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Dan Cooks Cross Technique

In the first of our features on cyclocross techniques, Old Gimmer and Planet X rider Dan Cook suggests some techniques that can be used across all races: The Start and How to Carry Your Bike- invaluable info for the cyclocross rookie.

The Start:

Cross race starts are usually quite fast.  Unlike most other events, there is less chance as the race goes on of moving up through the field, as it quickly spreads out and can bottleneck at the first few single track or technical sections. When there’s 150 or more riders fighting for their place, a decent starting effort can reap rewards later on.

So you’re lined up, either in a long line across a field, or in some sort of grid (usually depending on the number of riders and the quality of the event).  Pick your line in advance and make sure you’re in the right gear... There’s a few seconds notice, when you’re balanced with one foot on the ground (a racing requirement) on the edge of the saddle and you’re other foot clipped in and ready to push. 
Dan Cook on the Cyclocross Mass Start

Then the gun! Keep your line straight, but look for the gaps opening that you can move into.  Its elbow to elbow stuff for a little while especially as you go around the first corner, so be fair to everyone else.  Bring others off and you are likely to go down too.  Avoid crossing wheels with those in front of you – the most likely chance of a fall. Balancing your effort is also critical.  Getting an unbelievably good start is only good if you can maintain that, other wise you’ll pay for it over the next ten minutes, so try hard, but don’t pile everything in just yet.

Of course, it actually all begins before the start in your race preparation, but that’s another story….

Carrying your bike:

There are two reasons you might need to get off your bike during a ‘cross race – obstacles and steep banks.  The classic way to carry your bike is over your shoulder, but the effort required to lift it this far is only appropriate when you have a longer running section that would be aided by dynamically using your free arm to drive your run (as runners do). Most people sit their bike on their right shoulder to keep the chainset and drive out of the way, but there are exceptions so if you prefer to use the left side, just swap the hands over in the description following.
How to Carry Your Bike in Cyclocross Racing
To shoulder the bike once off the bike, grab the down tube half way down with your other hand keeping hold of the top of the bars and lift it, pushing your right elbow and arm through the frames main triangle.  Your right arm then wraps around the front of the head tube and grabs the rear brake hood (for those with longer limbs), or goes underneath the downtube and holds the very end of the left side of the bars.  Your left hand is then free to run with, or hold onto the ground in front of you, if you are in the middle of the three peaks! Your bike should sit mostly behind you and at an angle, so that you are balanced.  Don’t let it slide forwards as this lowers the front wheel so it can catch on the ground in front of you, unbalances it and puts a big strain on your back.
But most times you only need to carry your bike like this
For the most part though, you only need to carry your bike for very brief periods – cross racing is after all about the riding.  To do this and once off the bike, grab the back of the top tube with one hand and the top of the bars with the other.  The bike is then balanced and can be lifted and put back down smoothly and easily, with both wheels leaving and returning to the ground simultaneously. 

This can then be easily integrated into getting off and back on in one fluid motion – one of the techniques in the next instalment.

Thanks again to Andy Jones for the photos!

22 September 2011

Comments

  • Greg

    Quick question:- How well do your various carbon wheels stand up to a bit of 'cross? I'm looking at the Carbon Clinchers and the R50 wheels as sportive/cross wheels and I would like to hear what your experiences with these wheels off-road are ^.^

  • IanC (Planet X Team)

    Hi Kai - that's one of our older team designs which we no longer stock. This is the current faster model ;-) .... http://www.planet-x-bikes.co.uk/i/q/CLPXPTTRI/planet-x---nalini-pro-team-long-sleeve-skin-suit

  • Kai

    Hi, I like this suit. How can I get one?

  • IanC (Planet X Team)

    Hi Joep - you might be right ;-) We'll ask him to comment on the advantages / disadvatgaes of going rubber-less in his next blog.

  • Joep

    Shouldn't there be a tube on the rear wheel? And so what brand and type :)