Cyclo-cross is one discipline of cycling that requires a good start to your race. With it being a very high intensity sport and only 1 hour long, a bad start cannot win you a race but can definitely lose you a race and is something that many riders overlook! Having the perfect start to your race is not as easy as it seems which is why including some practice starts in your training can make the difference come race day. There are also many other external factors that can affect your start such as pre-race nerves. Everybody gets them but it is how you can control them that makes all the difference. Being able to control them will allow you to focus on the start to your race. I’ve got 5 top tips on how to perfect your starting technique to get you in a good position at the beginning of a race.
How to Perfect your Starting Technique
Being relaxed at the start line is the first and most important step to your perfect start. Being too nervous and stressed uses up unnecessary energy and can weaken the body. Being relaxed and controlled on the start line allows your head to stay clear allowing you to focus on the getting that perfect start and the race ahead. After all there is nothing you can do to your performance 30 seconds before the start so worrying about it is only going to make it worse.
Choose the correct start box
It sounds like a simple thing that’s because it is! If you have a choice of where you can go on the grid make sure you choose the correct side ( depending on where the first corner goes) if the first corner is going right then choose any box closest to the left hand side, this will allow you to hold more speed through the first corner. If you are on the second row or behind then choose somebody who you know is fast from the start to go behind this will allow you to also have a good start as the rider in front is not holding you up.
Select the correct gear
Selecting the correct gear before the start is really important. Every person is different so trying this in training or on practice laps will help you decide what suits you best. Always make sure that the gear you select is not to big as it can be very hard to turn over fast on the other hand make sure it’s not to light because you can spin to fast and also lose speed. It can take time but you will know what gear is correct by for you from you own personal feel.
Cranks and Pedal Level
Once you are in the correct gear, having your cranks level (9 o clock – 3 o clock) puts you in the ready position before the whistle is blown. Also having your pedal which you are going to clip into level will make your clip in easier and will reduce the chance you missing your pedals. It also allows you to push down on your pedals when you push off.
Push and Clip in
The final push and clip is the last and final stage to your perfect start. Always put you leading leg or your leg you feel most comfortable clipped in and ready and your other foot on the floor. It can take some practice to get a smooth transition from your foot on the floor to clipping in first time. But once mastered will allow you to get away and hopefully make up places on other rider that have had a bad start or are not so smooth. Always remember that before the whistle is blown you must have one foot on the floor.
Joe is a Elite Mountain Biker and Cyclo-cross rider for Torq Performance who is having a outstanding Cyclo-cross season so far.
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Joe Griffiths Racing for Torq Performance