I don’t gamble, but if I was bettin’ man I’d throw in all my chips on seeing a green light for the 2021 cyclocross season. As you’ve likely seen, there are local races popping up around the country as well as pre-registration for some iconic summer events. There no doubt that #crossiscoming. If we can a stay the course from a health and safety standpoint, it won’t be long before we’re railing through the mud, slinging bikes on our shoulders and hurdling barriers.
However, it is only April so before we get ahead of ourselves we’ve got some work to do. There’s roughly six months until the start of the cyclocross season. Here are ten golden cyclocross training tips for what you should be doing, or at least thinking about, as we prepare for the season.
1) Find a cyclocross bike. In the past April was generally a great time to buy a cyclocross bike, but with the recent rush on pandemic-induced bike sales finding the right deal could be challenging. Call your local shop, browse the used marketplace or ask your friends. Just be sure you are purchasing from a reputable source and someone you trust. A used cyclocross bike may look appealing but a drivetrain, hubs and bottom brackets can take a beating during cyclocross season. A used bike can end up costing your big bucks later on. The benefit of purchasing from a bike shop is it will likely come with a complimentary bike fit, a warranty and some free mechanical service. Building a relationship with your local bike shop can pay big dividends when you need help with mechanical issues during the season. (Pro Tip: most mechanics like beer, coffee and homemade cookies if you want to hook them up for a job well done!)
Do you already have a sweet ‘cross bike? Great! Get it overhauled, cleaned and ready to ride!
2) Get a training plan (there’s a good one here ) There is no substitute for hiring a qualified cyclocross coach to guide you through the season. If you have the means our recommendation is to find a coach who has raced cyclocross and understands the nuances of the sport. If you can’t afford or don’t want a coach we have economical solutions for you. Again, make sure it is created by a person who knows ‘cross. The take home message here is get a training plan and stick with it. Join the discussion on the FasCat Forum.
3) Ride your bike. Sure, an indoor trainer is great for those of you who have to deal with cold winter weather or have to ride before the kids get out of bed, but there’s no substitute for riding outside. Spring is the time to ride some dirt roads, paths and trails at any comfortable pace. If there are any awkward noises, pain or discomfort with your bike or your body, now is the time to figure it out. Do not wait a week before the season starts! If you can find time to ride three times per week that would fantastic. If you can only ride outside once a week, well…that’s fantastic, too!
4) Join a club or team. There are lots of great clubs and teams across the country that encourage beginners to join their squad. Do not be intimidated to try to join a team or club. The cyclocross community is filled with amazing folks who want to teach you how fun and rewarding the sport can be. If for any reason a club makes you feel inferior or like you don’t belong then it is not the right one for you. Ask around and you’ll find one that fits.
5) Get a racing license. A racing license is good for the calendar year and if you buy it now then you’re somewhat committed, right?! Check with your local race organization about license requirements and what category you should register. If you have never raced cyclocross you should register at the beginner level. If you belong in a more advanced category your results will prove this and you can ask for an upgrade after the first few races.
6) Mix it up. There is no reason to be only riding your bike for exercise right now. This is time of year for some cross training. (Not to be confused with cyclocross training!) Stay active, but mix it up. Lift some weights, do yoga, run, zumba…whatever. As long as you stay active and get the blood flowing.
7) Lace up those running shoes. Running is generally a very minor part of most cyclocross races, but we don’t want your tendons and ligaments to explode the first time you run with your bike on your shoulder. Our personal take on running is if you can get in about 30 minutes once or twice a week you’re doing well. You will do some sprints, speed drills and hill repeats, as we get closer to the season. Here’s some cyclocross running training tips to get your “hup, hup” on!
8) Start working on your core strength. Like Planks
10) Start stretching