I think this applies to everyone…not just those coming from other disciplines.
Cross is just hard in a lot of ways, and it takes time. I made a lot of progress from my first season to this, my second. I’m stronger…but also I think I’m making better decisions. I need to find about 30 seconds a lap to podium…
Ok so here are the issues I’ve encountered that can counter superior fitness AND skills
1- pacing. You just have to figure this out on your own. You’re going to go into the red right from the start gun…yhe question is how much. Go hard, pick up as many spots as you can. If you’re staged high enough that you can effectively move into a better place than you’re hoping for…do it. Evem if it slows you down more than would be ideal. Because everyone you passed at the start has to pass YOU now, and it taked more energy to do that mid race as things get strung out.
2 - Dont needlessly pass people. I made this mistake my forst year. I’d gas myself to pass 2 or 3 people that I really wasnt moving any faster than. Only pass if you can sustain a higher pace. Or if it is super close…fall in behind and then wait until you are sufficiently recovered from a previous hard effort to pass and continue on wothout going too deep.
3 - Pick your spots to expend enerygy on the course. And, do it BEFORE the race. Pre ride to make a plan. It doesnt make any sense to sprint out of every corner in a technical section only to slam on the brakes 50ft later. Focus on just being smooth and conserving momentum there.
Spots to plan on expending energy IMO - lead up to short sharp hills. If punching it in a straightaway before a hill gets you up it quickly, where otherwise you might have to grind up the second half, or hop off and run, put in the effort to fly up and have a bit of momentum through the top. Also longer straightaways, especially if they are uphill. Just go, as hard as you can, especially if they lead into a more technical section, which they often do. And heck…even if you do blow up and need a couple minutes to cone down…you’re in a technical section and the people behind you who you passed in a straightaway, will have a harder time repassing you in the twisty section.