Wow, it’s been a while since I posted anything here. I was hoping to post throughout the cyclocross season, but that just didn’t happen…racing almost every weekend and, of course, working.
Cyclocross season went exceptionally well for me. No, no podiums…not even top 50% finishes. But that’s not me in cyclocross. I raced the whole NYCROSS Series and finished 11th in the overall Series in the Masters 45+ category. That’s a huge improvement from the previous years finishing 20 something overall. I also raced many more races including some of the bigger races in the northeast..Cycle Smart International, SuperCross Cup and USA Cycling National Championships. 2016 was the season that decided to focus my racing on cyclocross. I do other racing through the spring and early summer, but it’s all training for CX.
After nationals, I took a month off from everything for rest, recovery and eating. Training has started again with 3 days of at or near 70 degrees…in February. It felt good to be out on the bike again after a good rest.
I injured my planters fascia back in May 2016, and it’s still not 100%. But, I’m back to running too. Today was my first run in more than 8 months and it feels surprisingly good. Sure, it was a short run, but I’m not going to make the same mistake again and do too much too soon. So, bike 3 to 4 days a week and run 1 to 2 days a week is starting to sound like a good training plan.
This past weekend was the start of the NYCROSS.com Cyclocross Series. Race #1 was Kirkland CX held at Kirkland Town Park in Clinton, NY. Heavy rain overnight turned the course into a very soggy race course, which isn’t all that unusual for this race. I’m not sure if I’ve ever raced there when it was dry. After a two hour drive and registration/number pick up, I was able to pre-ride the course and get in a good warm-up. I’m trying to pre-ride a lap each race, which is something that I haven’t always done in the past. It definitely makes a difference in my racing.
I had a decent start, although I did start at the back and it was the typical fast Masters start. I rode pretty well and I managed to pass a few riders along the way. I ended up finishing in 10th place and also finishing on the lead lap.
Next up is back to Connecticut for Hop Brook Cyclocross in the CT Cyclocross Series.
Yep, cyclocross season is in full swing for me. I just finished my third weekend of racing and my sixth ‘cross race of the season. My racing this year is very heavy in cyclocross, partly due to early season illness and injury. In addition, as I have said many times, I just love cyclocross. This weekend brought me to two days of racing in CT and it was my first time racing in the CT Cyclocross Series. Saturday was at Silk City Cyclocross on the campus of Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT. A very hot day and a very sandy, dry and dusty racecourse. I finished 31st in the Masters 50+ category.
Then on Sunday, I headed back to CT to the Hartford Riverfront Cyclocross at Riverside Park in Hartford. Riverside Park will be the site of the 2017 USA Cycling National Championships. And while this was not the course that will be used, it certainly gave everyone a look at many potential course features for that January race. The day wasn’t as hot, but the racecourse was as dry as Saturday’s race. I liked this race a lot. it was very fast and you definitely needed skills. I had a very good ride, riding all the off camber, the sand pit 4 of 5 laps and all three sets of barriers clean. I finished 27th in the Masters 50+ and felt so much better than the day before. I can tell that I’m racing myself in to cyclocross shape.
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.
After a short 2 week setback in my training, my fitness is back to where it was before I got sick. In fact, I might be a little bit ahead of where I was. I’ve incorporated running into my training routine, and while I’me still not a big fan of running, it has certainly helped improve my overall fitness.
The only reason that I am running is because I am also training for the HRRT Central Park Off Road Duathlon in Schenectady. Each year I want to race a duathlon but always shied away because of the runs. This year I’m all in. I’ve been running twice a week with no bike on those days. With 5 weeks until race day, today was my first bike and run training day. A 10 mile bike with a 2 mile run…one step at a time…