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  1. #1
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    Combining cx and xc racing.

    At this point of the year I always am in full planning mode for the coming 12 months.
    Currently I知 still in my cx season, just one more key race to go with the final round of the UK National Trophy (vet 40+) next weekend. I知 an ok racer with results of low twenties and one fifteenth in this series. I知 also an ok xc racer who can usually be reasonably near the top of regional xc and mtb marathon racing.
    Anyway, enough of the back story, I知 now looking forward.

    I知 planning on finishing cx on 21st Jan then going pretty well straight into endurance training for a 3 day mtb stage race on 10th May (the change in training style will be a breath of fresh air as I prepare for the Bemc with the emphasis on five hour performance rather than 45 min)

    After this stage race I plan to take a proper break of 4-6 weeks before resuming hard training using xc racing over July and Aug to prepare for the 2018 cx season.

    I do have a coach who is very good, but I like going into discussions with my own ideas and aspirations. By the age of 43 you kind of know what痴 going to work for you mentally.

    As a long time follower of this forum I壇 value your opinions and experience too, I love the depth of knowledge from you guys.

    I知 at that point in my racing career where I知 good but not great and not getting much better so would welcome some out of the box thinking.

    I don稚 do weights at all by the way, so that may be a new avenue, however my knees and ankles are feeling the years (I知 a gardener by trade so have spent my whole life on my feet). I知 also a good climber, weigh 71 kg at 511 and generate around 310-320w for 20 mins on the flat.

    I壇 appreciate any advice and ideas as I persue the dream of National top ten in mtb and cx in the old but still ridiculously fast vet 40 category.

  2. #2
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    I, too, added a CX series to the end of my XC series this year. My aim was mostly to use the CX racing as additional training for XC, but it turns out I'm better at CX due to my strengths (anaerobic capacity), weaknesses (technical handling), physiology (low cadence, high force preference) and risk tolerance (lower). Seems like a much larger gap to bridge in your case combining endurance MTB with CX? My XC races are generally 60-90 minutes, max.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by steelhmr View Post
    I, too, added a CX series to the end of my XC series this year. My aim was mostly to use the CX racing as additional training for XC, but it turns out I'm better at CX due to my strengths (anaerobic capacity), weaknesses (technical handling), physiology (low cadence, high force preference) and risk tolerance (lower). Seems like a much larger gap to bridge in your case combining endurance MTB with CX? My XC races are generally 60-90 minutes, max.
    I don稚 think endurance mtb is that far removed from cyclocross and xc, it痴 all riding a bike and mtb marathons are generally decided on the climbs which are usually 3- 5 mins, much the same as putting in a fast lap at cx.
    Incidentally I regard cx as requiring more technical ability than mtb with a lot more risk. I致e had a lot of crashes training and racing cx, it痴 par for the course but luckily have got away with only the odd sore elbow and knee.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by grawp View Post
    I don稚 think endurance mtb is that far removed from cyclocross and xc, it痴 all riding a bike and mtb marathons are generally decided on the climbs which are usually 3- 5 mins, much the same as putting in a fast lap at cx.
    That 3-5 minute MTB climb will be mostly a steady state effort where your average power output will be at or above FTP. The CX lap will be a dynamic effort with several micro sprints where you vary between Zone 6&7 and Zone 1, and probably some time in every Zone between. While the average power of the two efforts may be similar, the process of getting there is quite different. Then there is the difference between a 1hr and 5hr(?) race.

    Quote Originally Posted by grawp View Post
    Incidentally I regard cx as requiring more technical ability than mtb with a lot more risk. I致e had a lot of crashes training and racing cx, it痴 par for the course but luckily have got away with only the odd sore elbow and knee.
    I agree with much of this, and perhaps I should better define what I meant. CX certainly has high technical demands and, anecdotally, I crashed more often in CX. That being said, the penalty for CX crashes is generally much lower than XC in my experience. Crashing into grass/mud doesn't carry the same fear/consequences as crashing into rocks/trees in XC.

    N=1, but I lost a ~1hr XC race by 1:30 that was rocky and technical, but still had a fair bit of climbing (which favored me). In the less technical XC race (~90 min) and CX races (~45 min) I won both by 4:00 over the same competitor. That's the gap in my own technical XC skills that is less present, or at least less consequential, in CX. That's my experience, anyway.

  5. #5
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    I race CX for:
    Fun
    Work on going hard out the gate.

    My biggest weakness, other than being slow, is I don't like to go out hard in races. It's fine in a classic format. But when there is an 80% rule, you have to go out hard. CX is so short you don't get much time to ramp up, so I use it to work on going out hard.

    I watched two guys battle it out hard this season in my class (35+ Masters A). One is a powerful roadie, the other a less powerful but technically skilled MTB'er. They ended the season tied in points.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I race CX for:
    Fun
    Work on going hard out the gate.

    My biggest weakness, other than being slow, is I don't like to go out hard in races. It's fine in a classic format. But when there is an 80% rule, you have to go out hard. CX is so short you don't get much time to ramp up, so I use it to work on going out hard.

    I watched two guys battle it out hard this season in my class (35+ Masters A). One is a powerful roadie, the other a less powerful but technically skilled MTB'er. They ended the season tied in points.
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  7. #7
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    This past season I had my best CX results so far as a 50+ rider in the super tough 45+ open group. This is what was different this season:

    1. Built to a season maximum CTL (85) via a recreational biking tour in late Aug (20 hour biking week).
    2. Took significant time off bike in Sept (about 9 day vacation).
    3. When I got back from vacation, started training simultaneously for a 50K MTB race (ugh) and a 5K run that were on consecutive weekends (my wife and I were doing the 5K together as a couples thing).
    4. Started integrating weight lifting right after vacation (I'd figure why not get started lifting if I'm gonna suck anyway).

    Turned out to be my best CX season ever!! (Two top tens with a full field (8th and 10th), which is outstanding for me). (BTW, won the 50+AG 5K with a sub 22 min run).

    I found that the weightlifting added some much needed core strength (CX requires a lot of it) and from the extensive run training I ran and recovered much faster/easier after each CX run.

    The only problem is that the more riding involved, the worst I did in that particular CX race. Courses with lots running I did significantly better.

    I guess this goes with the notion that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over (season after season) and expecting different results". Maybe it's good to change things up.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Ben and ...?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    I guess this goes with the notion that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over (season after season) and expecting different results". Maybe it's good to change things up.

    I'm bringing running back into my training this years, starting yesterday. I could feel how weak my core was even after that short run. Hopefully it helps! Sub 22 is pretty fast for a cyclist!

  9. #9
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    I race both, and I don't really train differently, except for adding run-ups and barrier practice. I added more road miles and improvised squats over the summer in hopes of improving power overall, I did a bit better this fall than previous years (cat1/2 45+). I think the added power will certainly help me in mtb which starts in about 3.5 weeks. One of my friends I race cx with does a lot of long road rides, including those grand fondos, he and I train very differently but we're pretty close in cx, but he did beat me more often than I beat him. I usually do better in xc than cx, but we'll see in just a few weeks!
    Yes, cx starts are insane, but great practice for xc starts.
    carry clippers! cut something off the trail every time you ride.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I'm bringing running back into my training this years, starting yesterday. I could feel how weak my core was even after that short run. Hopefully it helps!
    From some tricks and tips I've read from Adam Myerson, he said to delay running till after your primary season is done then integrate two a days (bike/run) to get ready for CX. He said nothing is worst for your cycling than running , but gives better overall performance for CX for sure.

    One of my good friends was coached by Jonathan Page (he lived a little while in our town) and she was surprised by how much he had her run (2-3 miles a day from what I remember). She nearly got a top ten at Pro CX Nationals that year.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    From some tricks and tips I've read from Adam Myerson, he said to delay running till after your primary season is done then integrate two a days (bike/run) to get ready for CX. He said nothing is worst for your cycling than running , but gives better overall performance for CX for sure.

    One of my good friends was coached by Jonathan Page (he lived a little while in our town) and she was surprised by how much he had her run (2-3 miles a day from what I remember). She nearly got a top ten at Pro CX Nationals that year.
    I have a big tri goal this year. There is a popular tri here in California (Wildflower) that was canceled last year due to NO LAKE! I've done one or more of the courses every year since my first race in 2012, except the Long Course (70.3). I want to do that course at least once before climate change makes it permanently extinct (event has been around nearly 40 years). So even though I primarily race XC, I only live once and I want to give this race everything I've got. That means I'm aiming for a 7 min/mile half marathon time on a hilly, trail course! I'm planning two short workouts on Mon/Wed, and a hard one on weekends (on top of the cycling I'm already doing). Add in swimming a couple times a week, once I get a gym membership.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sidewalk View Post
    I have a big tri goal this year. There is a popular tri here in California (Wildflower) that was canceled last year due to NO LAKE! I've done one or more of the courses every year since my first race in 2012, except the Long Course (70.3). I want to do that course at least once before climate change makes it permanently extinct (event has been around nearly 40 years). So even though I primarily race XC, I only live once and I want to give this race everything I've got. That means I'm aiming for a 7 min/mile half marathon time on a hilly, trail course! I'm planning two short workouts on Mon/Wed, and a hard one on weekends (on top of the cycling I'm already doing). Add in swimming a couple times a week, once I get a gym membership.
    That's awesome. When I won that 5K, friends were telling me I should get into triathlons, but man, that's a pretty serious crowd there. I was looking at a local sprint turkey tri last fall and the run times were insane. Some 50 yr olds were sub 20 in the 5K before biking and swimming (winter format). The younger guys were sub 18!

    I'll probably give one a go too. Tons of sprint tri's in my area as well as an Xterra 20 minutes away.

  13. #13
    LMN
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    The biggest mistake that people make is to try and carry CX fitness into mountain bike season. Generally they are good early on, and then get rapidly worse as the season progresses. Just look at Mr. Vander Poel last year.

    I would recommend taking a 2 weeks really easy at the end of CX season and then really start to ramp your training. If you have stagnated then you need to make a change in your training. Lots of ways to do that, strength is an option if you have done it.

    My experience is that most people benefit from increasing their volume. I don稚 know how much you currently train, but I would suggest
    1. Adding consistency. Train 5 days a week.
    2. Adding volume. A motivated working person in the right circumstance can manage up to 15hrs a week. The weekly hours that is optimal for you is very individual and you and your coach would have to figure that out.
    3. Adding a really long ride once a week. Big days work, they really work. Over a 6 week period try and build up to the point where a 4-5hr ride doesn稚 absolutely nuke you.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Poncharelli View Post
    That's awesome. When I won that 5K friends were telling me I should get into triathlons, but man, that's a pretty serious crowd there. I was looking at a local sprint turkey tri last fall and the run times were insane. Some 50 yr olds were sub 20 in the 5K before biking and swimming (winter format)! The younger guys were sub 18!
    Hey, why suck at one sport when you can suck at three?

    They do beer hand ups at Wildflower, and one of the long course aid stations is manned by drunk nudists. It's a very serious race for the pro's with a big prize purse ($40,000 for first place in 2011). But it also has the reputation of "The Woodstock of Triathlon".

    2014 Wildflower Race Report | Leap Day Sports

    I've done one Xterra so far. If that is any indication, consider it an off road tri and not really a mountain bike try. I think I have my fork locked for 90% of the course. The run course was brutal though!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    The biggest mistake that people make is to try and carry CX fitness into mountain bike season. Generally they are good early on, and then get rapidly worse as the season progresses. Just look at Mr. Vander Poel last year.

    I would recommend taking a 2 weeks really easy at the end of CX season and then really start to ramp your training. If you have stagnated then you need to make a change in your training. Lots of ways to do that, strength is an option if you have done it.

    My experience is that most people benefit from increasing their volume. I don稚 know how much you currently train, but I would suggest
    1. Adding consistency. Train 5 days a week.
    2. Adding volume. A motivated working person in the right circumstance can manage up to 15hrs a week. The weekly hours that is optimal for you is very individual and you and your coach would have to figure that out.
    3. Adding a really long ride once a week. Big days work, they really work. Over a 6 week period try and build up to the point where a 4-5hr ride doesn稚 absolutely nuke you.
    I was hoping you'd reply LMN.

    You've pretty well detailed my plan; 2 weeks off then ramp hard for the stage race in May. Last year I got to 100ctl in May by doing around 15hrs/wk. I can handle 4-6hr mtb rides no problem and do one 4hr ride a week even during the cx season as I feel it improves my efficiency on the bike. Again I handle 5 days a week no problem but 6 doesn't work for me. I tend to do a 3 day block and a 2 day block each week off season, then 4 days on, rest day, race day, rest day, during the cx season.

    The big change for me then would be from May onward. Previous years I've just carried on training but from June onward my motivation starts to wain so by the time cx season starts my ctl is usually down to about 70. Although a lot of this is due to increased specificity and hence reduced volume, my mental fortitude is starting to ebb too early in the cx season.
    This year I'm wondering if I took a serious break from 15th May for 4-6 weeks to fully recharge my mental batteries before embarking on a dedicated and progressive cx buildup, I could reach new heights by really commiting to a program of testing and progressive training. I could also fit in around 4 xc races into this build period for motivation/hard workouts, but my main emphasis is cx as it seems to suit me (I'm just breaking into the top twenty now at Nationals (V40+).

    It's a big step to stop riding for over a month mid-summer and my coach may well suggest some high intensity work to maintain VO2 max ability but I need to try something different as my performance has pretty well plateaued. Do you think this might work?

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