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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    seattle
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    2

    another training question

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    This is my first season racing cross - and my first time doing any type of bike racing. I came into the first race with a generally good level of fitness, but had not done any bike racing training specifically. I'm really enjoying it and am doing fairly well in my category - I'm in the top 5 for the series out of a typical category turnout of 30-40 women.

    I want to mtn bike race this spring, but I do not plan to road race. I would like to race cross again next year and move up to cat 3. However, I have no idea how to train or what to do to get faster. Is there a book or training program you would recommend following? I can't afford a private coach. I've looked through "The Mountain Bike Training Bible" - has anyone used it? Is mtn bike training transferable to cyclocross?

    Thanks for any suggestions you can provide.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    San Francisco, CA
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    The one and only cyclocross book in the world is Simon Burney's "Cyclocross Training & Technique." It covers everything from equipment to training to clothing to racing. It's a bit old, but most of it is still valid.

    Training for mtn bike races and cross races is pretty different, but there are several components necessary for each. I would assume you'd be training for the mtn bike season and then seque into training for cross in July or August.

    First, you need a strong aerobic base. This means good, solid road miles -- steady and a low to moderate intensity level. Most mtn bikers do their aerobic training on the road because you can't get those long, sustained efforts on most mtn bike trails.

    To develop your own training plann, I'd recommend Joe Friel's book (Ned Overend co-wrote the mtn bike version with him). Friel is really a self-help, do-it-yourself manual that will teach you how to assess your strengths and weaknesses and then develop your own training plan.

    Mtn bike training is very transferrable to cross, but there are some different requirements. Think about how the races differ -- mtn bike races will be 90 minutes to 2 hours for the most part, so you're not going red-line the way you are in cross. You're also not running. Cross races are short and hard with fast transitions. For cross, you'll do more short intervals along with time trial paced efforts (2 x 20s).

    I'm rambling....sorry, Saturday night and I'm tired. I probably shouldn't have started to answer this but I got so excited when you said you raced with 40 CAT4 women. Woo hoo!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    467
    30 or 40 participants- really? Wow! That's totally amazing as we rarely get more than 10 at any event, and that would be for the bigger races.

    I have wild daydreams about mass finishes in road races where I can let loose with my sprint and win....

    I've been watching some 'cross races here, and I tend to think of these as much more similar to crit's than road races....sometimes they are doing a bit of soft pedaling, while other times redlining it. So along with sustainable power (the 2 x 20 work), I think anaerobic ability is important for those races. A series of hard 3-minute intervals would be a good place to start.

    I have read both the road and mtb bible books by friel. I've developed some definite critiques of his methods, but most of it is quite sound and useful. If nothing else it will give you some structure and a place to start.

    Good luck with your racing !

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
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    Although crits and cross races are both hard and short, they really aren't that much alike. There is no recovery in cross. Seriously. In crits, you can sit in the pack and really not work much. And then you accelerate out of corners and for primes. The other difference in crits is that your placement in the pack wil determine how much you can recover. Sitting second or third wheel, you can recover most of the race if you want, because you can corner at speed, eliminating the need to accelerate out of the corners. If you're at the front of the pack, you have a constant hard effort (no surges). If you're at the back of the pack you're working hard, hard, hard with lots of surges. My PT files for crits are a series of 30s on/30s off for most of the race, with power during the off being close to zero and power during the on being 400+ watts, however my HR is well below red-line for most of the race.

    Cross, otoh, is all on, all the time, with the exception of courses that really limit your speed (like the chicanes through the trees we had last week). Very, very different physical demands, although I can see why if you've never raced either and just spectated you might think they're similar.

    So, for cross, you need the 2 x 20s so you can train your body to sustain a hard effort and shorter intervals to respond to the push on transitions. One of the best places to gain (or lose) time on the field is out of the transitions (corners, post-barriers, flats after a descent, etc), so doing 15 second intervals is extrememly useful, but you don't train with full recovery. Rather, it's 15 seconds on, 45 seconds off, repeat. A typical PT file for cross races would be red-line HR the entire race and pretty high power as well, with short bursts of even higher power.

    Road races are even different, because you typically have a variety of terrain (hills, rollers, flats) and the pace and intensity will be dictated by this, as well as by the effort of specific racers (attacks, etc). Positioning also plays an important role in the amount of effort you need to produce. Of anything, I'd say the demands of road racing are much more like the demands of mtn bike racing. The primary difference (at least in women's racing) is that you don't typically do a lot of drafting in mtn bike races, so there's not as much recovery as there is in road races. But both are highly aerobic efforts with short intense periods based on terrain and tactics.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    467
    As of yet, no power files from a cross race have fallen into my lap, so I can't say I have seen one.

    Some of the cross races I've seen here so far, have sections of soft-pedaling, but then that's because of the way the course was laid out.

    Anyway, you race cross and I don't, so I really don't have much to add in this forum.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    San Francisco, CA
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    But you'll see next year when you start racing, CC. Spectating a race from one perspective can be very misleading because so much else can happen other places on the course (in any type of race). I definitely think you can learn a lot by spectating, and I recommend it for all new racers before they even attempt to race. You're in a good position, CC -- you'll have an entirely new perspective on the various disciplines. But you've already learned a lot more about racing and training than most new racers, so you're going to do great.



    I'm a big believer in training specifically for the demands of the sport, so once you start racing you'll be able to train even more effectively since you can analyze your PT files from different types of races. You'll see what the physical demands are and you'll be able to replicate those in your training. You're leaps and bounds ahead of other beginner racers because you're starting to understand how power works and also what your personal strengths are.

