Cyclo-Cross Tips and Tricks

I held another cyclo-cross practice session last night for a good group of people. The idea for the session was really to get the basics down well. To build confidence with dismounts, mounts and turning – the components that I see as the basics of cyclo-cross.

We warmed up nice and easy with some turning drills, practicing sliding around on our seats to see how this affects the turning ratio and comfort level. It is amazing to see how far people will push their limits when surrounded by others doing the same! Next up was tripoding. I find tripoding is a useful skill particularly in downhill cornering and cornering in loose terrain such as sand. Tripoding can give you that extra feeling of “security” you need to stay off the brakes and let the bike roll.

After this warm-up we switched gears to focus on dismounts and mounts. We took these super slow and easy. Breaking these techniques down to the basics and literally starting off at a walking pace. I find this is the easiest way to learn new skills and to break “bad habits”. Going fast is great – but often speed and learning don’t always mix. One rider had a great break-through last night and became comfortable with the “coast” and moving her hand from her handlebars to her toptube. Awesome!

Finally after all this we broke out the barrier and started to speed things up. We played around with the approach to the barrier with pretty much everyone finding a different spot where they’re comfortable at getting off their bike. In my opinion, the dismount distance is completely individual – it really depends on your foot speed and agility. Same goes for the remount – don’t get caught up in getting back on the bike right away or within two steps – just do what feels right. What is most important is to get off the bike quickly and smoothly, to float over the barrier and to get on the bike without wasting energy.

The last component of our session was to set up the grid and practice a little circuit that involved attacking the barrier and then working on some high speed turns. This gave everyone an opportunity to practice the turning skills we warmed-up with and to do things with a bit more speed.

All in all, it was an excellent night of training. I really enjoy seeing people learn a new skill – particularly the big grin that breaks out when they realize that they’ve “done it”.

As for me? Well, today was supposed to be about motorpacing… But I’m wiped out today with an ear ache, sore throat and a nasty ulcerative colitis attack. (Admittedly I probably brought this all on myself by getting stressed out and putting too much on my plate. Some things never change I suppose.) So today is a recovery day. About to get layered up in my leg warmers, thermal vest and long-fingered gloves for a skills session myself. On the agenda for me: cornering speed and fluid dismounts/remounts. And yes, I’ll be starting off slowly and not going too hard – it is about recovery and learning today.

Just a reminder that this year you must pre-register for the Ottawa Bicycle Club cyclo-cross series. There are two registration dates:
– tonight from 3 – 6 p.m at The Cyclery
– Sept. 18 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m at The Cyclery

Additionally you can register online through the Ontario Cycling Association website. You cannot register on site – you must be pre-registered to race….

To see the Ottawa cyclo-cross race schedule and full registration requirements, visit

2 thoughts on “Cyclo-Cross Tips and Tricks

  1. Hope you’re well enough for your races this weekend! I think you’re getting on the right track after reading your last few posts.
    I appreciate posts like this as it lets me learn a bit more.
    Thought of another question. If winter comes early do they still run the CC events up here..meaning do just do it in the snow? Just something to know..I’m not a wimp 🙂

    • Thanks John! Just a slight tickle/sensation in the back of my throat… Hoping it stays this way.
      Yes, the races still happen in the snow…. Racing in the snow is fun – just stay relaxed, easy on the brake and keep pedaling.
      Good luck this weekend in the Army Run!

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