Advice on CX starts

Anyone got advice for getting over being too cautious (nervous) at CX starts?

This is the start of my second CX season since using Trainer Road and my gridding has moved up from 60th to mid thirties (thanks TR). The problem is that I always lose about 10 places at start and spend the first 2 laps catching back to my grid position.

I have the power to go hard, but just bottle it when there are more than 60 other riders all around.


Do you have trouble clipping in and getting started or just the ability to go hard out of the gate?
You’ve obviously put in the training. For me it’s always a metal thing when it comes to going into the red right out of the gate. I’ve found that a pretty intense warm-up helps me start harder. YMMV.

It’s a good question that you seem to know the answer (just ride hard), but in practice it’s tough to get past the mental block. I’ve been more of a back of the pack type but, especially yesterday, I tried to put in a good start and really tried to put out power because I knew I needed to get a position if I’m ever going to get my much desired mid pack finish (spoiler alert, I did finish right at the middle!). I don’t think my start was perfect because I did end up giving up some spots to people I passed initially, but I felt I executed the opening rush well (looks like 416w in the first minute, peaking at 859w), and I think the key was really trying to visualize getting into a better position as opposed to just going with the pack

Thanks for the tips.

I don’t have any problems clipping in. I’ll definitely work on a good warm up though as I’m not sure I’ve got that nailed yet.

I like the idea of visualising the position I want to be in rather than worrying about the chaos around me.

When I get my call up, I try and get behind someone I know who is aggressive, won’t have problems clipping in and will move up fast. Having said that, if I have a good clip in and push off the line, I get my elbows out slightly - like not way out but probably just in a natural way with my hands on the hoods and sprinting sort of way if that makes sense, ha. and stay aggressive. Chances are everyone else is just as cautious, so be the one to move up and get out of the chaos. If you have position over someone, own it. Or they’ll take it.

Easier said than done when you’re a fourth row call up. But just remember everyone ahead of you is supposed to be ‘faster’, so just find a wheel and latch on. And keep digging.


For whatever reason, I am a great starter and the weeknight races are first come, first served at the start; usually second-row starter on weekend races. I start in the drops with my elbows out, this keeps me from hooking with other riders. I clip in the with the right foot just before 1 o’clock and push-off with my left foot a bit to get the bike moving. I also pace my start so that I don’t build a gap because at the start I’m racing for position, not to create a gap. Then I sit up to create some mayhem behind me and attack again at the next bottle neck (within reason) because this is the time in the race where you have total control over the whole field, and that’s a chance to grab a few more breaths. Then, I blow up and finish mid-pack, lol.

How often do you practice starts? I excel with starts, dis/re-mounts, and am the only guy occasionally hopping (shorter) barriers in cat-4 because I practice those things all year.

Thanks for some good tips.

I don’t practice them nearly as much as I should. This year I’ve been concentrating on my fitness and not so much skills.

Interestingly as the season has progressed I’ve got better, but I think this is due to me being gridded higher so not having so many people around me.