Team members of Naked Women’s Racing, winners of the 2014/2015 Colorado Cross Cup Team Competition SW3, were asked a few burning questions about Cyclocross. Fun was the word most often used.
What is THE most important technical skill to master if you want to be successful at CX?
Natalia: Mounting & dismounting.
Brittany: Holding speed through tight and/or loose corners. If you can get your cornering technique dialed, you’ll gap a lot of people and stay with the fasties that are trying to drop you.
Nicole: Turning your bike.
Amanda: Cheering for teammies while heart rate is tapped out.
Emily: Taking a handup.
Which is more difficult a Crit or a CX race?
Natalia: Crit, because you take corners at much faster speeds and you have to be comfortable around others and trust their wheels.
Gayle: CX race… definitely….CX racing is all-out effort the entire race. No sitting in the pack waiting for someone to make a move. It is 100% from the time the whistle blows until you cross the finish line.
Jenny: CX because it’s short and high endurance the whole time.
Brittany: CX, hands down. For a lot of a crit, you’re hiding in a pack catching a draft. There’s no hiding or recovering in CX – it’s 100% 100% of the time. Even if you’re in a group and can draft, you’re riding on rough, changing terrain and you’ll need to pay close attention to your line selection. And the lines change a bit every lap.
Nicole: A CX race – in a crit, I can coast in the draft. In a CX race, it’s all my power all the time or lack thereof.
Joan: Crit – scary with all those people frantically trying to stay in the pack.
Amanda: CX race, as you are redlined the whole time and the courses are technical while you are taking adult beverage hand ups.
Emily: CX. You don’t get a full breath of air for 40 mins, you’re slipping and sliding and timing your passes, and if you’re really lucky you’re freezing cold and both you and the course are covered in mud, ice, sweat and just a tiny bit of blood.
One good reason for a roadie to try CX?
Natalia: Skills skills skills!
Gayle: Fun! CX is a more relaxed atmosphere and a great time to learn new skills, meet new people and have some fun.
Brittany: Dirt is good for the soul.
Nicole: Because it’s awesome. And there’s donuts.
Joan: To learn how to ride their bikes.
Amanda: To actually know what pain feels like.
Emily: To bond with a group of people who really want to hang out with you on and off the course. And to bond with your bike in some ways you never had before. And yes, that occasionally includes a sloppy flying mount that ends in a bad crotch shot. You’ll bond.
Absolute favorite not-to-be-missed CX race?
Natalia: Whichever race falls on Halloween because everyone wears costumes.
Gayle: Any race at the Salisbury course in Parker.
Jenny: Whatever one falls on or near Halloween.
Brittany: Rhyolite course in Castle Rock.
Amanda: Love Interlocken because it is so technical.
Emily: The Bowl of Death in deep snow.
Best way to get fit for CX season?
Natalia: High intensity, short intervals and upper body strength exercises (pushups, pullups, etc.).
Gayle: General fitness and skills training.
Jenny: Practice run ups.
Brittany: Meet friends at dusk with lights: beer, doughnut, hot lap, repeat.
Nicole: Intervals, intervals, intervals.
Joan: Running up hills carrying your bike, not something cyclists generally have to do.
Amanda: Begin the season well rested, meaning no training, and then race into shape, vomiting at the end optional.
Emily: Short-burst suffer fests until you’re ready to puke, then chase it down with two beers.
Have to ask, why a skinsuit?
Natalia: Because a jersey can ride up and get in the way when carrying the bike, and you don’t need pockets during a CX race.
Gayle: When you are jumping on and off your bike multiple times in a race you do not want to get a piece of clothing caught up in your bike, handlebars, etc.
Jenny: Faster and won’t get caught on your bike when you carry it.
Brittany: Cross is for superheroes, and we all know capes get caught in drivetrains.
Nicole: It’s like spandex jammies…..
Joan: Not really sure either.
Amanda: It is the most comfortable article of clothing one can own. I may or may not sleep in mine. Chamois time is training time.
Emily: Once I grew out of my infant onesie, I’ve chased the pursuit of spending as much time in life as possible in adult onesies.
Is it all about the bike in CX? Care to name your weapon of choice?
Natalia: Good grippy tires and cleats for your shoes.
Gayle: I race a pretty basic bike because I know I am going to beat it up! Upgraded wheels/tires are a good choice.
Jenny: It’s all about your skills. I race a Focus.
Brittany: Nope, it’s all about the rubber. Tire tread and pressure will make or break a race. I run Vittoria XG Pros tubeless for most races. About 24psi.
Nicole: Any bike with knobby tires will do! Just show up.
Joan: It helps to have a light bike, especially when carrying it up flights of stairs.
Amanda: Specialized carbon frame, tubular wheels with the pressure at 15psi and wanting a new engine at each race.
Emily: Nah, ride what you’ve got and be proud you don’t need to trade out your valve stem and spoke nipples for carbon versions to show up to a CX race. But that said, my Zinn Magster Cross with the perfect set of cotton Challenge tubulars for the day helps.
Anything else you want to add about CX racing?
Natalia: It is nothing but fun!
Gayle: CX is so much fun. Naked has a full force squad at every race and we have a great time while working our butts off!
Jenny: Crazy fun all the time!
Brittany: You will probably not – love/hate your first 2-3 races. Stick with it; the addiction is a slow build.
Nicole: It’s the most fun you will have in a race.
Joan: It’s a lot of fun and you can always get a good laugh about something.
Amanda: It’s absolutely the most fun you can have on a bike, the heckling, cheering and overall good will towards each other, makes racing enjoyable and you can’t help but look totally bad a** in the pictures.
Emily: Two words: Runner’s high. Well, ‘Crosser’s high I guess. Okay, 12 words.
And there you have it. Heckling, handups, and the most fun you can have on a bike.
Author roadie Kate Williams hopes to try CX so she can wear an adult onesie and learn how to ride her bike.