Johnson showed determination despite a large gap. Surf City Cyclocross Series Finale, Aptos High School, 1/10/10. ? Cyclocross Magazine

Tim Johnson sporting his National Championship Jersey @ Cyclocross Magazine

Cyclocross Magazine is proud to announce a new bi-weekly column, Ask a Pro, with 2009 national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale – While winning one National Championship is impressive enough, Tim added this year’s win to the two Elite National jerseys already adorning his wall. A seasoned pro in both road and ‘cross, he had a screaming 2009 season, taking home 11 wins and a 14th place at the World Championships in Tabor. With such an extensive record, we thought our readers would benefit from Tim’s experience and hard-earned wisdom of handling the rigors of ‘cross, so we humbly asked him if he’d join us for a Q&A column in which he tackles your mud-caked queries. Look for a new slew of insights every other week, as Tim answers what’s on your ‘cross crazy minds. Have a question for Tim? Send it to [email protected]

Follow the link for this week’s round of questions!

Tim – I’m a long time roadie with a good engine, and I love ‘cross. But, my lack of technical skills is my biggest limiter out on the course (and the cause of way too many spills!). I know that you come from a dirt background and have these techniques ingrained by now, but what do you recommend that a guy like me does to become proficient, or maybe even good, at handling the technical aspects of the ‘cross courses? James, Boulder, CO.

Hey James, While it’s tough to beat a lifetime of having wheels spinning underneath you, there’s nothing that says you can’t improve on the skills you have now. As ‘cross riders we’re a lucky bunch; our pre-season occurs when it’s sunny and warm. That’s an ideal time to simply spend time on the bike, and that’s what I’d suggest you do. Take your ‘cross bike out of its comfort zone and ride it year-round. I like to tie together urban riding – curbs, sidewalks, transitions between pavement and dirt on my way to the trails. Once in the trails I like to really try and push my bike’s traction to its limit away from a race situation. It’s funny, there are a lot of people who ride and race road bikes and mtbs all year and won’t touch their ‘cross bike until the day before the race. I’ve been guilty of it myself some years, but really ahead of any fitness questions or gains, simply time on your ‘cross bike will benefit the most. Spend time with it rolling around town and on dirt roads, even take it into singletrack (legal) and take the time to figure out what it’s all about. Good luck!

Hi Tim. Fans love the cowbells. Do you? Jill, Portland, OR

Love ’em! If I ever had a chance to rewind my life on video, there’d be a lot of them in there. I remember at the World Championships in Munich, Germany, we were racing inside the Olympic Stadium and the whole upper deck had Swiss ‘cross fans ringing their cow bells. The thing was, these weren’t like any old cowbell you’d find here in the States – these were supersized antique bells that were the size of their torsos. It made for a hell of an atmosphere. I’ve seen the video since then and you can hear them in the background.

Everyone’s always asking JPow (Jeremy Powers, Tim’s teammate) about his musical tastes, DJing skills and favorite mixes. Jeremy seems like a great guy and is a helluva rider but let’s just say that I’d scram from any party that he was spinning at in a hurry. Let’s hear about your pre-race music tastes, or a good mix tape courtesy of the reigning national champ! Doug, Vermont

He may have musical tastes that aren’t shared by everyone, you’re right. Myself included … there were some times that I wanted to toss his iPod out the window (of a plane!). Usually I go for something on the chill side with The Pixies or Peter Bjorn and then start getting more pumped up with Dropkick Murphy’s or Social Distortion. Pretty much anything is good with me, as long as it doesn’t have LOL smiley-faces in it.