Ouch! Cyclocross Drills & Technique Practice

7:44 AM

I’m a big reader – always have been – so when the English teacher would send us home for summer vacation with some summer reading selected off of her College Bound Reading List I was always confident that I could knock off the books easily.  Probably before the 4th of July.

Of course, this would never happen.  Weeks would go by where I would fill my time with…I don’t even know what…too much daytime television (oh, Days of Our Lives, how many hours did I spend watching to see what was going to happen to Bo and Hope?) and gossiping on the phone.  The reading could always wait until tomorrow.  August 1st would come around and I would make a fitful start at the reading, but it suddenly seemed a whole lot less interesting than it did back in June.  Inevitably the week before school began would find me trying to cram in all my reading, and remembering very little.  Not exactly the enriching experience envisioned by my teacher.

I am proud to say I continue this tradition today.  When putting together my training plan for the year, I noted that in June I would begin weekly cyclocross technique sessions.  My remount is serviceable, but deteriorates in the second half of a race.  The closing laps will always find me leaping higher and higher as I tire.  This also means, of course, that I land with quite a thud on my seat.  I am also not particularly graceful when running with my bike, and I know that I could grab valuable seconds on barriers if I could combine better running with a better remount.

And how much technique practice have I done?  None.  Absolutely none.

One thing I don't have to practice - the shoulder carry - no pushing for me!
So I got together with a couple of teammates the other night just to work on technique and drills.  Ouch!

Drill 1: Core Strength
We began with basic core.  Now, I haven’t completely ignored this, but I also haven’t been hitting it like I should have this whole year.  My basic philosophy?  Do one set of everything you can think of for abs (front and side) and your back.  This is a lot less embarrassing to do in a public park when you are joined by three other people who are also dressed in a silly kit like yours.

Drill 2: Suitcase Carries
This was definitely more of an odd sight for those folks who came to the park for a nice evening stroll.  Dismount, run with your bike while completing 10 suitcase carries in a row (like you were jumping 10 barriers), then remount.  Go back and do this again 5 times.  Then, and this is the kicker, do it on the other side.  By the end of this drill I was gasping for air and my core was definitely engaged.  I was never able to master the off-side remount – way too awkward.  I have been off the wrong side of my bike in a race, but it happens so rarely that I think I’ll take the extra seconds I need to get myself on the right side before remounting.

Technique 1: Relearning the Remount
While I know what is going wrong with my remount, I wasn’t sure what I should be doing to address it.  It turns out the answer was quite simple – I had someone watch me complete some remounts, and he picked up on something right away.  It turns out I was mainly using my legs to complete my remount, completely forgetting to shift my hips toward the saddle.  I’m starting slowly – only at a walking pace at this point – but over the next 4-6 weeks I will build up to full speed with this corrected technique.

Technique 2: Lifting the Front & Back End
Last cyclocross season saw the introduction of mini-barriers in some of the races - small 4-inch barriers that you could ride over.  I banged over these every lap in the state championships and was so worried I was going to do permanent damage to my wheels that in the last lap, when I was dead tired, I actually dismounted and ran them.  To get ready I spent about 10 minutes practicing lifting my front end (swoop down first, then back up), and flicking my back end up (just a little lift from the feet).  This is where I can really feel the mountain bike skills transfer over, as it is now darn easy to lift my CX bike.  Next week I’ll put down some sticks so I can practice timing this type of move.

Not a bad start, and it really is early days (my first cyclocross race isn’t until September 22).  It was nice to get back on the CX bike again – like catching up with an old friend…   

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