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The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 10.29.14. “Quip in & go”

Howdy folks,

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about a topic that’s been coming up in conversations with coaching clients and in clinic sessions a fair bit lately.

Starts.

Right off the bat, I’ll get this out of the way; if your shoes & pedals aren’t working well, you aren’t going to be able to start worth a damn.

Make sure you can clip yer damn shoes into yer damn pedals, and that you can do it even when there’s a crap-load of mud stuck to your shoes.

Here’s a tip: cut the front of the lugs on the cleat area of your shoe at a 60-70 degree angle so that they form a guide path for your pedal/cleat interface.

Check out how, in the pic below, the lug shaping has made it so that even with a sole crammed full of mud, the pathway to the cleat is clear. Heck, in this case things are working so well that the mud has actually taken on the shape of the treat pattern and reinforced the pathway to the cleat…

1014475_391383584295356_1164503190_n

 

Pretty cool, eh?

Definitely worth the time and effort to do if you’re having problems, it works really darn well.

(modifications like this are best done using a Dremel Tool and a sanding drum or an Xacto saw.)

If you want/need to read a whole bunch of me babbling about the biomechanics of clipping into and out of your pedals before we continue, check out this link.

Got that all digested?

OK.

Onward!

So, about those starts…

– Above all, you need to practice them.

Every time I do my openers the day before a race, I finish the workout with a set of start efforts – from a dead stop, one foot on the ground – and I don’t end the ride until I get five in a row absolutely perfect, no bobbles.

There were times back in the day when that wound up being a long, frustrating way to end a workout, trust me!

Totally worth it, though.

Make these starts part of your routine, and not only do you get better at the skill, you gain confidence in it.

Being confident in a skill is every bit as important as having the skill.

You can’t afford to worry about being able to clip in at the start of the race, there are simply too many other things you need to be thinking about.

– Start with your pedals at 3&9 o’clock, not 12 and six.

It might take some practice if you’re used to starting with your pedals ant closer to 6 & 12, but it really is better and faster.

Every gate start event does it this way, and they do it for a reason, eh?

 Associated Press photo by Ricardo Mazalan.

See what I mean?

– Do I start with my butt on the saddle or off it?

It depends.

Both ways work, and you need to give them both a shot to figure out which is best for you.

Today in practice, alternate.

I’m a butt-on-saddle guy myself, but it took a bunch of practice to get it down and with my stubby little legs, I’m literally on the very tip of my toes with the grounded foot at the start of a race.

In retrospect, teetering on a precarious tippy-toe might not be the best idea in the chaos of a starting grid, but it’s worked pretty darn well for me over the years, so I’m committed.

If you’re not so committed, though?
Now’s the time.

Figure out what works for you, and put some time into it to be sure, because once you decide, and put the practice reps in, you ain’t likely walking that choice back.

– Starting with hands in the drops vs. hands on the hoods? Ditto all the above.

You’ve just got to try it both ways and see what works.

There aren’t many top crossers who start in the drops anymore, but not so long ago, this was a pretty common choice for the fastest guys off the line.

Try it, it might wind up working for you.

– The start of a Cross race, despite everything you may have heard, isn’t all about the first 10 meters of the race.

Let me repeat that: The start of a Cross race, despite everything you may have heard, isn’t all about the first 10 meters of the race.

Here’s how the start of a Cross goes…

The gun sounds.

Everyone clips in and immediately starts to sprint up to speed, out of the saddle.

Someone (or lots of someones…) blows their start. They get passed, quickly.

People are shifting up gears, starting to sit down in the saddle.

Someone who started way in the back blows by almost everybody on the outside.

There’s a very short pause in the acceleration, almost as if everyone takes a breath…

Bang! There’s a second acceleration, a sprint just  before or as the group leaves the starting straight.

If you want to be good at your starts, you need to master this second acceleration. You must to be able to go even harder than your first, out of the gate effort mere seconds later.

How do you develop this ability?

Yup.

Practice.

So, with all this talk of practice, on with today’s workout…

 

Mostly Getting Started – 

1 – warm up for 10 minutes.

2 – Stretch out after you’re warm.

Pay special attention to all the muscles used in those movements you make hopping on and off the bike that are different from what you usually do.

3 – Dismount/remount  skills for 5-10-15 minutes (depends how rusty you are. Do more of these, less of everything else if you need to.)

– Start at literally a walking pace, and slowly increase speed until you can mount and dismount the bike smoothly and perfectly at full speed. Do not jump on and off the bike, you are looking to smoothly slide yourself on and off.

 Need a refresher on the basics? Click here.

Do just the most  basic dismount/remount as per above until you have it wired, smooth at all speeds. When you are feeling confident, add some barriers to the session…

– Again, start at a super, super slow speed.

– Approach the barrier, dismount smooth as silk.

– Step over the barrier, paying attention to how you lift the bike, and how you place your feet.

– Remount. Again, think smoooooth….

– Start with a single barrier, move to a double, and keep going slow until you have things wired. Then, speed things up until you aren’t smooth, back it down 1 notch, and make it smooth.

(If you don’t have barriers, anything will do. Use a log, put a stick on the ground – whatever.)

 

4 – Starts.

Just like the beginning of a race. One foot on the ground, dead standstill, get-up-and-go.

Begin with a few medium effort starts, working on all the things we talked about above.

Remember…

– Start with your pedals at 3&9 o’clock, not 12 and six.

– Alternate butt-on-saddle and off

– Alternate hands in drops with hands on hoods.

When you start to get the feel for things, hit it hard a couple of times, then back off.

2 sets of all the variations above at a medium to slow pace.

Feeling solid, skills-wise?

Nice.

Get  yourself ready to go hard.

– Bang! Six full-gas starts.

– short effort, just go long enough that you are up to full speed, then back down, turn around, go again.

Spin easy for a couple of minutes, then…

– Bang! ~pause~ Bang!

– Six full-gas starts, but each start effort will look like this…

– Full effort start from a dead-stop, foot on ground.

– As soon as you get up to full speed, sit back in saddle, take one deep breath, go again, HARD!

– Ouch.

5 – Recover for a few minutes, then Finish the night with two interval efforts on relatively easy terrain.

– “Easy” as in a loop on grass with some tight-ish turns on it, or some pretty buffed double-track.

– Go hard, and work on accelerations out of the turns.

– Every time you slow down entering a turn, get on the gas on the way out of it, ass out of the saddle, working hard.

– 6 minutes full gas, rest for 2 minutes, then go again for 5.

– Start each effort with, well… with a start. Like you were working on a couple of minutes ago…

Warm down, go home, relax.

Enjoy!

 

**********

Hey there…

Thanks for following my blog!

This thing started off as a lark, and over the years that I’ve been doing it, has become a little bit of a monster.

It takes a fair bit of time – and a wee bit of money – to keep this thing rolling, and as you may have noticed, I’ve recently started asking for folks to chip in a bit if they feel like what they’re getting her is worth something to them.

Honestly, it’s not like I’m trying to get rich off this here thing… or really even make any money from it at all.

It’d just make my life a fair bit easier if I didn’t lose quite as much money doing this as I currently do.

So, hey… if you feel like you’ve gotten anything of value out of this blog, please do me a favor – and yes, it’s a favor, and I will be truly thankful for it – and send a buck or two (or five, or whatever…) my way.

How do you do that?

Simply click on the graphic below, and PayPal will be glad to make it happen.

 

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~ by crosssports on October 29, 2014.

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