Cyclocross is unique in its’ physical demands.  It’s all-out, shut down completely for some twisty turns and then on again at full tilt.  The very fast and fun course at Randall Oaks (thanks Main Street Bicycles and crew) was a good example of this.

Chicago Cyclocross Cup (c) Liz Farina Markel/Tipping Point Photography

Chicago Cyclocross Cup (c) Liz Farina Markel/Tipping Point Photography

Recover when you can’t pedal……It seems pretty obvious but takes some discipline when you’re so fried that you can’t even spit correctly.  Break the course down in your mind during your warm up laps and remind yourself to back off when the course necessitates during the race.  Use those precious moments to breath and collect your thoughts.

Cyclocross takes longer to learn than most endurance sports.  There are so many little things to remember and execute and all while you’re almost completely out of your mind.  So as with anything that we do – barriers, start, turns, etc. – you’re wise to work on this aspect as well.   These are tough!  So do them on a day that makes sense to have hard intervals:

Warm up for at least 20 minutes in zones 1-2 heart rate/power

Do as one continuous effort: 10 seconds race pace (120% or more of your FTP power/race pace), then right into a technical section of turns that take 10 seconds to complete x 9 efforts back to back = 1 interval .  So each interval is 3 minutes in length (20 seconds x 9).

2 minutes of recovery between intervals.

X3 intervals = 1 set.

Take 5 minutes off between sets.

Warm down with at least a 20 minute spin in zones 1-2 heart rate/power


Two or three sets for a 4/5, four or five sets for a cat 3 and six or seven sets for the 1/2/3 bunch is a good hard day on the bike.

As with pyramid intervals the recovery is as much a focus as the power.  Train your mind and body to relax in the technical section.  As with most learned skill repetition is your friend.  It will become a natural thing to do on race day and that is going to provide you with more power where it’s most beneficial.


Rob Kelley