The Cyclocross 2019 Thread

Steep sections where absolute brute power is a necessity. Or as you feel the need. There are times in a race where I mix it up depending on how I feel.

I seem to be seated almost all the time. I’ve been told that I need to hover more, but I seem to have a hard time getting that message through my head.

Just remember that if you get out of the saddle on a climb to push your backside over the saddle to put weight over the back wheel.

Should have plenty of clearance as it’s a new Crux Disc. I ride in CO so there typically isn’t a ton of mud but that is not always the case. Do you ride the 33c Terra Pros tubeless? If so what pressures and what internal rim size?

Did you hover through the grassy washboard back section of the orchard at sammamish? I hovered there. Staying seated I was getting bounced around. Also any time I was coasting into a turn in the bumpy roots I would be hovering. We’re very different weights though so your experience may vary.

Yes, tubeless on wtb rims, 19mm internal width. Usually pump them up to 25psi and then drop pressure according to course conditions. But our courses here in the UK are likely very different, usually there is quite a bit of grass, mud, a bit of woodland and nearly no rocky or artificial surfaces.
The Terras shed mud pretty well and give good grip. To be honest I haven’t experimented that much with different tyres and never rode tubs, so there is probably improvement to be had.

Finally got a complete race in at Thrilla last night (last week they pulled us after half a lap due to “lightning in the immediate vicinity”), and the course was back to being the dust-bowl that we all know and love (or hate).

I’ve got no complaints with the Speed Terranes. I was worried that traction would be an issue sprinting up the dusty hill to the first single-track section, but it wasn’t. I was worried that I’d just slide out on all the turns on the grass, but the side knobs did their thing and I stayed upright the whole race.

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I have 38 Terra pros and think they are great when it is sloppy. Been running 33 Grifos so far but will likely be back on the 38 when it gets muddy. A whole lot to gain from having lower pressure and that just isn’t the same for a larger rider on a 33

Hi. Long time listener, first time caller - but I have opinions on this topic so here we go!

Standing vs Seated power is a fine balance in cyclocross. Coming from the road, you totally have to re-learn how to pedal. When we stand on the road, we’re generally trying to absolutely mash out the power at what might be a “low” cadence (70-90 RPM). In cyclocross, the demands are a bit different. Generally when standing, it’s a very low-cadence situation, like below 40 RPM low-cadence. It could be a start, it could be a really steep section, you get the picture. The pedaling dynamics change since it’s imperative that your hips stay low and back to keep traction balanced - watch videos of the world cup races and you’ll notice that riders out of the saddle don’t have a very smooth pedal stroke. It almost looks like they’re “snapping” off each revolution - it’s a short, sharp, hard motion.

As far as when you might sit or stand, it all comes down to traction. Steep climbs are great for standing, but you risk losing traction on the rear wheel which is a death sentence for your momentum. The steeper the climb, the more your bike is angled backward, and the more awkward it gets to stand. I’d rather sit (hover) and use my whole body to crush the pedals. It’s a hard effort that really draws on neuromuscular power, but gives me the ability to ride things that might otherwise be run-ups. I think to a lesser extent this also comes into play on flat sections of bumpy ground. I race mostly in the midwest and a lot of the courses near me are eyeball-rattling levels of bumpy. If I stand to make a hard acceleration and I’m not really conscious of where my weight is, my rear wheel slips and the extra power I’m trying to wrangle all goes to waste.

Psychologically I do think there’s also something to be gained by being able to make those short hard efforts in the saddle. It looks smooth and easy, and your competitors will wonder how you’re riding away from them so easily. It might hurt you, but they don’t have to know that :slight_smile: Of course on smooth ground or a paved sprint finish good traditional sprinting form will serve you well. But it’s all different tools for different jobs.


What is the groups thoughts on nutrition for cross races.

This is my first cross season and I honestly have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t think I can make it a full 40 minutes without something so I’m just curious what others do.

I’ve done two races so far.
Race one I had some overnight oats beforehand and then a water bottle with scratch.
Race two I had overnight oats and the. Drank a bottle of maurten for about 90 mins and then had a gel right before race time.

Both races I felt good until about half way through.

Any thoughts would be great!!

