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Crossing over to ‘cross.

If you weren’t aware, there is this really fun thing that happens every fall all around the country. Well mostly on the East Coast and Northeast to be specific, but let’s be serious, if you are reading this than you are most likely a ‘Noreaster. This thing…its CYCLOCROSS (CX), and it’s a blast. Whether you have a background in explosive sports or are in the group of burnt out triathlete’s looking for diversification, this sport can be for you!

The beauty of CX is that there are so many ways to enjoy it.

  1. Excellent cross over application for bike handling development. Whether you are a roadie or even dare I say a triathlete, you can really step up your game up by becoming more confident and at one with your bike.
  2. Are you a very aerobic athlete who needs to work on anaerobic (explosive) power? If you are then CX will be 30-45 minutes of 5-10 second max efforts. Nothing like that to recruit some fast-twitch fiber development. Those that happen to have been blessed with the type of anaerobic power of a sprinter aren’t left out either. Instead you enter this game with a leg up on the competition. The ability to explode out of every corner can make up for technical skills that are developing and keep you in the mix of the race.
  3. Hesitant to buy a whole new bike just to do a few races in the fall? Not to be worried, CX bikes make for awesome bikes to tackle winter weather as well as taking on the amazing Adventure/Gravel rides that are popping up all over the US. Let’s be serious though, you’ll do 2 or 3 races and be hooked.
  4. Hate traffic, cars and bad drivers? None of that on the beautiful parks, farms and off-road expanses where CX races are held.
  5. Sick of going to races where your family and friends only get to see you 1 or 2 times in the span of multiple hours? None of that in CX either. Courses and venues are spectator friendly. Beer gardens, food carts and seeing your racer multiple times each lap make it a can’t miss experience. One of the few athletic events where a Mom, Dad and Child can all compete on the same day and each one would have the others there to watch them. That’s pretty cool.

Those are just a few fun examples I provide to show how cyclocross can be for any type of athlete, coming from any type of athletic background. In the end, what I really want to communicate is that cyclocross is not something to shy away from simply because you think you do not have any bike handling skills or aren’t particularly good at short all out efforts. Many different approaches can be taken in CX racing.

Racers can have great explosion and stay with the race leaders because they never get gapped coming out of tight turns or steep inclines. They simply have to survive the flat, long power sections in the draft and put themselves in a position to sprint for the win or that top 10 they are seeking. On the flip side, you can come from an endurance sport background where you can’t sprint to save your life, but you have an FTP that no one in your race can match. In this circumstance, you tackle the race by going hard right from the gun. Remember, the race is most likely 30-45 minutes in length and even at its longest it is a whole hour. Those aerobic athletes probably have the ability to hold the same max effort for that entire duration, while the “sprinters” are going to tire out even in a 30-minute event. USE YOUR ADVANTAGE! Hard from the gun, get to the front and exploit every section where its power pedaling. Survive the technical parts and try to slowly increase your gaps (or make up time on the leaders) each lap. In either case you use what you are best at and subconsciously have worked on your weaknesses. It’s truly a WIN-WIN.

~Matt Curbeau, The Cycling Formula Operations Director

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