Tech­nique

In fall, you’ll ride and feel bet­ter if you fol­low this ad­vice

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Michael van den Ham

A cham­pion’s top-5 cy­clocross tips

Here are some tips that will help you per­form at your best, whether you find your­self rac­ing in mud, grass, sand or, most likely, all of the above. 1. Ride Your Cross Bike, Now

Ride your cy­clocross bike, now! Ob­vi­ous, right? But when I say ride the bike you are go­ing to race in ’cross sea­son, I mean ride it in just about ev­ery train­ing ses­sion from the be­gin­ning of Au­gust on­ward. There are a cou­ple rea­sons for hop­ping on early. The han­dling on your ’cross bike is not the same as ei­ther your moun­tain or road bike. There’s a good chance that your moun­tain bike and road po­si­tion are not the same as your ’cross po­si­tion, which has a big ef­fect on how you pro­duce power on the bike. This ad­vice, how­ever, doesn’t mean that you need to be ped­alling around on a grass field for a month and a half; it means that you should ride your CX bike on ev­ery type of ter­rain.

Itch­ing for some sin­gle­track? Rid­ing the CX bike on the trails is a great test of your han­dling skills. I’ve been known to show up to group rides on mine (at least for some trail net­works). What about a longer road ride? Throw some 28c slicks on your ’cross bike and head out for an ad­ven­ture.

2. Yoga is Your Friend

There is no cy­cling dis­ci­pline that in­volves more twist­ing and turn­ing, shift­ing and shak­ing, or run­ning and reach­ing than cy­clocross. Your hips and your back are par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to get­ting tight, so much so that the term “cross back” has come to de­scribe that sore feel­ing that so of­ten shows up 30 min­utes into a race. For me, the so­lu­tion is as sim­ple as mak­ing time for 15 to 30 min­utes of yoga prac­tice ev­ery morn­ing. Your yoga rou­tine doesn’t have to be ex­pen­sive or fancy (there are a num­ber of Youtube prac­tices that I fre­quently use), but creat­ing time for a lit­tle off-the-bike self-care will not only make you feel bet­ter in races, but make you a more func­tional hu­man be­ing in gen­eral.

3. At­tend a Cross Camp or Clinic

No one. Not me, not Stephen Hyde, not Wout van Aert is so good that he doesn’t need to make im­prove­ments on his cy­clocross tech­nique. The best way to do work on tech­nique is to at­tend a cy­clocross camp or clinic. If you at­tend a good one (I rec­om­mend any­thing Cy­cle-smart, where I’m a coach), you’ll learn proper meth­ods, get di­rect feed­back from a coach and, per­haps just as im­por­tant, have am­ple time to practise on a cy­clocross course with peo­ple who are of a sim­i­lar skill level to you.

4. Practise with Fo­cus

Of course, at­tend­ing a camp is use­ful, but spend­ing time turn­ing the skills you honed at your camp or clinic into hard-wired habits is in­valu­able. I like to add 15–20 min­utes a cou­ple times per week onto my ride to fo­cus on one or two cy­clocross skills. Pick a skill, whether it’s cor­ner­ing or a chal­leng­ing sec­tion, and spend time rid­ing it, break­ing down your tech­nique and re­peat­ing.

5. Don’t Un­der­es­ti­mate the Re­cov­ery Time

Once your sea­son has started and you are in the thick of rac­ing, one of the most valu­able things you can do is take the re­cov­ery just as se­ri­ously as the rac­ing. Cy­clocross is some­thing that isn’t a lot of fun if you aren’t fresh, so don’t be afraid to swap out train­ing days for re­cov­ery days or days com­pletely off the bike if you start to feel fa­tigued in the mid­dle of the sea­son.

“I like to add 15–20 min­utes a cou­ple times per week onto my ride to fo­cus on one or two cy­clocross skills.”

aboveRid­ing your CX bike on trails will help your tech­ni­cal abil­i­ties

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