We’ve run a few cyclocross and mountain bike clinics recently where we have been talking about cornering and getting our cranks level before initiating the turn. This “ready position” we’ve nicknamed the “Van der Poel” position, as he frequently seen demonstrating this to set up for corners, technical sections and to help him recover from high intensity bursts of power. Here’s an example if you aren’t familiar with it.
This is a great position to initiate a turn from when on dirt, drop and weight the outside foot and push down on the inside hand to make the turn.
Gear Up coaching will partner with SoCalCross to offer a free cyclocross clinic on Saturday September 14, 2019. With a tag line of “Skills, Drills and Thrills” the clinic will cover cyclocross skills with a breakdown of the techniques, then practice of those skills and the session will finish with a practice race. All skill levels will be catered for. For more details and sign ups, follow the links below:
One of my athletes has a A race coming up in about 10 weeks time and wanted to drop 6 lbs between now and race day. While I’m no dietician, here’s a ten point plan to use as a starting point for anyone contemplating something similar:
Weigh yourself no more than 1-2 times per week. Daily weigh ins aren’t necessary and can be distracting and demotivational. Pick a day, the same day each week and weigh yourself as soon as you get up in the morning (before eating or drinking anything), with no clothes on to be consistent.
Use a smart scale to give an estimate of your resting metabolism. That is the number of calories you expend not doing anything and is a good starting point for calculating how many calories you need to consume.
Track your food. Apps such as myfitnesspal are excellent for this and I would strongly recommend if you are planning on structured weight loss program then you measure everything you consume – don’t omit anything – you’ll only be kidding yourself. Myfitnesspal will also allow you to analyse what you are consuming in terms of macros. What gets measured gets controlled. Just be careful not to become a myfitnesspal bore…. “I don’t know how you can eat that when it has 234 kCal, 21g carbs, 12g of fat and 6g of protein in it” you’ll lose friends very quickly.
Work on 3,500kcal = 1 lb. While not strictly accurate it does give a good indication of what calorie deficit you need to run at to lose 1 lb in weight each week.
Cut out alcohol. Obvious and pretty much everyone knows this. Alcoholic drinks often have high calorie values too – craft beers for example can be around 200kCal per pint (light beers if you must are around 80-100).
Don’t “top and tail” your meals. A beer before dinner and a desert after – instant 500+kCal’s – every night of the week, there’s your pound straight there, but oooh, soooo good.
Look for low caloric density foods. Salads, vegetables, unprocessed foods are significantly less dense in calories that processed foods, meaning you can eat more for less calories. Try eating that cheeseburger after filling up on a huge plate of carrots and lettuce, you won’t be able to do it.
Look for “marginal gains”. Work out from you food tracking what you can cut easily from your diet without noticing to much chose a regular black coffee at Starbucks rather than that Latte for example. Another option is to dish up your dinner and then take 5-10% off the plate – you probably won’t even notice it. Another trick is to use a smaller plate in the first place, it works!
Don’t take your weight loss strategies out on the bike with you. If you don’t consume enough calories on your training rides then you will probably under perform against your training goals and come back hungry and want to devour the contents of your fridge. Not a pretty sight.
Make sure you keep your macros in check. Cutting calories means you need to adjust your diet but make sure you are consuming enough protein, carbohydrate, fat and other nutrients in the recommended proportions. On a similar note, look at carb cycling – reducing carb intake on non training days and increasing on training days to match your training needs. Make sure in particular you are getting enough protein, current recommendations for athletes are much higher than you might think, (for active older athletes it’s 1.2-1.5g protein per 1kg of bodyweight, which is about 30g per meal). Protein also make you feel full for longer so that helps too 🙂
I’ve just been reading an interview with Dutch hard man Niki Terpestra. Well known for his attacking riding and being an all round strong man, a couple of quotes from him resonated with me:
“You know sometimes I just have the feeling or thinking ‘why not?’ Instead of ‘why should I attack?’, it’s just ‘why attack – why not?'”
