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  1. #1
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    CX race approach, what works best for you?

    Two weeks ago, went super hard from beginning, nearly getting hole shot from a non-call up position, blew up half way through first lap, got passed up by a bunch of dudes, wound up 13th at the end out of 40.

    Last weekend, took it a little easier at the beginning, settled into the back of second group of guys (10th?), pick each one off over the course of race, staying around threshold, smooth through the corners with as little braking as possible (that means coasting a little earlier), and in the final half lap, picked off final person for a finish line sprint for 4th (out of 34).

    Seems that the slower start approach worked better for me. What has worked best for you? Is CX racing a threshold power contest?
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  2. #2
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    I may have also went out a little too hard on Sunday, was up low teens but got passed by quite a few guys last lap for 19th, -which is still one better than last time. I felt maybe just a little 'off' last lap, I can usually push a bit harder but it just wasn't there. I'll get a callup next time too, I'll go out plenty hard. I think you have to go out hard and hope you are having a good day as the race progresses.

  3. #3
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    I've pretty much shuffled 'cross off my schedule. But I feel I get my own best performance when I start fast and settle into doing the whole thing right around threshold.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    I know I do better when I start a bit slower and let my lungs and legs warm up and then pick people off. Although I usually end up getting excited at the start, going off hard, feeling like I'm about to die, slowing down to recover, and then working my way back.

    In cross it's good to get towards the front of the pack by the hole shot though to avoid getting held up by wrecks in the main pack.

  5. #5
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    I've tried starting really hard too, doesnt work for me. I like to just keep a strong pace the whole race, pretty much a TT. Mid way through our race on sunday, on lap 3, I picked off 4 people on that lap alone. Letting the leaders get away kind of sucks, but, I'm going for series points and I'm not gonna win a race no matter how hard I start.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies. Looks like settling quickly into threshold mode is the way to go.

    For my own strengths and weaknesses, looks like i'm better off sucking wheels as much as possible. I am not good out in the wind, especially at high speed (I'm like a human parachute I guess). So if i can latch onto end of front group (should be easier from a call up) and hold on, then I should be able to do well in the final lap and/or final sprint.

    My turbo power is better than most, but my threshold not so much.
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  7. #7
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    I'm a better technical rider then I am at sustained raw power so I have to go out hard in the first lap to stay out front and not get caught behind the less skilled. Our courses usually have some sort of gnarly single track that makes it hard to pass on. I sprint out to about 5th then end up dropping to about 10th out of 35 by the end of the race.

    I think its mostly about how you ride. If our courses were more open and less techy I would reserve more in the beginning. I end up yo-yoing the strong guys. they sprint away on open runs and I chase them down in the tighter areas. Sum of the overall equation = they walk away. guess that means I need to start training

    364 more days to cross tryouts...gota toughen up!

  8. #8
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    I think it depends on the course. Some courses are do not have a lot of good opportunities to pass. The more technical courses suit me better as I don't have the raw power to just put the hammer down on uphills or straight-aways. In general, I have had better results coming from a few spots back than going out too hard for the hole shot and then just going backwards.

    I think the key to figure out is your strengths and the type of course on a given day.

  9. #9
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    I thought this article was good with describing power demands of CX. "Micro Burst" workout mentioned in article helped me. I do it once in middle of week, between weekend races.

    http://www.peakscoachinggroup.com/(S...yclo-Cross.pdf

  10. #10
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    I like to go out hard and blow up spectacularly - maybe minor wreck with some bruising and scrapes. Unless there is a beer hand up then I'd probably keep going

  11. #11
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    I thought about this topic a bit before last race; I was 2nd row in callups and I mostly just tried to maintain position which was about 10th, at a bit below 100% effort, through the first half lap, then I was able to do some passing. It seems like it takes a half to a full lap to re-warm up after waiting around at start. I felt quite good and had a good finish.
    I'm going to try that again: try to keep close to the leaders without losing too many spots, until I re-warm up and then see how I feel and what I can do. I will get a front row callup next time, - good starting position always helps.

