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  1. #1
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    Start Line Launching

    I'm looking to get clipped in and racing better off the start line. I am a good sprinter. But I am working to optimize getting off the line, clipped in. Sometimes I fumble around and lose seconds towards the hole shot.

    Do you have a favorite position of your legs, the bike, and what do you practice to get your off leg in immediately with no fiddling around?

  2. #2
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    I start with my non-dominant foot in pedal (the one you would not kick a ball with if you had a choice) @ about 2 o'clock. Brakes locked putting pressure on pedal -then letting go of brakes @ start. (I hope letting go of brake part is obvious)

    I just think more about putting pressure on pedal first - then getting clipped in.

    Practice starts first to find right gear to start in (grass start, hard pack, etc.). You may want try to start in a gear or two harder then what you think you may need - to give you more time to get foot on / clip in.

    Practice, practice.

    If using spd's it helps if I put some thin chain lube on cleat/ pedal area

  3. #3
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    You need to be sure that when the pedal comes around for your unclipped foot, the pedal will be ready to be clipped in. If the unclipped pedal is vertical, you won't be able to clip in. If it's horizontal, your chances are much better. Here's what I do:

    I clip in and get dominant foot in starting position (2 o'clock as previous poster said). Then I spin the cranks around until unclipped pedal is in 2 o'clock position, and then I position the unclipped pedal so it is basically horizontal. Then I carefully spin the crank back around to the dominant foot in 2 o'clock position and make nervous jokes until the start whistle.
    I'm not a great starter, but that has helped. I also try to position myself next to or behind notoriously fast starters and suck their wheel.
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  4. #4
    LMN
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    I am really good starter (one of the few things I am good at). In some cross races I have moved up from a 70th call up to the top 10 by the first turn. Getting in my pedal or not seems to have no impact on my start.

    A start lasts about 30 seconds and breaks into three phases.
    1. An initial sprint of about 10 seconds.
    2. A float of 15 seconds where you hold your position.
    3. A second sprint of 5 seconds to move up or hold your current position.

    If you miss your pedal things changes things. Your "float" comes earlier (you have to ease off to find the pedal) and the second sprint is longer and earlier. If you do it right missing the pedal has no effect on your start at all.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  5. #5
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    The guy who won the hole shot in the Comp/SS division (between Cat 1 & Cat 2) at one of the races last summer did it by track standing at the start line.

    I don't think that will work for everyone.

  6. #6
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    Well that did not help. One says dominant, one says non-dominant foot to be clipped in first.

    Personally I prefer to start with the dominant foot clipped in. In case I cannot clip in immediately with the other foot, I am at least powering with my dominant foot and not floundering too much. But that is just me. I am not a great starter. Even with a good warm up I have a bit of adrenaline dump and have to be careful.
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  7. #7
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    I'm a pretty good starter, but I need to get a little better, in mtb this year I have been getting stuck behind 5 or 6 guys who are more aggressive off the line but don't quite have it after a half mile (my group is usually 30-35 guys). I was getting the hole shot at my last cx race last fall (in a group of about 45) but somehow dropped my chain and one foot came out; some mix of too aggressive and a rookie mistake... then I was able to pass about 40 riders for a 5th, -fun to do all that passing but not as efficient as staying on the front.
    I've been practicing a 'hard starts'; I start seated, left toe on the ground, right/dominant foot clipped in, pedal about halfway up from horizontal. Then start very fast and go hard for about 2 minutes, do something like that every time you work out. On the way home from my local trails I usually have to wait at a crosswalk, which has a 2 minute stretch of slightly uphill, that is working for me for a practice start area.
    At a race during the countdown I do some deep breathing, which seem to help me, but I don't see anybody else doing that in my group.

  8. #8
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    Be confident and assertive. Dont be afraid to take someones line and squeeze into open gaps. Make sure you are loud and verbal so you dont cause any accidents or close calls.

    As for getting into your pedal, practice! I aim my unclipped pedal "plaform" directly at my head when in the starting position. As my right leg drops, the left pedal turns completely flat for quick entry. I still miss the pedal 80% of the time, you just have to play a little catchup on the next pedal stroke.
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  9. #9
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    On a side note, proper gear selection is key to a good start also. Depending on grade and type of terrain/dirt, gearing will vary.

    You will always need a few pedal strokes before any shifting.

    Choose wisely.

    .02

  10. #10
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    Among my very mediocre skills in both mtn and CX, the one thing I can do is start. I know that I'll bleed positions during the race, so I go into every start trying to grab whatever positions I can get.

    As others have already mentioned, practice goes a long way. For me, it's easy to over-think the whole process of getting clipped in, shifting, etc. So you're better off doing your over-thinking in practice. I also start with my non-dominant foot clipped in, and I am seated in the saddle with one foot toeing the ground. I find the pedal quicker with my butt in the saddle, instead of standing and cliping in. As I push off I quickly clip in my dominant foot, stand, and sprint like crazy. But I reached this technique through trial-and-error during practice.

    The other thing I find helpful is to break down your starts into clipping in, then sprinting. Practice each of these seperately for a while. For your clip-in, practice just getting clipped in followed by a couple of quick pedal strokes, then repeat. Work on the sprinting part by jumping from a very slow rolling start, and work on your gear selection and power. Then put it all together.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    I am really good starter (one of the few things I am good at). In some cross races I have moved up from a 70th call up to the top 10 by the first turn.

    A start lasts about 30 seconds and breaks into three phases.
    1. An initial sprint of about 10 seconds.
    2. A float of 15 seconds where you hold your position.
    3. A second sprint of 5 seconds to move up or hold your current position.
    G**damn, you got my blood pumping just reading that. Can't wait for the fall!!!
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  12. #12
    go vegan!
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    I use to be horrible at starts but like others say, practice!

    I found a nice spot that lead up to a gradual climb. I did 2min race effort x 2min recovery intervals.
    At the beginning of each interval I would treat it like a race start including the 10 second count down. Do this for awhile and I guarantee you will see improvements.

  13. #13
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    Make all of your recovery rides road routes with lots of stoplights.
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  14. #14
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    If you have the opportunity, take your mountain bike and race cross for a season. After that, getting into the pedals will not be an issue.

  15. #15
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    I'm having problems with my starts but I'm blaming it on my 2.3kg wheels with big trail tires (2.4 ardent in front with a 2.2 mountain king in back)... Definitely need a second, and lighter wheelset...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    I am not a great starter.
    Nothing like good solid advice....

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