“I’m not a sheep in the group. I mean, if there are two doors and everyone is standing in line for one door then I am going to check if the other door is closed….And if it’s closed I am going to look like a fool, ‘Yeah, yeah, get in line,’ but if it’s open…. I’m not afraid to try.”
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Terpestra has the legs to back it up of course but he’s right, if you want the best result in a bike race….don’t be a sheep.
I’ve had a couple of questions recently regarding what kind of bike to buy for some cross and gravel action and what is the difference between them. This is probably going to date as the genres progress but at the time of writing this is my take on it…
Bottom line, both are suitable for either (or either are suitable for both maybe?) and a gravel/cross bike will be a ton of fun, but there are differences, some of which you can change easily and some which you can’t. Some things also depend on the brand and the price point…
Things you can’t change:
Geometry – the options are “long and low”, “high and tight” or in some cases somewhere in the middle. Euro cross bikes (eg Ridley, Stevens) have high bb’s and steep angles (“high and tight”) – they are designed to be fast round euro style cross courses (read mud, sharp bends). Being high and tight means they are also relatively not so stable at speed.
“Long and low” geometry (low bottom bracket, longer wheelbase and slacker geometry) has come out from the (more) west coast US style of cross racing (“grass crits”) where speeds and grip are higher and bikes can be laid into fast turns. Companies like, for example, Specialized and Santa Cruz offer bikes of this style.
Gravel bikes tend to be on the slacker end of the spectrum to handle faster descents often found on gravel routes with more stability.
Tire clearance – manufacturers are increasing the clearance for their bikes these days so this is becoming less of an issue but 700x40c is pretty typical for gravel and there is no width restriction for cross either (for most racers racing at grass roots level). Some cross bikes do still have limited clearance though so that is worth watching out for. Some gravel bikes also take 650b wheels with capacity for MTB style (read 2″) tires. The outer diameter is similar to a 700c wheel/tire but the benefit is you have a lot more cushioning and with the right tire drag won’t be too bad either. Its personal decision if you want to go the 650b route, it will require 2 sets of wheels or you to make a decision on one size or the other though.
Things you can change:
Gearing – cross bikes typically have 1x with a max 32 or 28 designed for flat(ish) cross courses, making it hard if you take it on big climbs. Switching to a wide ratio and/or 2x is possible (2x may not be possible depending on frame) so not the end of the world but can get expensive depending on what you are looking for. Gravel bikes have the big gear range but if 1x you have big jumps between the gears which isn’t so good for cross (or riding in a bunch), plus you tend to spin out at 30-35+mph if you want a gear small enough to get up steep climbs too.
Tires – another changeable item – gravel bikes generally have 35mm wide tires (as a minimum, with a tread pattern more akin to semi slicks. These offer good shock absorption and roll better but have less grip. Cross bikes (still) tend to come with 32c intermediate tread tires which drag more on the road but grip better. Some cross frames have limited clearances for tire width so watch for that if that is important to you.
Tires have the ability to transform your ride for the better and/or the worse depending on choice so everyone is always looking for the “holy grail” tire, which of course doesn’t exist. When considering which bike to go with, a critical aspect is to make sure you have the frame clearances that will to enable you to ride wide tires. If you race cross, check with your local organizers but in socal, unless you are racing the few UCI sanctioned races you won’t be checked for tire width so a wide tire for cross can be the way to go.
Another point about gravel bikes vs cross bikes is that gravel bikes often come with utility functionality such as bosses for fenders, extra bottle mounts, rack mounts etc. To save weight, cross bikes are often striped of all of these features save one or two bottle cage mounts inside the frame triangle.
Whether you go for a cross bike or a gravel bike, you will of course be able to use that bike for the other discipline, it may not be perfect, but it will still be a ton of fun. And all this of course confirms the saying that the correct number of bikes to own is “N+1” (where N is the number of bikes you currently own).