This week, the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld Professional and Development Team traveled to Cannondale's headquarters in Connecticut for their preseason preparation for the long season ahead.
Their week started before I arrived to the scene, with the group getting immersed into the side of the bike industry that racers don't often see. Everyone from Tim Johnson to Harrison White got to meet with the sales reps, accountants and the other folks who ensure that the business side of the brand is running smoothly. The following days were filled with technique training, riding, team building exercises and dialing in the elements of their cyclocross bike before the season begins.
Use the slider below to look at how one of the largest professional cyclocross teams in the United States gets ready for the season.
Let the Drills Begin
Even in the course warm-ups, Johnson found ways to get riders into the racing mentality. The two teams rode as one group at a much slower speed than race pace through the course, but the rider in last place had to find inventive ways to wind their way through corners to move to the front. This usually meant that riders had to go beyond just using the perfect racing line while their legs were warming up.
Afterward, the team went to a few more technical corners of the course to remind themselves both of the fundamentals and advanced topics. They hunted for the racing line in loose dirt while looking out the exit, but they also sought to tackle a steep run-up that would be difficult to ride. The purpose of the latter drill was not a bragging contest to see who could climb the full length of the hill, but rather a discovery of one’s limits. The team members who were able to either anticipate slipping or commit to the run at a certain place on the climb were able to move through the obstacle the quickest, while riders who simply reacted to the conditions took longer.
One of the more challenging drills was winding through an extremely tight section in the back woods. While most of the riders could storm through it blindfold, Johnson added a major challenge: no one was allowed to coast at any time. Even with riders getting into their lowest gears, everyone was forced to pick exaggerated lines in order to stay within the course tape while they constantly pedaled.