  12. #12
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    Start strong, finish even stronger

  13. #13
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    Being gridded makes a huge difference to keeping a high position - I've often been in the races where the first 10 or so racers have got clean away - the pack getting held-up at the first choke-point / obstacle. By working as a group, keeping the pace constant, swinging wide for the turns and making sure you're not getting in each others way. The fitter, stronger riders eventually pulling away in to take the placings. Riding out of region and therefore not getting gridded, sometimes I've started dead-last and see how many places I can make up in a field of over 100 riders can be a bit of fun - got into the teens by the finish, but with the front riders away, almost impossible to make up ground on them.

  14. #14
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    Oh, I haven't reported back, but won my first race three weeks ago!! This was Masters 35+C group (I'm nearly 47 BTW).

    Got a callup, so front row, went hard from the beginning and got pushed out a bit, so stayed about 5 or 6th place. I eventually worked myself to the front. then about half way through the race, 3 guys attacked and got away from me, and I worked hard to make up the gap. Attacked on one of many repeated short hills, and rode off the front with one other guy.

    I'm pretty good at short hills so I tried to drop the guys I was with, but no, he was matching me on every hill and made up any gap. So it was final corner to the finish line, he got a little jump on me since he attacked from the back, and I jumped with everything I had. Turned out he was fried and could not respond, and i won by 2 bike lengths. I put a fist up in the air and yelled out, "Yaaaaahhhh, about f*#$%g time!!!!"

    After 12 starts over two seasons, Five 4th places and One 2nd place, finally got the win!!

    I always said I would be "one and done", and I'm done. Straight to B group after one win. I ain't no freakin sandbagger. At the same time, two other guys upgraded (who won several races) since they heard I moved up. Someone has to take the lead and ball up.
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 11-14-2013 at 05:36 PM.
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  15. #15
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Good on you. The win and the upgrade.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  16. #16
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    Good job!

    Congrats. Nice work on the win, and for moving up.

    I'm continually surprised by those that don't move up when they can. Personally I'd rather be midpack in a higher class then win a lower class.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    Oh, I haven't report back, but won my first race three weeks ago!! This was Masters 35+C group (I'm nearly 47 BTW).

    Got a callup, so front row, went hard from the beginning and got pushed out a bit, so stayed about 5 or 6th place. I eventually worked myself to the front. then about half way through the race, 3 guys attacked and got away from me, and I worked hard to make up the gap. Attacked on one of many repeated short hills, and rode off the front with one other guy.

    I'm pretty good at short hills so I tried to drop the guys I was with, but no, he was matching me on every hill and made up any gap. So it was final corner to the finish line, he got a little jump on me since he attacked from the back, and I jumped with everything I had. Turned out he was fried and could not respond, and i won by 2 bike lengths. I put a fist up in the air and yelled out, "Yaaaaahhhh, about f*#$%g time!!!!"

    After 12 starts over two seasons, Five 4th places and One 2nd place, finally got the win!!

    I always said I would be "one and done", and I'm done. Straight to B group after one win. I ain't no freakin sandbagger. At the same time, two other guys upgraded (who won several races) since they heard I moved up. Someone has to take the lead and ball up.

  17. #17
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    Nicely done! What's 35+C equate to?, around here we have 1/2/elite/pro racing as one group, then cat3, 4s and beginners (age groups for each).
    I'll get a front row callup on Sunday at a course I liked last year, 4th is the best I've done in cx (c3 45+, I'm 46), and that was 2 weeks ago, I'll be very happy with a top 10, and there's always that one guy you want to beat!

  18. #18
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    Nice work, Ponch!

    I agree with Acree, I prefer to finish midpack in a higher class than win lower class. I was upgraded to Cat A this year and even though I'm not yet competitive with the top riders, I much prefer the level of competition.

    Regarding call-ups, I honestly think racers place too much importance on them and act like starting mid-rear is a death sentence. Sure, it's nice to get the hole-shot, but a really strong racer can make up the difference over the course of 45 minutes to an hour. Just look at a balls-out Van Der Haar start versus an 'I don't give a f...' Nys start and see who typically prevails.

