Training for ‘Cross

I recently upgraded my phone, tablet, laptop, and TV to their most modern respective operating systems. These devices are now are so interconnected that they know what I want long before I do. In fact, I might not want it all, but no one can tell because I’m already doing what they told me I want to do. Presumably while driving.

I have become quite adept at texting while riding my bike. My phone buzzes, I reach into my pocket, examine the message, and determine whether I should answer that particular buzz immediately or wait until I’m at a stop or at home. I don’t navigate any kind of logic tree to make this determination; I simply respond to my inner monkey and tap away my inane response. I should not have this skill, texting while riding. By all rights I shouldn’t even have my phone with me. I shouldn’t need to be reachable when I’m on my bike. That’s part of the point of being on my bike.

There is something about being out in the wilderness that flips a primal reset switch in my soul. Mountain biking and backcountry skiing often take us away from phone networks and traffic the way little else can. The problem with mountain biking is a lack of the hypnotic rhythm that riding on the road offers, which is part of the enormous appeal of riding a bicycle; the rhythm of the legs pedalling along has a trance-like quality to it and the spell is broken whenever the bike hits a root or a rock or a rut. This, for me, is the appeal of a good gravel ride or even a good Cyclocross ride: you’re still on a road bike with most of its hypnotic trappings, but you still get to descend into the wilderness and experience the great escape from technology. Along with just enough technical riding to make a tantalizing cocktail of Awesomeness.

Fall is here, which means the road season is all but behind us; ahead of us lie chilly, wet rides in our Flandrian Best. And Cyclocross. I have an extensive background riding rigid mountain bikes in the 90’s, which makes me almost automatically good at Cyclocross. Except Cyclocross also includes running and remounting. My basic trouble with training for ‘Cross is that I never do my drills for things like remounting. My remount looks like a wounded duck trying to ride a pogo stick. I could master it, of that I’m certain, but once I’m riding my bike I find it nearly impossible to climb off just for the privilege of climbing back on.

In the immortal words of @G’rilla: I don’t cross-train. I train for ‘cross.

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53 Replies to “Training for ‘Cross”

  1. Buck – good news! I spotted the bastard dog AGAIN this weekend running freely. Followed up with the sheriff, going to file a claim with the dog owner/house owner’s insurance.

    Thank fuck I’m not very big and only 64 kgs, as the shots are based on weight and increase in price. Just to blow your mind for the day: total ER bill for 6 shots which took all of 2 minutes to administer: $22,000. Even with insurance I was left with a $5500 bill for trying to be a nice neighbor. Who says the health care system in America is fucked? I can’t believe it, as rabies shots are not rare. If people want to expose the epi pen BS…let’s talk about immunoglobin. The pharmacy portion of the bill was $18,000.

    If I can save this $5500 bill…my Bike Shed Dream is back from the dead!

  2. @chris


    Na, never take a call or text while riding. I usually only use my phone to send the obligatory “look, I’ve gone a bit further than planned and I’m going to be late home” text, or for an emergency call “Yeah, I’m only 10km from the chalet but the road is blocked so I’ve got to go all the way back. Yes, over the Tourmalet again”.

    Emergency text home.

    I’ve gone for a ride. I’ll be back in an hour. If I’m not back in an hour, read this text again.


  3. @Rick


    I am not sure how many of you have ever trained for the cyclocross season. In years past, I would come out of the regular season and jump on my cross bike and just race. This year I actually have been putting in the effort to work on specific skills and run with and without the bike. I can not believe how sore my legs are from the training I did last Thursday evening. I actually had to cut my Saturday group ride short because my legs had no power and burned with the slightest efforts. My legs are still tender on Monday. I have a new found respect for the men and women that train for cross season. I thought I was in shape having one of my best road seasons in years. But, my legs could not tolerate an hour of cyclocross training without screaming back at me. Who has been there?

    I have not trained for cyclocross but I can relate to your running experience. Back when running was my primary avocation I ran with a group once or twice a week. Even at almost 40 pounds above my current weight, I was one of the fastest in the group. When I began road cycling four nights a week I assumed that I could continue running once a week or so. I believed the weight loss from road cycling would transfer to faster runs. Nothing could be further than the truth! Even after losing 20% of my body weight I couldn’t keep up with the slower members of the group. The repetitive nature of cycling had developed my muscles in a certain way and it felt as if my legs were fighting themselves in order to run even a few feet.

    Therefore, I am not surprised that your best road biking season has made running, with or without a bike, more difficult.


    I am with you on the legs seeming to lack the coordination for running after a season on the bike.  I also used to run 5 and 10K races and even ran a few half marathons in the past.  They were solid efforts and I specifically trained for them.  But after ankle surgery, I really could not continue to run without swelling up my ankle and hobbling around for days after.  My cardio is very good now, but the cardio you gain from running (fast) surpasses on the bike cardio.  The running I did last week just beat the snot out of my legs.  Foam roller to the rescue.

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