It’s mid-summer and the hash tag #crossiscoming has been prominent in all my social media news feeds. Let’s face it, ‘cross IS coming. And pretty quick too. My traditional season opener is the last weekend in August…CompEdge ‘Cross @ Blunt Park in Springfield, MA. This race has a special meaning for me as it’s the race that introduced me to cyclocross. It was my first cyclocross race…ever.
Last season was a very good season of cyclocross racing for me. Sure, I’m still finishing near the bottom of my masters category, but that’s ok. My skills have improved, my training has improved, and yes, my overall results have improved a little bit too. I ventured out to some of the bigger races. I even competed in the Cyclocross National Championships. The highlight of the season for me was finishing 11th overall in the NYCROSS.com Cyclocross Series in the Masters 45+ category. This was a huge improvement over past years overall finishes in the 20’s.
This year I scrapped mountain bike racing to fully focus on cyclocross. I did, however, race the Wilmington/Whiteface 50K the beginning of June. On July1, I 100% transitioned to cyclocross training. I’ve designed pre-season and in-season training plans for myself, that fit in with my work schedules. In just 3 weeks I can already see myself faster. I’m working hard on sustained efforts…let’s face it, cyclocross is a 45 minute sprint. An equally important improvement that I’ve also made is my diet. Smaller portions with more protein and more greens (salad). In other words, I’m eating healthier and not overeating.
Here is my planned cyclocross race schedule for 2017:
- Aug 27 – CompEdge ‘Cross @ Blunt Park – Springfield, MA
- Sep 3 – BCA Cyclocross – Pittsfield, MA
- Sep 9 – Rochester Cyclocross – Rochester, NY
- Sep 10 – Kirkland CX – Clinton, NY (NYCROSS Series)
- Sep 29 – KMC Cyclocross Festival – Thompson, CT
- Sep 30 – KMC Cyclocross Festival – Thompson, CT
- Oct 7 – Uncle Sam Cyclocross Gran Prix – Troy, NY (NYCROSS Series)
- Oct 8 – Uncle Sam Cyclocross Gran Prix – Troy, NY (NYCROSS Series)
- Oct 14 – Gran Prix of Gloucester – Gloucester, MA
- Oct 15 – Gran Prix of Gloucester – Gloucester, MA
- Oct 22 – Salt City Cyclocross Spectacular – Syracuse, NY
- Oct 23 – Salt City Cyclocross Spectacular – Syracuse, NY
- Oct 28 – Saratoga Spa:CX – Saratoga Springs, NY (NYCROSS Series)
- Oct 29 – Wicked Creepy Cyclocross – Bennington, VT (NYCROSS Series)
- Nov 5 – Cider Cross – NYS CX Championships – Lafayette, NY
- Nov 11 – Northampton International Cyclocross – Northampton, MA
- Nov 12 – Northampton International Cyclocross – Northampton, MA
- Nov 18 – Supercross Cup – Suffern, NY
- Nov 19 – Bethlehem Cup – Delmar, NY (NYCROSS Series)
It is a pretty aggressive schedule, but for me it’s mostly about the love of the sport, race as much as I can, and enjoy it. I don’t take vacations throughout the year like most people do. I save the majority of my time off for September through December…for cyclocross.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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.
The Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder is a non-competitive “gravel Gran Fondo” of 100K, approximately 65 miles long, almost entirely on dirt roads with some sections of off-road thrown in as well. You’ll ride through some of the most beautiful scenery in the Northeast, with plenty of climbing, and plenty of fun descents to match. The ride, named after the Chatham Brewery’s ale born and brewed in Columbia County in beautiful upstate New York offers a challenging course with rewards at the finish. A selection of gourmet food truck vendors will be at the finish area to allow riders to relax and replenish after a long ride. All riders 21 years or older completing the ride will receive a coupon for one free pint of Chatham Brewery’s Farmer’s Daughter Ale.
Directions: The start/finish is at the Columbia County Fair Grounds. Google: 182 Hudson Avenue, Chatham, NY 12037. Start Time: 9:00 AM, Sunday May 15, 2016. Free Parking.
Course description: The course will be approximately 65 miles in length with 6,000 feet of climbing. Approximately 45 miles of the ride will be on maintained gravel roads. Several “sections” will be on unmaintained dirt paths or double track trail. A cyclocross bike, gravel grinder bike, or adventure bike is optimal for the course, and a hard-tail mountain bike would also work well. Two fully supported Aid stations, portable toilets, and sweep vehicles will be provided. Be sure to carry some food and water, though, as well as the usual spare tubes, tools, and pump. Be prepared for a challenging but fun ride!
Benefit a local land conservancy: Proceeds from the Farmer’s Daughter Gravel Grinder will benefit the Columbia Land Conservancy. The CLC works with the local community to conserve the farmland, forests, wildlife habitat, and rural character of Columbia County, strengthening connections between people and the land.
The Farmers Daughter Gravel Grinder is a USAC Non-competitve gran fondo event run under USAC (Permit # 2016-944 is pending). Participants are NOT REQUIRED to have a USAC license. Participants are NOT REQUIRED to purchase a one-day license. All participants will need to sign an event waiver at check-in.
Register on BikeReg.
This was in today’s email:
Congratulations, Old Time Cycling has been selected for our Team Crank sponsorship program. This program will allow your club to receive pro deal pricing on e-Gel, e-Fuel and all of our products as well as some additional benefits. Your account has been activated and you now have access the area of our site reserved for team members.
I’m very excited to announce that Crank Sports will be sponsoring Old Time Cycling with their eFuel electrolyte drink and eGel electrolyte gels. Crank Sports manufactures premium energy gels and hydration drinks for endurance athletes that provide balanced energy, hydration and electrolyte replacement. eFuel and eGel are both gluten free, and no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners…just clean energy!