If you have missed your usual fix of bike racing this summer and are now thinking about racing cyclocross this winter (especially so your extra lockdown fitness doesn’t go to waste) then there are a few fundamental skills that I highly recommend practicing before your first event.
Cyclocross races start with a sprint! The main difference between this sprint and probably any other sprint you have done before is the fact that you have to start with one foot on the ground. The first VELD tip would be to choose a starting gear which is hard enough so that you don’t have to change gear within the first 5-6 pedal revolutions, but easy enough so that you can accelerate quickly.
Secondly, pedal position. This involves two VELD tips: Firstly, the correct crank angle is needed to provide enough leverage to pull away quickly. If you’re looking at the crank set as a clock face, somewhere around 2 o clock would be a good starting point (slightly lower if starting up hill). The second angle to worry about is the angle of the pedal on its spindle. This angle differs from rider to rider, so practice is needed to see what works for you so that the pedal comes around to meet your foot in the correct way. If you have a consistent angle which you practice with, the chance of getting clipped in first time significantly increases!
For most people, starting with your dominant foot clipped in will work the best but give it a go the other way around just to make sure.
You can start either in the saddle or off the saddle, both are valid. I prefer to start off the front of the saddle and get a really good push with my standing foot as the gun goes. Hand position should be on the hoods for a stable position where you can easily change gear quickly.
There will be a lot more tips and some videos coming soon from VELD coaching as the cyclocross season fast approaches.
If you have any questions about possible coaching, don’t hesitate to get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org