I'm new to CX and competed in 2 CX events over the last month. I'm in the best condition that I've ever been, over the last 2 season I'm in the top 5 racing MTB and I'm moving up to Sportsman for next year. I thought that I would take up CX because it looks like a lot of fun and to keep that competitive edge. My bike handling skills are fine what I can't figure is how I'm getting beat so badly? I thought that I would do rather well instead I'm redlined and getting passed like I'm honestly standing still only to end up finishing midpack. So my question how does one train for CX?
My understanding of XC MTB races are they are more of an endurance sport, multiple hour events, with fewer needs for maximum accelerations. If you are good at those types of events (sounds like you are), CX is a different beast. Shorter event, so typically higher intensity. You also have the added "fun" of near constant cornering, so you are slowing down to turn, then should be sprinting out of the turn, only to slow back down. That start/stop cadence takes alot more out of you than finding your longer term comfort zone with some occassional needs to pick up the pace.
As for training, you probably should be focusing on the explosive power and fast recovery most courses require. Intervals that are on the shorter side should help condition the body around those types of efforts.
The best training for racing is racing. The other big deal is tire pressure. I race P/1/2 and this past weekend had too much air pressure in my front tire and had to get on the brakes through corners - and was kicking myself for not getting it right in warmup. And yes the other key is a good warmup since the 30-45-60m race is so short you need to be warmed up and hurting/feeling it before the start whistle. I generally ride the course before the race before the race before mine in plain clothes, then get changed during the race before the race before mine, then get on the course to see good lines, feel 'no brakes' corners and pick places to attack, then get on my trainer during the race before mine. I do 5-10m of easy pedaling, then 1min of high cadence and 1min easy pedaling, 1min of high cadence, 1m easy pedal, 1min MAX effort (I'm talking feeling it, hardest gear on the bike (presuming 38, 40, 46 x 11)), 1m easy pedal, 30s MAX effort, then a few more mins of easy pedaling as my HR drops back to 120-130. Then take the pit bike over and head to the start line.
Hit me with questions - good luck!
Thank you for the replys. Bike setup isn't an issue, I stepped up from the beginning and bought tubulars and have quickly figured out the differences that tire pressure plays. The skills that I have for MTB have shifted just nicely for CX, I'm able to pass several rides in the technical sections...only to get repassed. LOL. It's apparent that my endurance for MTB hasn't crossed over well with the all out efforts required for CX racing. Also, the lack for sufficient warm-up isn't helping. I've read up on intervals and will start playing around with them after I post this reply, I'm interested how it will translate into MTB racing. Too bad that there's only 3 races left in the CX series out here but I'll be ready for next year!