    It's interesting, because if you ask a racer what the specific demands of a given race are based on HR (or perceived exertion), their perception might be very different than the reality they'd see by analyzing a power file of their performance. That's why I'm amazed so many folks train with power but don't use their power meters in races. They're missing the opportunity to collect some very valuable data that would help them train more efficiently.

    Back to cross, the best cross racers are also able to optimize their power output on less-than-favorable terrain. New racers might be soft-pedaling on bumpy terrain (as they watch the leaders ride away from them). Experienced racers will hammer on the bumpy terrain and descents. It just comes with experience. One of my mantras in cross is "pedal, pedal, pedal, go, go, go." Sometimes I yell it at my clients, friends, and teammates during the races, too. I also ask myself throughout the race if I'm going as hard as I can. Unfortunately, the way courses are designed here (flat and fast with some short climbs and run-ups), there really isn't anywhere for recovery unless you just aren't putting the torque to the pedals.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    467
    VG - I agree that it is not the same experience watching vs. participating. I would think that is doubly so for more technical events, where technique and approach play a big part. The value of which, isn't readily obvious if one is just observing whereas with a TT, well it is pretty much sustainable power over the given distance.

    I realize there is a small weight penalty with the PT hubs, but to train with power and then go into a race strictly on feel seems a bit contradictory. Not to mention you lose out on analysis of your race files and why or how you won, or lost, got dropped, etc...

    Nobody I know here that races actually uses PM's. I'm sure there are folks that do, I just don't happen to know them nor do I know every racer in my area.

    After just a few rides with the PT I realized how variable, as well as unreliable HR is, and to a lesser extent RPE. As an experiment of sorts and maybe to teach myself to better correlate RPE with power - I'll ride up a hill w/o looking at the PM for a short bit and try to guess more or less what my wattage should be - ditto on the trainer. It is still a work in progress, but getting better.

    Anyway, my strengths are ridiculously obvious while weaknesses are painfully obvious.

    The cross courses here, at least for the 3 events I've attended, have all been more or less improvised on school yards. I really have no idea if that is indicative of other areas or unique to this region.
    Last edited by Cassandra_Cain; 11-12-2006 at 09:51 PM. Reason: typo

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    seattle
    Posts
    2
    Thanks for the input. You lost me a little talking about crits and PT (what is that?)...but I appreciate your responses. A guy on my team is going to loan me his Friel book. And I'm going to add more intervals into my workouts.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Posts
    6

    Thanks for the discussion

    Your thread here and all of the training advice has been a goldmine discovery for me. I should be going to bed as my girl wakes up early but I can't stop reading!
    I am planning on racing cross possibly this fall but next year for sure. I have a 1.5 year old daughter and, for the first time in many years, time to focus on my training (I know it sounds weird, but it's a loooooong story and being a mom is acutally a mellower phase of my life).
    So, anyway, I invested in my, oh, 7th lifetime bike (but third one that I presently own) and it's a Redline Pro cyclocross bike.
    I am 41 and although most folks would write me off, I feel great, am getting back to fit fast and KNOW I have at least 7-10 years of solid racing or serious cycling potential left in me. (Although I don't have the history that Jeannie Longo has, I am still younger than she is!! and look at what she's accomplished at her age!)
    Anyway, I digress. I only wanted to thank you gals for sharing so openly about your experiences and offering your kowledge. I'll be dropping in again from time to time and I am sure I'll have a few words to share or questions to ask.

    In the mean time, happy spinning!

    Cheers
    Stania

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Posts
    6

    Question about PT Hubs

    I forgot to ask,

    I am curious to know what kind (brand) of PT hubs you gals are using?
    CC, if you're still on the forum it'll be a year for you with yours now so you may have some input?
    I have heard and read mixed reviews about them all (in terms of reliable information) and would love to know what your experiences have been.
    I was happy to read about the advice regarding having the stats for racing also, that's GREAT advice and never would have thought of it so thank you.
    I am more interested now to spend the money on one understanding better the benefit (beyond simple training).

    Cheers
    S
    Last edited by Stania; 05-13-2007 at 11:29 PM. Reason: Couldn't remember names so had to check back

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080
    I have a PowerTap Pro and a PowerTap SL. They're made by cycleops/saris. I really haven't had any reliability problems with either.

    ps -- 41 is NOT old.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    407
    Quote Originally Posted by Cassandra_Cain View Post
    Some of the cross races I've seen here so far, have sections of soft-pedaling, but then that's because of the way the course was laid out.

    I raced Cat 3 CX series in WI last fall. We have a wide variety of courses (there are 8 races in our series) and if you soft-pedal, you will be dropped...and it will be race over. CX is the hardest, all out effort that I've ever made. Its balls out, all the time, no stopping, no recovering, hack up a lung when you're done and try not to puke (sounds like fun, huh?).

    I've also raced Cat 4 crits (which are very fast around here) and last week I had my first ever Expert mountain bike race (we also had Pros in our race because they combine Expert & Pro...and let me tell you, the start of the race was absolutely painful). IMO, CX is much harder on the lungs and I usually feel more like crap when I'm done, as compared to Crit or Mt. bike racing. Sitting on someone's wheel in a crit is almost effortless....its like getting sucked along in some kind of vortex.
    Last edited by madisongrrl; 05-14-2007 at 07:54 PM.
    Just keep pedaling.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Posts
    6

    41 is NOT old...

    Re: I have a PowerTap Pro and a PowerTap SL. They're made by cycleops/saris. I really haven't had any reliability problems with either.

    ps -- 41 is NOT old.
    __________________________________________________________

    Thanks for the response...and thanks for the reminder sister! http://forums.teamestrogen.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

 

 

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