You’ve read Cyclocross 101, and now you are ready to jump in to learning a fun new sport! But… how are you going to get started? So many new skills and it is all a little scary. I eased my way into the sport by attending a clinic. This time of year, you can find a variety of camps and clinics, many free or low-cost. One thing I have found about the sport is that the other athletes are SUPER WELCOMING. They are a lot like trail runners in that regard. They are happy to answer questions, demonstrate skills, even prep your bike. Really! Super friendly. I did a women’s only clinic, and it was even better!
Today’s interview is with Mark Savery, a racer with Trek Cyclocross Collective and Marketing Director for Trek Bicycle Store of Kansas City. Mark is also the 2013 Masters World Cyclocross Champion,and a four-time silver medalist Masters National Cyclocross Champion with 50+ career wins. (He knows his ‘cross, y’all.)
I met Mark at a clinic last year and asked him to answer some questions about camps / clinics.
What type of people sign up for cyclocross clinics?
Cyclocross clinics are great for everyone regardless of ability. Most of us spend our summers racing road, mountain or gravel and our skills get a bit rusty. A Cyclocross clinic is a great way to get back in the groove and start the season on the right foot with proper technique and a good helping of repetitive practice.
Tell me about the people who put on the cyclocross clinics. What type of instructors should I look for?
Typically clinics will be put on by local area coaches and if you’re lucky enough they’ll have the resources to bring in a pro athlete to add additional insight. Most importantly though, is finding a clinic with instructors that are passionate about cyclocross. Cross is unique in that it is as much about technique as it is about fitness, and finding someone that knows all the finite details of the techniques is critical.
What can I expect for a general structure?
Depending on the size of the clinic you’ll usually be split into groups of around 10 participants. These groups will then visit different stations that will include such skills as cornering, dismounting and barriers, shouldering, starts and sand riding. Cyclocross is the most highly skilled of all cycling disciplines. If you can better your technique to ride even a half second faster in a corner, over the course of a race that can add up to almost a minute by the finish line. Look at your last event and see how many people were a minute ahead of you. You just moved up in the results without even training harder!
What should I bring to the clinic?
Or what not to bring to a clinic! The first thing to do is remove your water bottle cages. Frame mounted cages will make it difficult to shoulder your bike and will grab clothing. While we’re talking about clothing, stay away from baggy shorts and loose fitting jerseys or t-shirts, these items will snag on handlebars and saddles and can cause a crash. Always bring a bottle and keep it with you stuffed in your jersey pocket. Most clinics will provide food and drink so really all you need is your bike and your cycling kit including your helmet. It’s always a good idea to get your bike tuned up before hand, especially if you haven’t ridden your cross bike since last season. The quickest way to ruin your day is by standing on the sidelines with a malfunctioning bike.
What topics / skills are generally covered in a newbie clinic? How about intermediate?
Your beginner clinics will focus on just the basics. Proper technique getting on and off the bike, as well as learning how to properly corner. It’s all about building confidence on and off the bike. As clinics become more advanced you’ll focus on completing skills at faster speeds and learning things like how to set up corners to pass other riders.
Thanks, Mark! We are pumped to go to camp! Up next, our first cyclocross race…. Whaaaaaat?