Check out this fab vid that really gives you an idea of what Cyclocross is all about. Its AWESOME!
The winter season is a time for you to take your foot of the pedal a little, try something new and get strong. I definitely covered off all of the above when I embarked on my first Cyclocross event. (Especially the foot off the pedal bit!!)
Last Saturday I met up with one of our athletes Chris who made the mistake of mentioning the North West Cyclocross series while away with us at Challenge Paguera. Well you don’t need to mention something like that to me twice I was IN! I’d been toying with the idea of Cyclocross for a few years. I already had the bike. It was actually the first drop bar bike I bought which I used for commuting through the streets of London. So I was good to go right? Wrong!
The first thing that’s quite different but welcome about Cyclocross is the start time. 12.40pm, if this was a 70.3 you’d be well onto the run by this point.
The general principle is to do as many laps of a crazy, obstacle ridden mud bath course while remaining upright and avoiding collisions with other riders. It sounds easier than it actually is!!! It is nails!! BUT amazing fun and amazing cross training for triathletes…here’s why:
You get relentlessly practice your mount & dismount – There are parts of the course that will require you to dismount & run, whether it be steep uphill sections, deliberate obstacles or maybe you just fell off but you do it a many number of times throughout each lap and practice makes perfect right? I definitely got better as the race went on
General Bike handling skills – I particularly had trouble handling the bike as my tyres were fit for the roads of London as opposed to the bogs of Otterspool park but just to stay upright and keep momentum moving forward you HAVE to engage the core. Your balance is exercised to the max, if you’re not sliding side ways down a hill, you cornering a hairpin with a back wheel on a different path to you. There is not really any part of the ride that you can relax into. For the entire time you are on the bike you have to be absolutely focused.
It’s a great HIT session – This is a hard, anaerobic session for 40 minutes. Even cycling on the flat, which feels like a treat on your road bike, feels like treacle here, in fact some stretches of flat it was quicker for me to jump off and carry my bike than to actually try pedal through it. Running up steep embankments with a heavy bike over your shoulder is now laughing matter either so its not just a cardio workout, you’re getting string here too
It’s a tough, challenging ride with some really good transferable skills for triathlon. I would highly recommend building into your winter training. Here are some tips to doing your first Cyclocross event.
Just do it! - Turn up & race. I didn’t let myself think about it too much, I didn’t set myself any goal other than to not come last and to stay on my bike. Both of which I amazingly managed to achieve.
The right tyres – I was fortunate to have a Cyclocross bike but a mountain bike is absolutely fine and in many cases better as it all about the right tyres really. If too slick then you’re wheels literally just spin out and you’re going nowhere. Ask at you local bike shop what the recommend.
Use SPD's – I didn't have the right pedals on my bike and I really missed being clipped in. This would have allowed me to get further up hills and to be more stable on the downs
Reccie the course- This is something I recommend in any race but particularly a lap of a Cyclocross race. Its good to get it in your head just once before you go out there
Hang back at the start – It’s almost like a swim start in Triathlon. Its get choppy & risky up there. Let them go and you’ll soon find that you pass most people on the hills with your bike thrown over your shoulder
Listen for riders passing you – I was nervous about the fast riders passing me but they let you know which side they will pass on and they’re so skillful they do it without throwing you off and almost all of them have some words of encouragement to help you on your way
So there you have it! A fantastic way to cross train this season and something you can do with friends too.
If you’re based in the North West then check out the North West Cyclo Cross league. Very well organised and a great bunch of people. I was overwhelmed by the lovely words of encouragement each rider gave, as they would be passing me on laps, it really was nice & friendly and not scary at all!!!
The next race I am going to is Heaton Park Manchester on 6th December. Come join us! Its between £10-£16 to register which you can do online or on the day. We’ll be meeting at 10am which give us a few hours to register, have a coffee and get out on the course before the race start. Get in touch if you want to join us
Here is Chris & I Periscoping (Live broadcasting) just after the Race. #bigsmiles
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