The Cyclocross Workout Of The Day for Wednesday, 10.25.17. “Hoppy Redux”

Howdy folks,


I’m still working on the off-camber technique post, I promise. It just ain’t ready yet. Sigh.

So, alternate plan today.

We switched the Seattle area Cyclocross workouts to Tuesday night as of last night, and the topic of the class – after multiple requests – wound up being… hopping the planks.

The local race featured a set of mini-barriers this past weekend, and folks were hopping – or perhaps more accurately trying to hop them – with varying degrees of success.

Frankly, I love this.

Hopping the planks is a big part of contemporary cross skills, and at the top of the sport, if you can’t do it you’re at a significant disadvantage.

Oddly enough, I wrote about this last season.

So, hey… here’s that post from last season…



You might have seen the post I wrote on Monday in which I linked to this vid of the Flandriencross…

…and wrote:

Hold on to your hat, Wout actually hops the barriers!

Did I mention that Wout hopped the barriers?

Thank god.

Frankly, this is one of the things he really needs to add to his skill set.

Stay tuned, we’re going to talk about this on Wednesday.

Well, it’s Wednesday, and we’re going to talk about it.

So, Wout. Barrier hopping, or lack thereof.

First, let’s get this out of the way; Wout is f***ing awesome.

Seriously, he’s amazing. Watching him ride away from the field at CXVegas after his fall was even more impressive in person. Some might even say “extraterrestrial.”

He ain’t perfect, though.

He lost a race this season because he was forced to run a barrier section that Michael Vanthournout could ride…

…and it’s one of his major disadvantages in straight-up competition with VdP, the only person who has proven to be consistently capable of beating him over the last couple of seasons.

So, why am I talking about this today?

Well, it’s Wednesday, and that’s Skills Day around these parts. Today we’re talking about the skill of hopping the barriers.

Let’s not beat around the bush. World Cup-level CX has changed. We’re no longer living in the days when Sven was the only one capable of hopping the planks. With where the sport is now, if you can’t get over a standard double on your bike, you’re at a disadvantage.

If you are a Junior rider, or the parent of a Junior rider, or you coach Junior riders, you damn well should be adding this skill to your repertoire.

If you’re in your 20’s, or early 30’s?

You damn well should be adding this skill to your repertoire.

If you’re older than that?

Well, what’s that they say about old dogs and new tricks?


Probably going to be an uphill battle. Still worth a try, but don’t kill yourself trying this stuff, ok?

Hey! Women aren’t excluded here!


Pauline Ferrand- Prevot has some damn good hops, and used them to great advantage as far back as her podium performance at Diegem in ’14.

So, ok. Hops-r-good, and all the smart kids should be working on them (more on this later) but…

Is there a larger point here?

I think there is.

You can be the World-freaking-Champion, one of the two best  CX riders on the planet, and still have obvious weak points and deficiencies in your technical game.

The fact that we’re suddenly seeing Wout display some hops probably isn’t a coincidence. Dollars to doughnuts he’s working on this weakness, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rolling over full-height barriers with the rest of the front group next season. If he isn’t, you can bet it isn’t because he didn’t try to work on the skill in the off-season.


The offseason!

That time when most people lock their Cross bikes in the basement, and don’t even think about them until the early summer!

Want a tip?

Don’t do that.

Ride yer damn CX bike a couple of days a week in the off-season. Use that time to work on something that you aren’t good at.

Maybe something like your hops…

What’s that you say? You’re looking for something to do today after you’ve worked on your hops a bit?

How about…

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 minutes , just ’cause.

– 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.

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.


– 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?


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 short 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.

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

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

Warm down, go home, relax.





~ by crosssports on October 25, 2017.

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