The wait over. Cyclocross season is here. If you’ve been doing all the #secrettraining homework I have suggested you are now fit, flexible, hydrated, a few pounds lighter and have the core strength of an Instagram fitness model. Furthermore, your bike is dialed and so are your cyclocross skills. If you’re reading this while holding a bag of chips and Super Big Gulp, fear not. There is still time and hope for you to have a stellar ‘cross season. Be sure to check out our 20-week #secrttraining program that will take you from the start of September al the way through the end of the season. This program is more or less a “race into shape” approach to training. You’re going to have to dive head first into the deep end of a shark tank. Don’t worry, the training plan will help you come out alive. To learn more about this program CLICK HERE >>
Regardless of whether you have been training all summer or just getting started, here are ten tips for September to help you kick off the season!
1) Day before race day prep: The day before a ‘cross race is an important one. You should create a plan to get your body and bike ready on this day. Try to do an “openers” type of ride, clean your bike and make sure it works perfectly. Eat well, stay hydrated and get a good night sleep. Pack up your gear bag with everything you need for race day. Go to bed knowing everything is ready for race day! I like a simple one hour “opener” ride workout like this (found in our #secrettraining training plans)
2) Pre-race morning routine: It’s race day! Create a schedule that works for you. When and what are you going to eat? What time are you going to get to the race to inspect the course. This can change every weekend based on other life responsibilities. Be sure to have a some rough guidelines to follow so you’re not running around like a chicken with your head cut off before the start of every race.
3) Two hours before the gun goes off: Try to get to each race two hours before start time. This will give you ample time to get your race number, visit the bathroom (multiple times), put on race clothes, inspect the course, warm-up, adjust tire pressure and deal with any last minute issues.
4) Warm up on the course: My personal opinion is, whenever possible, warm up on the course or near the course and not on a stationary trainer. I know there are tons of professionals who warm up on trainers. Most have very specific and ‘scientific’ warm up protocols to follow. The more famous racers warm up on a trainer because if they do so on the course they tend to get interrupted by fans wanting autographs or selfies. This is a problem most you and I don’t need to worry about! I think warming up on or near the course will help activate more muscles that you will engage during the race. If the weather is nasty (snow, rain, cold, wind) nothing beats a stationary trainer for warming up. You should still pre-ride and inspect the course, but complete your warm up on the trainer. (Note: stationary trainers are awesome for #secretttraining workouts!)
5) Post race recovery: This is a gigantic topic so I’ll dumb it down as best as possible. Try to eat or drink a mix of carbohydrates and protein within 15 minutes of finishing your race. This could be something such as a branded recovery drink or a container of homemade rice and eggs. Basically, find something healthy to consume and doesn’t make your stomach turn. Try to ride easy for at least about 15 minutes after your race rather than crossing the line and heading straight home.
6) Dial in that tire pressure: Again, another huge topic here and there is a massive amount of information about this on the internet, but here goes. You should try to use as low of a tire pressure as possible that feels comfortable to you. By comfortable I mean: Does the tire feel stable underneath you while riding? It should. Does the tire not fold over when cornering at high speeds? It should not. Do you feel the tire bottoming out on the rim frequently when riding. It should not, but be very close to doing so. “Only once per lap” I have heard Katie Compton say about her tires bottoming out and I agree. Tire pressure will vary based on tire brand, style, course conditions, body weight and rider skill level. Go to a local park with your race wheels, pump and tire gauge. Set up a mini-course and do a few laps at a staring pressure a bight higher than you might typically use. Do a few laps, then lower it a couple psi. Repeat this step until you get to the point when it feels like the pressure is too low, then bump it up a bit. This should help you get a rough baseline of where to start on race day. Another option is to ask more experienced riders what tire pressure they are using.
7) Wednesdays are for work. As you know Wednesday is the middle point of the week. It sits right between your last race and your next race. By Wednesday you should be fully recovered from last weekend’s race and ready for a hard workout. My favorite work out, and I am not alone, is to do a couple mini race pace efforts with friends at a local park. Over the years this has taken on a name of its own and some call it Wednesday Worlds. (In reference to a World Championship race.) A mini race could look like this: create a simple cyclocross course at your local park or school. Use natural obstacles to make twists, turns, off-camber sections, run ups, etc. The lap should be about 4-5 minutes. Try to get everyone to do a 3-5 hard laps so the total effort lasts 15-20 minutes. Take a 5-10 minute break and do it again.
8) Start practice: Before or after your Wednesday effort you should practice 10 cyclocross race starts. Work on a smooth transition off the line, clipping in easily to your pedal, and powering up to full speed for about 15 seconds. Trust me, this will pay off at some point. Do any of you youngsters know who Larry Bird is? Back in the day he was an NBA superstar. At the end of every practice, while his teammates were showering in the locker room, Larry was still on the court shooting 100 free throws. He was one of the best free throw shooters and players of all time. The point is: practice the basics.
9) Stay strong: At least once a week you should do some upper body and core strengthening exercises. A 30-45 minutes dynamic routine will do. We designed this one for you to do at home with minimal equipment.
10) Knowledge is power. Read our previous posts about water, stretching, as well as past monthly Tips for March , April May June and August. There are a bunch of great nuggets in these posts anyone can benefit from. Don’t get overwhelmed. Pick a few things you can accomplish and check it off the list!
Good luck this season! Oh, and don’t forget your planks!
Did you stumble upon#secrettraining a bit late? Don’t worry, just start a plan and stick to it. Remember it’s all about quality, not quantity. Need help? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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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