Ah, today I hit up the Blauberg Forest. Can’t believe I’ve lived here for four cyclo-cross seasons and this is the first time I’ve hit up the Blauberg Forest. Yesterday Marc rode the green route in the Blauberg Forest so I thought I’d check it out today.
Literally three minutes from my place I hooked up with a green triangle marker posted on cement post and followed these markers for around 26 kilometers. The “green route” is a mix of heavy muddy fire roads, singletrack in the woods, some pavement, and some serious mud bog riding. A perfect ride to do on a cyclo-cross bike.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect of my fitness or technical skills. I haven’t done a cyclo-cross ride since my last race which was the Koksijde World Cup. Well, lets just say I was a bit rusty at first but as things got rolling I got into the off-road groove. I did my first lap in around an hour and then decided to do a second lap of the green route. I completed this second lap in 40 minutes or so – so a definite improvement on the first lap. I didn’t kill myself – just tried to keep things steady.
This ride reinforced my main issue on the cyclo-cross and road bikes: when there is resistance (i.e. mud, a steep incline, hill) I drop my cadence – I switch into the slow pedaling power type of cadence. This does not work for cyclo-cross – it is much easier and faster to get through the mud and sand with a high cadence and smooth pedaling rhythm. I struggle with steep inclines – always seeming to stall out just at the top of the incline – again where the resistance is the greatest. As for climbing on the road – lets just say that 55 rpm is not the best cadence out there….
This ride also highlighted another area I need to work on: turning my front wheel. It seems that I always want to “carve” corners rather than turning my wheel sharply or even continuing to complete the “turn”. Oh and another thing I noticed is that I really need to get comfortable at cornering with speed.
So, I consider this to have been a great training ride. I got to play in the woods, trees, and mud – the sun was shining and I was smiling as well! To top it off, I’ve got some great learning points that I can take away from this ride and store in my brain.
I think that what I really need to think about at all times is “keep the pedals turning”. This is easy to do on the road when I have my SRM showing my cadence but when I’m on my ‘cross bike training or racing, I don’t have this. The only solution is to make this a natural part of my riding style. I’m not sure of the best way of teaching myself this skill – the only thing I can think of is to simply “drill” this into myself – I think the best way to do this is to simply get out and ride sand, mud and steep inclines purely focusing on keeping my cadence high and smooth. Guess this means you’ll see me out riding in muddy fields this spring in Ottawa….
If you’re curious about my route today, check out this PDF of the riding routes in the Blauberg Forest: