Although Cyclo-cross courses are less technical than those of Cross Country Mountain Biking, each particular obstacle requires specific technical abilities of competitors. The power of the rider is generally higher over the whole duration of a 'cross race to overcome greater amounts of rolling resistance from loose dirt or grass. Also common are steps, barriers, ditches, stairs, steep slopes and very deep mud or sand which all require running while carrying the bicycle.
Although getting off and on a bike sounds simple, doing so in the middle of a quick-paced race is difficult. Being able to fluidly dismount at speed, pick up and carry the bike, then put it back down and remount smoothly without losing momentum requires practice and skill, as the competitor may do this dozens of times every race. A faulty or slow dismount/remount may cost valuable seconds, waste energy or cause yourself to crash.
PCS has a strong understanding of how these principles should be developed for Cyclocross events incorporating them into our Cyclo-cross –CX specific training programs to improve your overall performance in these fast and furious events.
Races almost universally consist of many laps over a short course, ending when a time limit is reached rather than after a specific number of laps or certain distance; the canonical length for senior events is one hour, with 30 and 45 minute races for lower categories being the norm. Generally each lap is around 2.5-3.5 km and is 90% ride able.
A variety of terrain is typical, ranging from roads to paths with short steep climbs, off camber sections, lots of corners and, a defining feature, sections where the rider may need, or would be best advised to dismount and run while carrying the bike. Under-tire conditions include asphalt, hard pack dirt, grass, mud and sand. In comparison to cross-country mountain bike events, terrain is smoother. Less emphasis is put on negotiating rough or even rocky ground with more stress on increased speed and negotiating different types of technical challenges.
Cyclo-Cross Training with PCS
Regardless of the specialist discipline you choose, the training year will typically consist of a general preparation, specific preparation and a competition phase and off-season, with the length of each phase dependent on the competitive schedule of individual athletes. For Cyclo-cross riders the focus of the pre-season is to develop a large endurance base, which they will aim to maintain during the season. During the specific preparation phase shorter and more intense efforts are required to increase anaerobic capacity and lactate tolerance. Regardless of the discipline, all riders need to develop the technical skills to be able to control and stabilise their bikes on the various off-road terrains they encounter and a certain percentage of the training time will be specifically on skill development.