Power, Stability, and Confidence in the Mud

As cyclocross has grown and developed in the US, we've typically drawn our inspiration from images and stories of European events. And on a continent where there's lots of farmland, lots of rain, and temperatures that rarely go below freezing, that means mud is often a main feature of European races, especially in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, where the sport is most popular.The thing is, you don't need mud for a cyclocross race. Mud is not endemic to the sport, and not necessary for an interesting or enjoyable race. French races are a great example of this, where grassy, fast courses resemble what you might find in New England, and remind us that just like there is no ...

When, Why, and How to Dismount in Cyclocross

Of all the debates about ‘cross equipment choices and proper technique, it continues to amaze and entertain me that every September we renew the dismount debate: to step through, or to step around? And while I might enjoy egging that debate on for laughs, it seems to me that many people could use some straight answers. There will be purists in both camps who will not have their minds changed either way, and many who think that because they get away with a particular technique it must be the “right” way. I argue there is no single “right” way; there are multiple styles and very specific reasons for each, with advantages and disadvantages, all situationally based. I will outline all the ...

The Secret Set Up, Part 3: Shifters, Brakes, and Drivetrain

There are many different ways to set up a cyclocross bike. Most are related to personal preference, but the basic principles that should be adhered to are that the bike should be reliable, light, and simple. The order in which you prioritize these things depends on how fast you are, how serious you are, or how rich you are. For many, reliability is infinitely more important than light weight, because there's nothing slower than a broken bike. For others, there may be a mechanic and two more bikes available in the pits, so while reliability is still crucial, light weight might move up a level.More so than other disciplines, 'cross riders tend to be fanatical about their equipment, hoarding ...

The Secret Set Up, Part 2: Wheels and Tires

In part 1 of The Secret Set Up, I introduced the idea of how difficult it used to be to find reliable information about cyclocross, and how the mysterious cult of 'cross was hard to infiltrate. There's a lot of folklore out there, and a lot of old-school knowledge that not everyone wanted to share. If you've got a seat post in your garage that you drilled a hole in for a brake cable to pass through, or if you've ever glued tire tread to the bottom of a pair of road shoes, then you're one of those old-school insiders. For me, part of becoming a coach and wanting to promote and grow the sport meant that I've always wanted to share that information rather than hoard it.Along those lines, ...

The Secret Set Up, Part 1: Cyclocross Bike Fit

Bike racing has the reputation of being a closed sport. Not necessarily because all cyclists are snobs (though they may be), but more because cycling in the US has been a sport that was difficult to find out about and get started with compared to mainstream ball sports. The people who did discover it found a secret world of Italian racing bikes and pink newspapers, or maybe decided to study French instead of Spanish in high school. Road cycling has always been a special subculture that was hard to crack, and so people were protective of the knowledge they gained, rather than eager to share it.If road racing is a subculture, than cyclocross is another faction subdivided from that: the ...