I just figured I toss out some general cyclocross racing tips for getting ready since Im getting a lot of the same questions from clients lately. First off, pilule here is a short 45min warm up that is pretty good for cross that I like to do. I will often times alter it based on what generally seems to work for a rider I am coaching, but here the one I like to use that seems really effective for most riders:
45min on trainer with trainer rear wheel and tire:
- 5 min endurance pace, 90-100 rpm
- 4 min tempo pace, 95 rpm
- 2 min rest
- 3 min threshold or just below at 100+ rpm
- 2 min rest
- 2 min hard effort, over threshold, 100 rpm
- 2 min rest
- 2 min hard effort, over threshold, 100+ rpm
- 5 min rest
Remove bike from trainer, put on race wheels and check equipment.
Another note on race prep, be sure that you gear is packed, cleaned, maintained, ready to go the day before the race. You don’t want to be fidgeting around with anything right before the race, or find any problems in the gear. This is cross, the bikes take a little extra TLC to balance out the mud and abuse they take than your road bike, so be sure to keep this in mind when planning out your weekend racing plans, and prepping your gear.
Racing this time of year has all sorts of weather, be prepared for whatever may come at you. Once you start the race, you probably wont need a lot of extra clothes on you, a skinsuite with a base layer under it has been plenty warm on cold days for me, but during the warm up, you dont want keep as warm and loose as possible(not too warm, we dont want to get overheated in the warm up either!) So the main goal is to have clothes for the warm up. If you take a preview lap before your warm up, or right before you race, try to keep on any rain gear you have if its wet and muddy-nothing wrong with a preview lap with a clip on fender, rain pants and a rain coat on a muddy day-you dont want to start your warm up already wet and muddy, or be standing around at the start line getting cold. Most rain gear is pretty easy to rip off at the last second and hand to your buddy or significant other at the start line right before the race start.
Another thing, dont eat ANYTHING in the 30min before race start, you dont need it. Digesting will take blood away from your muscles that need it to make you go fast! Its a short event, you should have more than enough energy stored in your body to propel you through the race without having to consume additional food. The old Gu at the start line routine before a criterium, time trail or cross race really doesn’t do anything for you, and might actually slow you down due to the decrease in blood flow from your legs. Of course, there is the side to things where the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, shutting down your digestion whether or not theres food in there, thus sending blood flow from your stomach back to your legs when you start racing. If this is the case, your going to have food just sitting there waiting to cause cramps or extra trips to the porta johns before the race. In the hour before the race starts, stay away from solid food, maybe a gel in the first 20min of your warm up if you really feel you need an extra kick(again, the extra kick is mostly a mental thing, sort of a placebo effect), but nothing after that. My best crits, TTs & cross races where the ones where I went into them being a little bit hungry. Eat a good breakfast 3 hours before the event, but dont really eat anything until after the race at that point. A few small snacks up to 1hr before the race, but in the final hour of prep before the race I think its best to avoid eating if you can. You aren’t gonna bonk in a cross race unless you haven’t eaten anything that day, and your going to have a smoother blood sugar level with no food in the stomach, which means you’ve got premium gas in the tank and not diesel.
This does exclude hydration, I think its good to stay hydrated right up until the race start, and if your race is longer than 30min, take a big swig a few minutes before your start and it will slowly be distributed as its needed. Be sure to be continually sucking down a water bottle through your warm up. It wont cause the same problems unused food will in your stomach during the race, and if your in a race with no water bottles, being more hydrated than the next guy is gonna be a good thing for you.
Keep tuned for more tips, or shoot me a message if you have questions!