Cyclocross: Racing

On race day, arrive with enough time to register, review the course and warm up. The course review is your opportunity to figure out how the course suits you. Take a good look at the approaches to the dismounts. Decide whether to get off your bike several meters before the obstacle or right at it (try both to see what works best for you). Remember, the keys to determining what's best are energy-efficiency and speed. Sometimes it is too difficult to wait until the last second to dismount, event if it means running that couple of extra meters. Under these circumstances, you are eliminating the risk of an accident.

After examining all the dismounts, decide where you will remount your bike. Pick the smoothest spot to set the bike down, remount and put your feet back into the pedals. This will increase your efficiency and make it possible to start pedaling with full force immediately.

Consider what gearing you'll use throughout the course, paying particular attention to the sections where you will have to preshift. This could mean shifting into the gear you will need at the top of the run-up before you dismount at the bottom. Decide where you can go the fastest, and make your attacks there.

If the course lacks a designated pit, or service area, decide which sections of the course are most likely to cause a crash or mechanical and place your spare equipment just beyond it. Practice bike exchanges with a friend who can help out as your mechanic on race day.

Once you've studied the course, it's time for a warm-up. It is important to have a good warm-up for cyclo-cross because races are only 30 minutes to an hour long, so once the gun sounds, you need to be ready. Your warmup should take no less than 25 minutes. Include a few sprints, a little tempo work and stretching. Find a good spot on the start line and get ready for the fun.

Tactically, the best way to ride the race is to divide it into thirds. The first phase is the start - you have to go as hard as you can, jockeying for position. In the second third, catch your breath while evaluating how well you have done (this will take longer for some people than others; try to keep the "rest" interval as short as possible). The final phase is the race to the finish. You have two choices here; Defend your present place, or try to move up. Whatever you decide, it will require total focus until you cross the finish line for the last time.

This Article Published July 22, 2004 For more information contact: