With ‘cross clinics underway across the country, newbies and experienced riders both have an opportunity to learn and refine ‘cross skills from the experts. Two riders, Ed Miszkiewicz and Guy Smith share their past clinic experiences with you to help you decide if you can benefit from attending one yourself. Looking for one in your area? Check our massive online calendar. Also see our coach’s perspective on ‘cross clinics, posted earlier. (These reports were initially reported in our premier print Issue 1.)

Ready to Cross by Endurance Performance Training Centers : A Rider’s Perspective

By Ed Miszkiewicz
Location: Bay Area, CA
Coach: Clark Natwick
Attendees: 12-15

Racing experience:
1.5 seasons of cross racing experience, Master’s B racer, age: 52, no past results worth mentioning (I’m usually struggling at the back of the pack!)

Observations:

Why go to a clinic:
I’ve done some clinics before, they’re always fun, and it’s a great way to kick off the season. The clinics inspire me to push myself. On my own, it’s hard to get motivated to jump on/off the bike.

What did I learn?
We learned how to handle barriers better, especially when preparing for a run-up. We learned a lot about our bike setup…Clark went through most of the students’ bikes, and picked out both good and not so good points about them; he commented that I had a good setup, yeah! Everyone was friendly, there was a lot of joking, and yes, there was a competitive vibe at the end when we did our practice race. It was a nice group of people. Most attendees had a bit of race experience but there were a couple of newbies and some in between (like myself).

What did I learn that was surprising?
Contrary to popular belief, Clark emphasized that having a lower handlebar height (similar to a road bike) was better for handling. Racers tend to have inverted stems/high bars for a more upright position; his philosophy was that a lower center of gravity allows the front tire to dig down in the loose stuff and provides a better bite for cornering.

Was it worth the $69?

Absolutely. I had previously attended some clinics, but this was one of the best. It was great to see a former pro and U.S. National champion show us how it’s done. And at the end we received a pamphlet full of great stuff: training tips, interval routines, and race schedule.

Heard anything funny or entertaining?
Clark asked if anyone knew the roots of ‘cross. There was a variety of answers, the typical being that it was a way for racers to train in the winter, that it started in the early 1900’s in Europe, etc., but according to Clark’s story, it began with what were essentially messengers in the military during WWI. Bikes were an efficient way to ferry intelligence information between the front lines and the command post. The terrain had rough roads, or in many cases there were no roads, so what were essentially road bikes at the time were equipped with fatter tires. Ultimately riders from various troops would compete against each other.

‘Cross legend Clark Natwick will be hosting two clinics in the Bay Area, on September 6th and 7th in Mill Valley and San Mateo, respectively. Contact Endurance Performance Training Centers for more info.

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Alpenrose Cyclocross Clinic Number 1: A Rider’s Perspective

By Guy Smith

Location: Portland, OR
Coaches: Various
Price: $10
Attendees: 149(!)

Racing experience:
One season

Observations:
Since I had a free evening I really wanted to go and learn more from a hands-on approach rather than just video and magazines, and I would really like to excel more, so this season…any little bit helps!

I raced last year with no knowledge of what was required of me other than the ‘cross video I watched in the car on the way to the Alpenrose race. At this clinic we were broken into groups by skill levels and grouped with our pro instructors. Our group was led by Shannon Skerritt and Mathew Slavin, both awesome, and very patient, not only telling me what I was doing wrong but pulling me aside and giving me a demonstration on how and why I needed to correct it. I walked away from this hour and a half clinic with a much firmer grasp on the techniques I need to go even faster through the barriers and up the run-ups, more so than a whole season of just racing, drinking beer, and ringing a cowbell. I feel clinics could offer a little something for everyone! Thanks Erik Tonkin and thanks Cross Crusade!

The clinics are very social and everyone is jazzed and really in a great mood. The staff all seem to be really psyched to be there and it is just a very cool vibe. Another cool factor: if you are able to make all the clinics your name goes into a drawing for a new Kona Jake The Snake!