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I’m going way too hard on a cross course to be able to absorb any food, and there are very few places in our courses that I would be comfortable going hard with a hand off the bars. I typically eat some jelly babies about half an hour before, drink water up to the start of the race and then don’t consume anything until the end.
Feeling bad about halfway through is normal, surely? :wink:

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About 90 minutes before a race, I try to eat a snack of white rice with maple syrup and a few slices of turkey breast or some peanut butter (to stave off hunger). I’m okay swapping the rice for gluten-free pancakes, if they’re available.

In between pre-ride and the race start, I’ll pop a couple Clif Shot Bloks in my mouth to signal my brain/body that it’s time to spend some energy, not because there will actually be time to digest and use those specific carbs during the race.

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I can’t/don’t eat during 45-60 minute cross races. I’m not against it, but as was said above, most of the time I’m hanging on for dear life–taking a hand off the bar is just not happening, and I’m so pinned that I don’t think I could digest anything anyway.

A gel/banana/sports drink before the start should be enough (assuming a good breakfast/lunch/whatever 2-3 hours beforehand). Be sure to be hydrated (but not over hydrated, there’s no stopping to pee in cross).

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I’ve heard from multiple sources that the body contains enough muscle/liver glycogen to get your through around 90 minutes of work unless you’re in a depleted state. My races are always at 9:30 am so I will always eat a normal breakfast which is usually big bowl of oatmeal (dressed up with banana, maple syrup, shredded coconut, and sunflower seeds) no less than 2 hr prior. I’ll generally nibble on a small snack within an hour prior (banana, or something sugary), but never have and never will consume anything on the bike while racing unless conditions are very hot in which case I’d carry a bottle filled 1/4 of the way with water.


After not doing much, if any indoor structured riding last CX season I’m trying to do all of my Tuesday sessions on the trainer and get real-good specificity in by doing structure. I’m not following a plan, but cherry picking workouts from the CX and Short Track MTB speciality plans based on how I feel and what time I have. Really trying to get a great VO2 or Anaerobic workout in on Monday or Tueseday following by a threshold workout mid-week and then race on the weekends.

Last Tuesday I had Megantic on tap. If you’re not familiar its a 30 second surge at 150% FTP followed by 8x 15/15’s at 125%/88%. It feels very much like a CX race in that there is really no recovery to be had. Heart rate doesn’t drop at all during the recovery and respiration is very high.

A late start forced me to chose the -1 version which was one less interval set. My god, this was so difficult. For me the hard part wasn’t so much hitting the high wattage as it was trying to hold “recovery” at 88%. I found myself dipping into that 75-80% of FTP range for recovery. Truly a bitch of a workout. I don’t think I had a 4th set in me.

What are some other workouts that have you begging for mercy? I think this one is great for really sharpening and lots of benefits will be derived both psychologically and physiologically.

As a 40+ age grouper I only do 40 minute races so I never have a problem with food, but my race on Sunday was hot (for the UK) and I found myself gasping for a drink by the end.

Is there an optimum time to drink before a race, or should I just keep drinking little and often through the morning?

I think it comes down to, I’m not doing enough leading up to the race. I’m not eating enough to have my glycogen stores topped off. Thanks all.

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Not sure about the timing- but if it is hot why not carry a bottle ? I find one bottle cage doesn’t get in the way, and I can (usually) find the time to take a swig on a long straightaway mid-way through the race.

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Food is hard. I can’t eat during races, and I usually race in the afternoon. I had it dialed when I raced in the morning - have a big breakfast, and a quick snack an hour ahead of the race then go. But now I struggle with it more. I still eat a good hearty breakfast, but I feel like I’m just always missing the mark with amount and timing of food throughout the day. I race at 1:30, I’m usually at the venue at 10, do I eat lots of little snacks? Do I eat lunch? It’s even worse for night races. What do you guys do when you have a long time before races? Regardless, I always have a light gel with some caffeine 5-10 minutes before the start and a coffee with my warm-up 45 minutes before the start.

The other thing I have a hard time with is hydration. I always make an effort to stay topped off the day leading into and the day of a race, but especially in early season when it’s hot an hour at full blast is a long time to go without water. I’m thinking of trying sodium loading to help, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it. Does anyone have opinions on that?

When I rode a TCX this was so key. Just remember to put your bottle in the seat tube cage so you can still shoulder if you have to. Unfortunately now I ride a bike that actually fits me and there’s no room for both my shoulder and even a small bottle. :confused: Oh well.