Quite often we are asked how to make a practice cyclocross course so one can use it as part of their weekly training program. If you live in a typical suburban area this might be fairly easy to pull off. For others who live in metropolitan area it might be a bit more of a challenge. Either place it can be done, you just need to be creative.
For our purposes here let’s say there are two kinds of courses to design, one for practicing technical skills and the other for working on race fitness. A race fitness course requires a larger area to use and ideally has some elevation to play around with. While maybe not quite as long, this would be similar to real ‘cross race course and is more than 5 minutes per lap. This requires some planning and you would ideally have sections that really test your fitness such as long straightaways through thick grass, 5-15 seconds climbs and of course lots of twists and turns. Many town parks, school grounds and athletic fields can offer this palette, but it does require some creativity. You also make sure you do not upset anyone by riding in these areas. My suggestion is to find out if you are legally allowed to ride in these areas and if so, ride by yourself or with one or two other people. The less attention you bring to yourself, the better your chances are of being able to keep training there. Don’t get caught up in making it a real cyclocross course, just make sure each lap has one or two fitness and power sections, a running section, a couple dismounts and a few twists and turns.
So much potential!
Designing a course for practicing technical skills is much easier. It fact, you can do it almost anywhere. Ride around your town and look for a place that has some features you might see on a ‘cross course. Do you see an off-camber side hill? Set up a figure-8 course on it and start doing laps. Start with a small figure-8 and then go a bit bigger and bigger. I like figure-8 set ups because it forces you to work on turning left and right. You can do this simple figure-8 course on flat grass and in sand, (volleyball court, playground, etc.) too. Do you see a few trees over in the corner of a city park? Start riding around them as fast as you can. Pretend it’s a race and someone is chasing your down. Head out to a local school or office park and look around. I’ll bet if you search hard enough, you’ll find the makings of a few great little technical laps.
If your are lucky enough to have a few different options to choose from around your town here is a great training suggestion for you: Ride to your first technical lap as a warm up and do 10-20 laps, ride to your next little skills loop – do 10-20 laps, ride to your next little skills loop – do 10-20 laps, etc. Do this at 5 or 6 locations and then ride home. This would be an awesome day of skills training. I’ll wrap up this post with a link to an Instagram post from Belgian National Champion Toon Aerts showing us a little technical loop he created. This is an excellent example of showing what you can do with a very small amount of space. https://www.instagram.com/p/B0-sfmHIHn8/
Happy #secrettraining !
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