What would a power-profile look like for a CX athlete?

I’m getting ready to start CX season and since basically everyone claims FTP has little to no value in CX, what should I use to determine if I am on track? I’ve spent over half of the year in hotels so my fitness is bad and not really sure how to measure the miserable numbers and determine if I should even attempt to race. I cannot take another year of cat-4 mid-pack riding, need to move up or move on with my life.

I don’t know what a cx racer’s power profile is supposed to look like, but I do know that cyclocross races are still a fun challenge, even when you can’t stay up at the pointy end of the race the whole time (unlike criteriums, which suck if you get dropped).

Also, my family is actually willing to come hang out at cross races, because of their spectator friendly nature and positive community vibe (plus, the beer garden doesn’t hurt). I’d have to bribe them to come out to a criterium though.

I raced my first season of cx in category 5 with an FTP around 200 watts (weighing around 147 lbs) and little-to-no VO2 repeatability (and no idea of how to turn on dirt, grass, or those stupid pine needles). If I started up front, I could hang with the leaders for the first lap, but couldn’t match their accelerations after that.

Starting in the middle of a larger field (50-75 riders) at Cross Crusade, I’d finish in the teens. Either way, most of my races were spent racing the course and trying to figure out the fastest way around the obstacles. And it was always fun.

Last year I missed the whole cx season when I crashed on a training ride and broke my back, so I’d say get out and race if you’re physically able and go out and watch if you aren’t.

My FTP is still around 200 watts and my turning still sucks, but my goal for cross season is to upgrade to cat 3 so I can race masters when nationals come to Tacoma this year. Whatever the results are this year, I’m sure it will be better to be racing than wearing a back brace and using a walker.



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@TLRozzle, just imagine you are Julian Alaphilipe in how he attacks a course, but in the company of whoever is just ahead or behind you -thats your race. Your final position in the race doesnt matter until you review it comparing it with your direct competitors. Just ride the course and try like youve never tried before - you cant ask more of yourself than that.

I don’t agree to this statement an think most CX won’t. I would rather say a good FTP/V02max is necessary, but is not sufficient. On top if that a good Pmax and anaerobic work capacity is very useful.
Besides the technical skill of course.

But your overall result result will be characterized by the aerobic endurance. It’s also a determinant how fast you recover from anaerobic bursts.


In my case, going home on Wednesday…would you do a ton of aerobic riding for the remainder of the month and expect a bump in fitness or plan on the 2020 season? My long term goal was to make it to cat-3 for the 2020 nationals and race with some dignity, have a bedroom in Chicago so it’s convenient.

I have recently just laid out my plans for the season. I will be doing a low volume plan with the other days of the week being skills sessions. Skills work like dismount and remount and cornering drills can be performed near active recover and still extremely beneficial. You also have to look at when your local races take place.

Can you skip racing in September and still get 15 races in like I can in the Ohio river valley, or is there only a few? Knowing that cross isn’t all about power but skill as well is key.

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We have a Tuesday weeknight series, Wednesday series, and races 2-3 weekends per month. I usually do 2-3 races on Wednesdays, probably 50-60 races per season.

If you’re racing 3x a week, I wouldn’t worry about training, I’d just worry about recovery.

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Well, it doesn’t look like I’m racing at all this season due to weak fitness. Might need to train until December, then do a few races.

Why not just get out there and give it a shot?

These people are wrong, btw.


I should probably use that time to gain fitness, rather than wasting 4-months so that next year I can be respectable.

Do one of those midweek races every week, you’ll gain fitness and skills. Don’t worry about the results. It’s hard to replicate some of the demands of cross racing with training alone.

I agree with @Thorsten

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With that kind of attitude I would just move on and give up on racing. You’re never going to be the fastest. If you upgrade from cat 4, your just going to be mid pack cat 3, after that you’ll just be back of the pack in cat 1/2. However, even the cat 1/2 guys are slow compared to the guys racing UCI. Some of the most fun I’ve ever had racing cross in the cat 5 races here in the Chicago region. So many guys of different abilities that you’ll always find someone to battle and the atmosphere of the lower categories is a lot more party than serious.

The point is, if you don’t enjoy the racing now, you’re not going to enjoy it when you’re faster as there’s always going to be a ton of folks faster than you.

If you’re dead set on racing, there’s no time like the present to keep at it. There’s valuable skills to learn in actually doing the thing, numbers on a trainer are great, but they don’t necessarily translate to a sport like cyclocross unless you can execute.

That being said, I would say FTP absolutely does matter in cyclocross. A lot of the courses you really can ride with pretty consistent power. Sure it helps to have a good punch, but unlike crit racing, you have to have constant power over the entire race. There’s no sitting in the draft and then putting in a huge effort in the last minute to take a win. You basically have to sit at threshold the entire time in cross.


@TLRozzle, set a note in next year’s calendar for May 2020, " Start preparation for CX season". No excuses then for not being fit enough for racing.

There’s always work, lol. 100+ nights in hotels so far this year.

I used to work away a lot, but would take the bike and find some routes. Seen riders doing turbo in car parks, but have to be oblivious to getting funny looks. Don’t need a fan outside either.

Yeah, I travel with a smart trainer if the site is close enough, Orucase for longer distances.