Cyclocross Race Skills | Emma Does Cyclo-Cross Episode 4

Cyclocross Race Skills | Emma Does Cyclo-Cross Episode 4


(intense booming sound effect) – I have absolutely loved
getting stuck into cyclocross sometimes actually quite literally, but there are still a few essential skills that I need to master before I
toe the start line of a race. So this video is hopefully
gonna bride the gap between riding a cross
bike, which is really fun, and racing a cross bike which
frankly, looks terrifying. Anyway, we’ve come down
to our local cross course and Simon is gonna talk me through what he thinks are the essential sections. (dramatic and intense music) – To begin with then,
Emma, the start line. Now, the start of a cyclocross
race is probably gonna be quite different to most other racing that you’ve done before
given that it’s full gas straight off the line. So not quite a max sprint, but almost. And the reason being, is that it’s so much harder to
move up in a cyclocross race than it is in a road race. So everyone is fighting
for the best position straight off the line. So you’ve got to be
prepared to go quite deep, but on the flip side is that
most races do settle down relatively soon after the start. Not world cups, but local races. The key is firstly gear selection. So you wanna put it in a
gear that is just hard enough that it actually propels you off the line, but it’s not so difficult
that you’re struggling to turn it over. So there’s kind of a happy medium and you only really know through practice and it’ll depend on
what surface you’re on. So this is quite heavy grass so it’s probably gonna
be a slightly easier one. But if it’s too easy, you’ll put your pedal down, you won’t really go very far, and then you won’t have any momentum when you try and clip your second foot in. Okay, so I’m in about the 23. No, wait a minute. 25, I’m in. 25-40. – Yeah, three from the top. That’s where I am. But I think I have slightly
bigger set than you so I’m gonna go down. – Right. Okay. Then you wanna put your lead leg forward. So whichever your leg that
you’re gonna be riding in your attack position. And then it’s simply the
case of going for it. The one bit of advice I would say is that if you don’t clip
in first time around, don’t worry about it. Some people stop pedaling and
try and get their foot in. That’s definitely a bad thing. So my tip, if you miss your foot, is to then sit in the saddle, you keep pedaling with
the leg that is clipped in and then just wait until there’s a moment where you can clip in. Okay, ready? Three, two, one. Go! (hip hop trumpet solo) – I found the start of
races in road racing was the worst bit for me. Like I would be really
stressed at the start line and the calmer I could be- The neutral section was my nightmare. So I’d rather- I don’t think starting gently
is gonna be a great approach to cyclocross racing though
‘cuz they’re quite short. So maybe I should- I just need to- – Think of it like this, if you’re lapping at the
same speed as the leaders, which, you know, ideally that’s
what you’re gonna be doing, then if you’ve penalized
yourself by starting slowly and you’ve lost 3 minutes
in your first lap, you are gonna be going around
3 minutes behind the leaders. So what you wanna do is make sure that you don’t have to go faster than the leaders early
on in order to catch up. Now before we leave the
start completely, Emma, one last thing I see looking at this particular start straight in that, if you have the choice
when lining up at the grid, either front or back, is
to actually have a look. And in this case, particularly, you’ve got short, fast grass over there and thick, long, tufty grass over here and so if you start on that
side of the start straight you will have a significant advantage to if you start on this start straight. And so, I mean, it’s particular
to individual courses, but it’s always worth having
a look and bearing it in mind. (energetic music) Next up, Emma, steep stuff. Now, cyclocross courses always seem to have steep ups and steep downs in. And so, it’s one of those skills that you’ve gotta be
able to absolutely nail. Firstly, so you can get around safely and secondly, so you
can get around quickly. In terms of going up though,
you’re absolutely right in that if you get stuck
halfway it’s really bad. So there’s kind of a
bit of an unwritten rule which is if you can only ride
something 80% of the time, then you should run it every time because the amount of time that you lose from getting stuck halfway
and then desperately trying to get off your bike
and then restart again will completely offset
any time that you save on those other eight times. The first question that
you’ve got to ask yourself is whether or not it is actually rideable. And so, in order to make it rideable, it might be that you’ve
got to consider getting as much momentum as
you can coming into it. So maybe if there’s a corner beforehand, you take like a wide
line so that you’ve got more time to accelerate into it. And then you also wanna choose a gear that means that you kind
of avoid changing gear when you’re really
leaning on it, halfway up. So that might mean pedaling
in at a really fast cadence and then trying to extend it up the bank. But yeah, you certainly don’t wanna be stalling halfway up, trying to change gear and then getting off and running. – And keep your weight on the saddle to keep traction on the back wheel? – Well, that’s a good question, actually. It depends, really, because
you’ll obviously get more power out of the saddle, but then
you will have less traction, as you said, at the back. So, on something like this, you probably wanna get as
much momentum as you can at the bottom and then be in a gear where you can kinda be in the saddle as you’re getting towards the top to really weight the back wheel. (intense staccato music) Right then, Emma. This is the bit that you’ve
been super excited about and looking forward to, the steep downs. – [Emma] Mm hmm. – The cool thing about most
cyclocross steep downs, I guess, is that you’ve often
got quite a bit of runoff and so the thing to remember
is that you’re often as safe staying off your
brakes as you are going on them because if you’re not braking you’ve got less chance of sliding out. So not completely, obviously,
‘cuz if you barrel down and you’ve got too much momentum
to get around the corner, then you’re screwed. But the principle is
there is that sometimes going a little bit
faster is actually better than if you’re going really slowly. Otherwise, I’d say get on the drops. That’s really important. Then you’ve got the most
control that you’ve got. And then get your weight
as far back as possible, off the seat, behind it. Pedals level, and away you go. – Right. The attack position. – The attack position. Not too much front brake
‘cuz it’s so slippy today. You can feel the front start to slide, but like I said, you
could just roll down this with no problem at all. Because this comes
immediately after a hill that we’re probably gonna be pushing up, what you wanna avoid is still trying to be getting on your bike
as you get to the steep bit and then you start flapping around. So in the worst case scenario- and it won’t come to this- but you wanna stop the bike
to make sure that you’re in control before going down. – Yeah. Oh, I’m still not quite- Oh no, just about. (intense music) Right, I totally forgot
to get on the drops there. I was so busy trying to get on the saddle and get clipped in, which
I have no chance anymore ‘cuz there’s so much mud involved. So this time I’ll try
getting on the drops. – Yeah, give it another
go and see how it feels. – Right, okay. (intense rock music)
(bike gears whirring) – Nice! Yeah, nailed it! – Right, I’m quite chuffed. I’ve done that descent twice
now and not fallen off once, but I didn’t clip in with my right foot at all for about a minute there because I have so much mud everywhere. – Yeah. Well, you very quickly-
particularly when conditions are like this- you get a
lot of mud on the bottom of your shoes, don’t you? – Yup. – A cheeky little tip is actually before- well not necessarily
before you try and clip in- but at points on the course
you could give your foot a little bit of a tap and then it just- (foot tapping hard on bike frame) It’s a fairly rudimentary technique, but you’ll clear a lot of mud off. (exciting, energetic music) Next up: sand. Now, I’ll be honest with you, Emma. I’m not entirely sure why cyclocross races have become synonymous with sandpits. Probably, I guess, because some of the best
cross races in the world take place on courses
where it’s naturally sandy. But because of that, race
organizers will often put in a sand pit to race through
and I’m glad they do ‘cuz they’re really good fun, but there is a definite technique to it that you should add to your armory. – Right. So what’s the technique? This sand looks deep and it looks just like, bulky, basically. – Yeah, well I mean, that is part of it. You’ve got so much
resistance when you’re riding through sand that your bike
just wants to slow down, so the key is- as with
all cross- momentum. So you wanna try and
conserve your momentum as far into the sand as possible. And the other problem is that
the front wheel often wants to wash out in the sand and if does, you’ll generally stall and
have to get off and run. The best way to go through a sandpit is to follow the rut, okay? So you’ll generally find
that they’ll be maybe 1 or 2 ruts on the entrance to the sandpit and those are the ones you wanna ride on ‘cuz the sand is compacted. The problem with ruts is that they tend to disappear about
halfway through the sand because people then start to lose momentum and their front wheels wander. So there are more exits to a sandpit than there are entrances. Going one step back, the technique actually on the bike- So as well as having as
much speed as you can get, you wanna keep your weight back. So on the hoods and then
weight sat in the saddle. Probably as far back on
the saddle as you can. And then I would use a
slightly bigger gear, perhaps. Just to keep my cadence down a little bit. So maybe more like 70s as opposed to 80s. And I find that gives me
a little bit of something to push against on the bike. So I’ve found I can keep
control of it better. But ultimately you do sort of have to let the bike go where it
wants to go a little bit. All right. Find King Rut. Here he is. (intense music) (bike wheels spinning through sand) (sighs) – Yeah, I’m not a fan of sand. Already. (laughs) – I reckon, if you just commit to it ‘cuz- – Yeah. Commitment is the- – You’re unlikely to
have any kind of nasties- – Well. Yeah. I just don’t like getting sandy. (breathes heavily) – Well, think of it this way. The faster you get out of the sandpit- (laughs) – The less likely I am to fall off. – The less time you’ll spend in sand. – Of course, the golden rule about riding through sand is you
need to clean your bike pretty well afterwards, as you’ll know because your drive tone will be telling you very loudly. So I think the way of riding sand is just to be bloody stubborn-minded and kinda get angry with
it and just keep pushing. (exciting techno music) – Another cyclocross skill,
totally nailed, Emma. Nice work. – Thank you. That’s a very generous
description, “Nailing it.” – Well, whatever way, you are more than ready to
line up at a cyclocross race. I mean, the cool thing about cross race is that you don’t need to be ready, as such. You just need to turn
up and put a number on. That’s the hardest bit. But I think you’ll do great. – Definitely don’t feel ready, but I mean, how bad can it be? It looks like it’s kind of fun as long as I don’t get
in too many people’s way. I don’t wanna make anyone cross. – But the thing is, though, you can’t get in anyone’s way because you’ve
got a number on your back the same as everyone else. You’ve paid the same amount of entry fees as everyone else. So, you know, it’s racing, isn’t it? If you’re in someone’s way, it’s kind of their fault for
letting you get in their way. – Yeah. – I think so, anyway. ‘Cuz at local races you get
a lot of people being lapped and different categories on
the course at the same time, so everyone should race
with a certain amount of good grace because at the
end of the day, it is fun. – Yeah. – It’s just what people do on a Saturday or a Sunday, isn’t it? So yeah, I definitely don’t think you should be stressed about that. – Well, I’m looking forward to it. – Good stuff. I’m looking forward to it as well. – I’ve enjoyed learning and
if you’ve enjoyed watching, give us a thumbs up. You can check out the previous videos by clicking down here.