What Should I Be Practicing?

From our “Why Do a Clinic” post that looked at the Rutgers Cycling Cyclocross Clinic, here are a few things you can expect to learn at a clinic, or if you’re going it alone, these are things you can practice either in your backyard or with a few friends.

Practicing barriers at the Rutgers Cyclocross Clinic. Molly Hurford

Practicing barriers at the Rutgers Cyclocross Clinic. © Molly Hurford

If you do attend a clinic, here are a few of the topics you can expect to learn about:

Starts: unlike road racing where the final lap is the most important, often in cyclocross the first lap and getting the “hole shot” is key to having a great race, so being able to clip in and sprint from the gun are important techniques to learn.

Mounts and Dismounts: one of the most important time-savers a new rider can learn is how to mount and dismount with ease. At the clinic, the coaches went over the technique, explaining their logic for each motion, and then supervised the group as they went across the field and back, slowly remounting and dismounting.

Off-Camber Turns: so many races set up taped off-camber turns, typically ending in a pile-up on the first lap. It’s great to learn the best line to take in these turns and practice being able to go into them not riding your brakes, so you have enough speed to get out of them. And even if you fall, it’s important to learn how to get up and run out quickly.

Barriers: every race has them, so the more you can practice your barrier technique, the less chance you have of losing teeth by tripping on the heavy wooden barriers at races.

Run Ups: running up a short, steep hill shouldering your bike seems hard. And rightly so, because it is. But there are ways of making it easier, like properly shouldering your bike so it isn’t forcing you to hunch over, or hitting you in the back of the head. And remounting at the top right away rather than pausing for air is an important skill to practice.

Cornering: going into corners is one thing, coming out is another. Going in, obviously you want to go as fast as you feel comfortable, but the real trick is coming out and getting back up to speed.

Attitude: when you’re  racing, it’s easy to feel discouraged, disheartened or just plain tired and sore. What he reminds everyone to do is to stay focused in the race, and to not give up.