HomeNewsTechnique Thursday : 3 Skills To Master For Cyclocross

Technique Thursday : 3 Skills To Master For Cyclocross

It’s one of the most exciting and accessible disciplines of cycling, so it’s no wonder people of all ages and abilities are getting into cyclocross. But with excitement comes challenge; part of the reason so many riders and spectators love cyclocross is because of the technicality it involves. With ‘cross, you can expect wooden hurdles, steps, steep banks, sand and lots of mud, for a race that lasts anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour. And as Cyclocross is raced in the ‘off’ season, you can expect frigid temperatures, rain, wind and even snow to compete with too.

Luckily, Cyclocross Bikes are designed to take on whatever obstacle and weather challenges are thrown in their direction; their tyres are capable of tackling thick mud and sand, and the lack of weight on a CX bike means carrying and shouldering should be a lot easier.

And with Cyclocross racing, with time comes experience; the more you compete, the more you’ll become accustomed to the challenges these kinds of courses present. But if you’re brand new to ‘cross, there are a few skills you should learn (and master) before you try out the sport.

We’ve whittled down three skills that you’ll want to have mastered if you’re looking to get into Cyclocross racing, which includes: Dismounting and Remounting, Shouldering and Carrying and Cornering.

Running Dismounts & Remounts

The sheer complexity of a cyclocross course means some parts of the race are simply unrideable, which means you need to dismount from your bike and carry or ‘shoulder’ your bike. We’ll explain the process of ‘shouldering’ later on, but for now we’ll focus on how to dismount from and remount your bike.

Cyclocross Dismouts

If we had to put it in step by step format, to dismount you would:

  1. Swing your right leg over the saddle and make sure your right hand is on the crossbar
  2. Bring your right leg between the frame and your left leg
  3. Put your right leg on the floor, un-clip your left foot and start running

Or,

  1. Swing your right leg over the saddle and make sure your right hand is on the crossbar
  2. Hang your right leg behind your left leg so that your feet are close together
  3. Unclip your left foot and start running.

To remount you would:

  1. Place both hands on the handlebars
  2. Swing your right leg over the saddle
  3. Slide over your seat and clip onto your pedals

Simple? Well no, not really….this really isn’t as easy as it looks or sounds. Learning to get off and get back on your bike is not something to be overlooked….this skill will take time and require patience, until you find the right technique for you. Our best advice would be to start slowly, and as you get more confident, increase the speed of your dismounting and remounting. Check out British Cycling’s full guide to dismounting and remounting.

Shouldering

You may need to ‘shoulder’ your bike when part of the course becomes unrideable. This technique may come in handy for instance when you’re passing a steep flight of steps or even a climb. Obviously, when picking a cyclocross bike you’ll want to make sure the bike is a light as possible, as this will help you out when you need to shoulder or carry your your bike and save valuable energy. The Cube Cross Race SLT  for instance, was designed with shouldering in mind. Light, and with a mechanically formed complex profile top tube, comfort really is king and weight needn’t matter.

ian-field-bike-shouldering

Each rider is different and will shoulder their bike differently, however the same set of rules generally apply:

  1. Once you’ve dismounted, pick your bike up by either the top or down tube, keeping your left hand on the handlebar
  2. Swing your right elbow through the frame and the lift the top tube onto your shoulder.
  3. Move your right hand either around the front of frame, or under the frame and place it on your handlebar, to replace your left hand

Carrying Your Bike

For smaller obstacles, shouldering your bike may not be necessary; sometimes you’ll need to dismount for one or two seconds, in which case you’ll just want to carry your bike. To do so, keep your right hand on the top tube and your left hand on the handlebar, and hold your bike out to the right side of your body.

Cornering

Imagine a race course with no corners or bends…boring! Corners add excitement and challenge to cyclocross courses, but as speed is so crucial in this kind of race, you won’t want to waste any time when you reach them. Maintaining your speed is a crucial for all cycling disciplines, so knowing how to corner effectively is a great skill to have and to hone.

Tyres are a very important aspect of cornering, and if you want to get around corners smoothly and confidently, you’ll need to know your tyres inside out; understanding where the limit of the grip is, for example, is crucial. You may also want to have a play around with your tyre pressure too, as this can help with traction. Once you’ve found out which pressure works best for you, you’ll know exactly which pressure to go in and race with, meaning you’ll be fully prepared and confident. If you need help choosing tyres, check out our latest post, What Tyres For Cyclocross?

However, with cornering in cyclocross, there aren’t any hard and fast rules as because you’ll face a number of different situations; corners with mud, corners on ice…the list goes on. There are however things you’ll want to think about regardless of the type of corner. These include understanding the surface, picking the best line and getting your weight in the right place, for instance.

So, in a nutshell, the only way you’ll learn to master the art of cornering is to take on a wide range of corners, and surfaces. Get out on your bike and learn which action to take on which kind of surface…you’ll be a pro in no time!

Check out Bicycling’s 6 Cyclocross Tips to Help You Corner Faster for more tips and tricks!