on the ground, sprint for 30 seconds and then ride a hard effort for about 3 minutes. Each “lap” should include all the other skills that you are practicing. Then do it again..and again..and again…

There is one other very important part of cyclocross training and racing that I didn’t mention…Rest!  When ‘cross season is in full swing, you will be racing just about every weekend, and in some cases both days of the weekend, and in some cases two races in a day. You need rest. Once racing gets busy, you should easy back on you training and make recovery a priority. To use a cliche, listen to your body.

And remember to have fun!

‘Cross Season Is Here!

Cyclocross is no longer right around the corner. Cyclocross season is here. I opened my cyclocross racing this past weekend with a two race weekend..Saturday August 27 in Cazenovia, NY and Sunday September 28 in Springfield, MA. Early ‘cross racing is great because it gives you a chance to shake out the cobwebs, stretch your cyclocross legs and see just where you’re at before your series races and bigger races start.

I never go into a cyclocross race with any expectations but to have fun. Of course I have goals (stay on the lead lap!?!), but always have fun. This weekend was fun.

Sunday’s race in Cazenovia was a new race at a new venue..RedBarn20. The course had a little bet of everything. Fast sprints, a little climbing, some singletrack trail, run-up, steps, etc. A little bit of everything you might see on a cx course. While I didn’t finish on the lead lap, I did feel pretty good for my opening race of the cx season, and managed to finish 9th.

Sunday brought me to Blunt Park in Springfield, MA. A late August race that the Cyclonaut Racers has put on for several years. This race is a little special for me, Blunt Park was the first cyclocross race that I every did..back in 2009. And now I race more cyclocross than anything else. The Blunt Park race is a very fast race, partly due to the course and partly due to the fast New England Masters that are there every year. This course always has naturally sandy spots, singletrack trail, tight turns, natural barriers and a triple man made barrier. With a pretty big 45+ Masters field, I just wanted to ride as hard as I could and hold on to the lead lap. Four of us did have a pretty good “race withing the race” fighting for position for 4 of the 5 laps. I did finish on the lead lap, and I ended up 27th, losing the sprint at the finish by about 1/4 of a wheel.

Overall, it was a great start to what will be a very full cyclocross season for me.

Cyclocross Season Is Almost Here

It’s that time of year again…Cyclocross season is right around the corner. It’s time to get on your cyclocross bike and practice. Practice your dismounts and remounts…practice your barriers…practice your run-ups…and practice shouldering your bike. For me, the hardest part of cyclocross is my remounts after the barriers and run-ups. So, most of my training/practice consists of dismounts and remounts. Yes, I have many failed attempts while practicing. But when it all goes the way it should, you know it and it feels good.

Here is a short video that I found that shows you the basics. You will hear the instructor say, “you need commitment to do this”. And he is right, hesitate and you will fumble…we’ve all been there.

Body Glide Anti-Chafing Balm

Body Glide is the easiest and cleanest anti-chafing that I have ever used. It’s used just like you use a deodorant stick, and it is intended as a barrier to the effects of rubbing. Its formulation makes it easy to apply for all-day protection from skin on skin rubbing, chafing from clothing, or pinching and friction from shoes, protective gear, and other irritants. And there’s no sticky gunk on your hands.

Body GlideBODY GLIDE Anti-Chafe balm is the recognized leader for comfort. It helps prevent and relieve hot spots on feet, and chafed, chapped and cracked skin from head to toe; good during & after activity.

It penetrates the skin and creates an invisible, comfortable barrier against friction and moisture – without clogging pores or trapping perspiration; feels “dry” to the touch.

Protect against hot spots on feet and rubbing that causes saddle sores, chafed, chapped, and cracked skin, irritation from bras, even irritation from skin rubbing skin; used with footwear, orthotics, clothing, sports and swimwear, braces, gear, prosthesis, compression wear, wetsuits.

BODY GLIDE For Her

For Her is for sensitive areas where skin rubs skin, where bras cause chafing, where clothing irritates and chafes the underside of the arms, where thighs are irritated by apparel, and for feet where rubbing causes hot spots, chafing or blisters.

Body Glide for Her

  • Dry non-greasy skin protectant
  • No petroleum, oils or lanolin
  • Easy to apply
  • Sweat and water resistant
  • Helps prevent and relieve dry chafed skin
  • Ideal for rubbing from sports bras

 

 

 

For the full line of Body Glide products, visit their website at www.bodyglide.com.

Podcast: A Simple Idea to Get More Women Involved in Mountain Biking

I’m not big on taking the time to listed to podcasts, but I found this very interesting and wanted to share it. In this podcast episode, Singletracks.com founder Jeff Barber talks with his Singletracks.com co-founder Leah (his wife), about her mountain biking experiences over the last 15 years and some of the challenges women face in our sport. Plus, Leah shares her simple idea for getting even more women involved in mountain biking in the future.

Listen to the podcast here.