Lessons for First Season of Cyclocross?

The best thing you can do is get a 15-20 min warmup in. Your races are short, but they can be less painful if you are properly warmed up.

Second, don’t start off too hard in the opening sprint/lap. Go at a pace, for that first lap, that seems slightly easier than what you think you should be doing. 15 minutes into the race, your legs will be thanking you.

Last - hold those handlebars (hoods are my preferred steering point) as loosely as you can while maintaining control. If you do a death grip, your hands will be cramping by the end of the race.

Good luck!


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warmup with preride laps is best, about 30 mins before the start of your race. That usually means between races 1 race before yours. Then roll back to the car, put on your number and/or race jersey, jackets. Take some water and/or a gel. Check pressure, wipe off as much crud as you can, and roll to call ups

I’m about to start my 3rd season of cross. My background is 10+ years of roadie/tri and cross gets me more excited then any kind of racing these days. I’m still in the “just doing it for fun” category so I don’t take it too seriously, but the races are super fun.

It was said above, but get there early and pre-ride the course. The “serious” dudes are warming up on trainers, but for me the technical parts of the course are my limiters so I spend my warm up working on those. The more I can ride the course clean the higher I place. I’m sure at the pointy end watts/kg has it’s place, but mid pack in the C races it’s all about skill.

Practice, Practice, Practice. In the next couple weeks I’ll start heading out to grassy fields and practice getting on and off my bike. I’ll also look for the most crazy off camber grassy hills I can find and ride them up and down along with turning both left and right on them. My local race director loves off camber downhill and uphills turns so I need to practice them like crazy.

It’s a ton of fun. Enjoy the experience.

Not sure where you’re racing, but from a wet and muddy UK point of view I would concentrate on the things that would make it more enjoyable and just let the racing take care of itself.
Get your toolkit sorted, don’t miss a race because you had a mechanical during practice.
Have a warm change of clothes for after the race. It’s pretty grim having to travel home cold and muddy
If you can, buy a cheap second set of wheels, you don’t want to have to stop after flatting on the first lap.
Finally, hang around and watch all of the races and chat to people. I’ve found everyone super friendly and you can pick up a lot of great advice that way.

Have fun, and enjoy it!

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Have to disagree with the “don’t go out too hard on the first lap”. It’s cross, start as hard as you can, and then hang on for the rest of the race :crazy_face:

Maybe not in your very first race. Or if you’re very good and know what you’re doing. But for the rest of us, everyone else will sprint off the line, and if you don’t all that will happen is that you sit behind everybody for the rest of the race.


Have a Blast! You will be amazed at how fun and pain can exist at the same time. Whether you finish first or last there will be another race the next week. There are so many races that go on inside the race. If that is where you are then race each one of those. Learn from the people around you (good and bad).

Good timing from velonews

Especially important is that it’s not all fitness. Half a second lost every turn multiplied by x number of turns and y number of laps means you could easily lose a race with a higher threshold or sprint ability than the racer in front of you. The importance of the first lap and making the right group is also important because even if you fade and eventually get dropped from that group you can only drift back so far due to bottlenecks within a cluster of riders

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Totally correct. If there is a pinch point on the first turn you should be gunning for one of those top 5 spots leading into it.

Carrying speed through corners is absolutely critical, so is trusting the grip in your tires. There are parts of course that can only be ridden at a certain speed despite threshold. In other words, a person with a 400w threshold will be riding it at the same speed as someone with a 300w threshold due to the design of the course. Trying to put out more power just isn’t possible or would lead to going off course, crashing, etc.

The key is being able to not bleed off too much speed by over-braking…I see so many roadies ride too gingerly through sections that could be ridden flat out.

As you move up in categories there is more emphasis put on being a better bike handler given most everyone is comparable fitness-wise.


Remember, we are talking to a new CXer, Cat 5. The most important thing is that he finish the race on a positive note, which in my book means positive splits on the laps. It doesn’t do any good to go out super hard in the first lap and then blow up and have everyone pass you in second half of the race.


Can’t believe no one has suggested getting a ridiculous looking skinsuit, theres a ton of wild looking ones on AliExpress!


The most important lesson for the first season is to never pass on a handup, and more cowbell is always the right answer.


This. And just try to bunny hop a barrier at least once.