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Newbie training tips

AllezAllezAllezAllezAllezAllez Posts: 207
edited September 2016 in Cyclocross
Hi All,

I took part in my first Cross race at the weekend which was interesting. Legs felt ok, HR through the roof and 0 out of 10 for bike handling. I plan to take part in the rest of the Yorkshire series so I'm looking for some advise on training.

I'm just wondering what volume and type of training regular Cross Racers do? I'm 41 so in the Vets cat and up to now I'm a regular road rider with a mix of Social, Long rides and Chain Gangs.

Should I now focus on more intense interval based off road rides? Also, would you work on upper body strength and build in Running to your training?

It feels like I should be spending more time on the Cross bike than road bike.



  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    I dont think you need much upper body strength - but lots of cardio fitness. And practice your mounting /dismounting technique too.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,950
    Mount & dismount practice will potentially save a few seconds over each hurdle, so definitely worth doing. However, apart from that, just get used to riding at - or very close to - your threshold for 45-50 minutes..

    Volume is probably not as important as intensity work, so adjust your training accordingly.
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    I wouldn't bother with running training at this stage. You'll get the odd race (maybe 1 in 20) where running fitness makes a huge difference; otherwise, it's not as important as you might think.

    Dismounts and remounts are useful, and you're going to need to get them cracked at some point, but that might not be the easiest way to make up time; you're generally only doing one or two per lap, so even if you lose 2 seconds on every dismount and another 2 on every remount that's well under a minute for a typical race.

    I'd work on cornering and off-camber riding. In particular, learn to get round the technical sections with an absolute minimum of slowing down; that's where the really big gains are to be made. Find/make yourself a training loop that replicates some of the more technical parts of a race course, and ride round it, trying to use the brakes as little as possible. Then work on going faster, while using the brakes less. The less you slow down, the less you have to speed up again, and the less energy you use.

    If you can find a coached evening training session in your area, that'll be hugely beneficial; lots of clubs run them, often welcoming members of other clubs, though it may be a bit early in the season at the moment.
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • As TGOTB on the bike handling. You say your legs felt good, HR through the roof.....that's cross for you but conserving energy on the course can be key. Also the courses you'd be racing on at this stage of the year should be fairly none technical as it's generally pretty dry and grip isn't a big issue but later in the season when it gets muddy that can be a real leveller when guys with good bike handling make up time on those that are fit but not so good. Honestly though that is part of the love of it, getting that one tricky corner nailed or that off camber section, no one is faultless through a whole race. Yes work on intervals but also try workouts when you sprint then hold threshold for a few minutes first. This is where people blow up a lot (myself included) by going hard at the start of the race then just spending the rest of the race in deficit. Welcome to the church of muddy suffering btw
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    edited September 2016
    Some good suggestions already. Two things I'd add.

    1) Lot of the speed over a lap comes from figuring out where you carry speed, where you conserve and where you go all out. Observe riders faster than you, and learn from what they do. Think about your pacing during sighting laps, have a plan in your head about where you'll attack if you need to break up a group. If there's a technical section that doesn't suit you, think about how you'll minimize the damage that's going to do to your speed. You can neutralise a single track by getting to the front, you can often be faster running than riding, think outside the box. Learn from others during the race, think on your feet.

    2) When I look at a cross race power file, there is hardly any time ridden at threshold. It's all way above or way below. So train accordingly. The guy who can sprint the hardest the most often wins. I do one session of sprint or tabata intervals per week in the early season, and two in the late season.
  • There are some good training plans on TrainingRoad if you use that. I am currently in the middle of High Volume Cyclecross one.

    In general you have a days interval training followed by a easy more endurance ride. Not all interval days are the same e.g one day might be (e.g. 3 min on 3 min off) to 15 sec/15 off in a pyramid style structure. If you have a controllable turbo it's really good.

    Also worth reading up on the different tyres and pressures people use. I had one race last year (i was a beginner) where I must have fallen about 15 times on the off camber stuff due to my tyres. This was a wet race and had dry tyres and high pressure.......
  • Thanks for the replies, some good stuff there. Roll on Sunday.
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