    There's also the psychological benefit of passing people as you work your way up rather than trying to hold the wheel of the fastest guy, blowing up and getting passed halfway through the race.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimPacNW View Post
    Nicely done! What's 35+C equate to?,
    In Utah, we are not a USA Cycling sanctioned sanctioned series. But we have a lot of masters classes (probably too many):
    55+
    35+C
    35+B
    45+A
    35+A

    I put it by order of overall group speed. But just like any area of the country, the bottom class is always clogged up. We have from 35-60 people racing in the 35Cs, while there's only 20-25 in the 35Bs, and only 10-12 in the 35As. One guy upgraded from 35Cs to Bs and got on the podium his first B race.

    The 45As is pretty big though, they get about 30. But I'm probably going to finish the season in the 35Bs and move to the 45As from the start of next season. The best rider in the 45's is an animal though. He wins both the 35s and 45s, and I saw he got 2nd place at CX Nationals one year with no other USA Cycling CX points (i.e. no callup).
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  20. #20
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    If the pack is big and there's one or more bottlenecks near the start, it is nearly impossible to finish well from a mid or further back start, -unless you're much faster than most of the riders. I've always found that a decent start is important, especially in a big pack, all my best finishes have been after a good strong start.
    Last season I was racing 4s (my first season back after years and years away and out of shape), I was doing better later in the season, I was getting the hole shot just off the line and feeling great, but somehow pulled a foot out and dropped my chain 50' in (I have an inner guide now), and was off the back of the 50+ pack by the time I got my chain back on. It was fun to slice and dice my way back up to 6th, but it's easy to imagine how that could have gone differently.
    Before this season started I requested and received an up from usac to C3, I know I'm quite a bit faster than a year ago, and yes, it's better to be in a group where a top ten finish is very difficult.
    It's supposed to be rainy and 40f on Sunday, I imagine the grid may be a bit smaller than a month ago when it was 60 and nicer. Last year it seemed like a lot of guys dropped out mid season as the weather got more wintery.

  21. #21
    O-h
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    Quote Originally Posted by ds2199 View Post
    I think it depends on the course.
    This and also how strong is the field.

    If the course is more of a grass crit, you need to get into the lead group or you're off the back. So you must start hard and try to make it to the front group...or a group. A lone rider is f%&&ed on fast non-technical course. If the course is more technical with maybe some climbing, then you can pace at your threshold and a strong group doesn't have such an upper hand.

  22. #22
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    Nice job Ponch. I have seen you on your Giant.
    What really has been working for me since I am recovering from a broken hip, is heading to the races with my friend and my dog. While he warms up and races, I have 5 or 6 beers, walk my dog around, while cheering my friend and others on.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilligan123 View Post
    Nice job Ponch. I have seen you on your Giant.
    What really has been working for me since I am recovering from a broken hip, is heading to the races with my friend and my dog. While he warms up and races, I have 5 or 6 beers, walk my dog around, while cheering my friend and others on.
    active recovery

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilligan123 View Post
    Nice job Ponch. I have seen you on your Giant.
    What really has been working for me since I am recovering from a broken hip, is heading to the races with my friend and my dog. While he warms up and races, I have 5 or 6 beers, walk my dog around, while cheering my friend and others on.
    Holy crap, how'd you break your hip? I had a couple of good wrecks Saturday, bruised my hip and was glad I didn't land on pavement.

    Racing in the Bs has been interesting. My engine is in the right neighborhood but I find that I'm not as skilled as those guys, especially with remounting the bike. And the racing seems a lot tighter. One little fumble and 5 guys just got by.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sizzler View Post

    Regarding call-ups, I honestly think racers place too much importance on them and act like starting mid-rear is a death sentence. Sure, it's nice to get the hole-shot, but a really strong racer can make up the difference over the course of 45 minutes to an hour. Just look at a balls-out Van Der Haar start versus an 'I don't give a f...' Nys start and see who typically prevails.
    nys definitely cares about the start are you kitten me? he knows the young bucks are gonna go for the holeshot. he's always in the first 10 riders going to the dirt to stay out of trouble at the bottlenecks. he then assesses the group and plans accordingly. #svenness

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