The past is the past. You can’t change it. You can only learn from it. But what can you do when you don’t have a recent cyclocross race season to reflect back on? That’s a tough question and when I don’t really know the answer to because it’s one I’ve never had to deal with. Usually after a race season I would think about my strengths, weaknesses and what I thought I could work on for the coming year. Funny as I look back on it now because at the end of every season I would always say to myself, “I need to get better at sprinting!” and I never really got any better! Oh well.

Without a past race season to analyze I would probably look back at the season prior and focus on developing strength, fitness and skills where I knew I was lacking. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for most of you to come up with 3 to 5 areas that really need improvement. For those of you that are just getting started with cyclocross, don’t stress, just get a plan and stick to it. If you stay loyal to the plan you will get fitter and faster.

In the this particular off-season it would be my hope that you are feeling a bit more fresh and motivated than in years prior due to the lack of racing. Chances are if you haven’t started already my hope would be you are chomping at the bit to start some structured training and build a rock solid foundation for the coming season.

Let me get this out of the way now: an off-season break is very important. I won’t go in to the details as to why because there are folks out there who are way smarter than me who have already written at length about this topic. Google it or read this training tip here. If you haven’t taken a break yet you should. How long? Two weeks minimum.

Now that you’ve taken your break and you’re mentally fresh, it’s time to get back in the game. If you’re reading this in January you have approximately eight months to get ready for the next cyclocross season. That is quite a long time, however, the clock is ticking and if you don’t get started now you are missing out on a prime opportunity to be our best for the approaching season. January through April is when you should be hitting the weight room, cross training (running, hiking, XC skiing, alpine touring, etc.) and improving flexibility. Now is the time to increase your overall strength which will translate to more power, faster recovery time, and injury prevention which ultimately leads to better race results!

If you want to be a better cyclocross racer it begins in with a strength-training program that should incorporate flexibility, mobility and agility exercises. This program also include on the bike training as well as the aforementioned cross training.

Like I stated earlier you’re just building the foundation for more serious on-the-bike training, summer racing and ultimately a successful cyclocross season. For others, this is a stellar framework for creating personalized plan with a coach.  Either way, you need to start now. There’s no silver bullet to easily becoming a faster bike racer. Get a plan, do the work and you’ll have your best ‘cross season yet!

About Brandon Dwight: Brandon was a professional mountain bike racer from 1999 – 2001 and professional cyclocross racer from 1999-2007. He is a four-time U.S. Masters National Cyclocross Champion. For more than a decade, Brandon has provided thousands of people with cyclocross skills and training advice. He lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and two children.

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