Video: Cyclocross skills with Vecchiojo

Jo Burt takes a cyclocross novice through the need to know bits of 'cross racing

by Tony Farrelly   November 25, 2011  

Cyclocross tyre.png

Mud, cowbells, beer, more mud… It’s cyclocross season and it’s time for you to get amongst it. Here’s how....

Our man Jo Burt or as he's know in these parts, Vecchiojo, is a cyclocross old hand. He’s been at it years, man and boy. A dedicated mud-plugger.

Our man Mat, on the other hand: never been on a cyclocross bike in his life. Well, that’s not quite true. He did once. In 1997. On some bone-dry bridleways. But that doesn’t count. We thought it would be funny, sorry, instructive for Jo to show him how it’s done.

So we waited for a rainy day – these things are best done on rainy days – and sent the pair of them off to the top of the biggest hill in Bath to run through the basic skills. And, of course, we filmed it so that you can learn ’em too.

Getting off your bike is easy. Getting off quickly and smoothly and not falling on your face in the process – that’s a bit more tricky. Watch the vid and Jo will you how it’s done… the getting off quicly and smoothly that is.

Getting your bike up on your shoulder and running with it… well, they didn’t teach you that when you were doing your Cycling Proficiency Test, did they? Fear not. That's covered here too.

Jumping over obstacles while you’re carrying your bike? Getting back in the saddle without slipping in the mud or losing any speed? Hmm! Those are quite difficult techniques… But not if you follow Jo’s advice. That boy is so fluid it’s a delight to behold.

So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the show.

10 user comments

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Iffy carrying technique at 5.07, the bike will be far less stable than the normal method of arm going under the down tube once the bike is on the shoulder and then grasping the end of the drops... ;->

posted by otleyrich [9 posts]
26th November 2011 - 12:22

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Mat, I see you'd got your bidon back by the end of the piece. I hope you made Jo go and fetch it.

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posted by Low Speed Wobble [137 posts]
26th November 2011 - 13:26

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I love the way on race day the track turns into 3 inch deep fondant mud after only a few laps. I swear during the last one I did I put my foot down and it disappeared under the surface. My wife came to watch just the once. I arrived back at the car coated in muck - she was similarly covered after taking our toddler for a pee in the dank surrounding woods. "Not really a spectator sport is it....?" was her comment. Wise words.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [936 posts]
26th November 2011 - 14:34

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good movember effort Mat - at least I hope it's for movember... I like Jo's comment "it's a triple chainset so it's a touring bike", I just converted my crosser to a single up front but haven't raced tested it yet, hopefully next weekend if I shift this cold.

The thing I like about cx racing, apart from the excuse to justify another bike is that you race against your peers and it seems fairly devoid of ego, posing and attitude. Mud is a great leveller.

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posted by joemmo [697 posts]
26th November 2011 - 16:13

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Mat needs to keep that moustache... its banging!

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posted by Trev Allen [162 posts]
26th November 2011 - 18:15

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I think he should have mentioned that 30psi is a good place to START for pressure. A little more if you're heavier or if the course is rocky, and a little less if the course is soft and muddy. Even on clinchers, I ran 28-30psi. (Actually, my tubulars are more supple, so I need to run them at 32 for the same feeling, but they won't pinch flat.)

I ran 40-50psi for years, and it's SLOWER. The bouncing will ruin your traction and if you can't keep the wheels on the ground, even the straightaways will be slow.

Seriously. Start at 30. You should NEVER need more than 35 unless you're enormous.

posted by CyclistAtLarge [8 posts]
27th November 2011 - 2:00

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Okay, now that I've watched past the halfway point to the end, more criticisms:

1) That carry technique on the shoulder isn't ideal, but if it works for you, that's fine. It's more standard to loop your arm down and under the downtube to take the weight off the shoulder and spread it to the forearm as well. While your arm is under there, you grab the drops to stabilize the front wheel and keep it from flopping about.

2) Don't put your bike down so hard after a carry. Do that enough, I guarantee you'll bounce the chain off the bike and have to spend precious seconds fixing it.

3) Unclip your dominant foot FIRST. Ride unclipped for 2 or 3 pedal strokes if you have to. Then unclip the other foot, swing over, and dismount. If you wait until the last second to unclip the dominant foot, panic manoeuvres are a bit more dicey. It
only takes once to put your teeth into a barrier.

3a) Don't LEAP over the barrier. Run. You've seen hurdlers? They don't leap, they take a giant step over the barrier. Don't stutter step before the barrier.

4) Do NOT just fling yourself on the bike; that's a way to crush a testicle. Don't stutter step either. Re-mounting should be little more than taking a step onto the bike. Your seat should be low enough that there's no 'flinging' involved. Go watch a video of Belgian CX, and you'll see what I mean. Anything where you're jumping or making grand motions is slower and wastes energy.

posted by CyclistAtLarge [8 posts]
27th November 2011 - 14:34

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CyclistAtLarge - Whlist your points all seem valid, try to remember we're not all Pro like you, and this is a useful introduction to cyclocross- not perfect, but then you didn't make it so clearly it wouldn't be!

I'd like to know what a good pedal/shoe set up would be, anyone?
I'm planning to use my hardtail mountain bike, with spd mtb shoes with double sided shimanos, not sure if that would be best if I did get a cyclocross bike tho

posted by pmr [147 posts]
28th November 2011 - 11:14

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CyclistAtLarge wrote:
I think he should have mentioned that 30psi is a good place to START for pressure.

hmm, i was running about 40 the other day and feeling the rim on roots and bumps, required tyre pressure can vary greatly between tyres, and even the riding style of a particular cyclist, or even the same cyclist, i definitely could do with more tyre pressure towards the end of a ride/race when i'm tired and riding 'heavy'. as mentioned, personal trial and error.

CyclistAtLarge wrote:
Okay, now that I've watched past the halfway point to the end, more criticisms:

1) That carry technique on the shoulder isn't ideal, but if it works for you, that's fine.

it works for me

CyclistAtLarge wrote:
2) Don't put your bike down so hard after a carry. Do that enough, I guarantee you'll bounce the chain off the bike and have to spend precious seconds fixing it.

in 20 odd years of CX riding and racing it's never happened to me

CyclistAtLarge wrote:
3) Unclip your dominant foot FIRST. Ride unclipped for 2 or 3 pedal strokes if you have to. Then unclip the other foot, swing over, and dismount. If you wait until the last second to unclip the dominant foot, panic manoeuvres are a bit more dicey. It only takes once to put your teeth into a barrier.

that's the whole point of practising these manoeuvres, so can do them right each time and not panic

CyclistAtLarge wrote:
3a) Don't LEAP over the barrier. Run. You've seen hurdlers? They don't leap, they take a giant step over the barrier. Don't stutter step before the barrier.

i'm a cyclist, not a hurdler, just trying to leap a barrier the best i can whilst my heart is trying to leap out of my throat

pmr wrote:
I'd like to know what a good pedal/shoe set up would be, anyone?
I'm planning to use my hardtail mountain bike, with spd mtb shoes with double sided shimanos, not sure if that would be best if I did get a cyclocross bike tho

most riders use their preferred MTB shoe and clipless pedal combo, although i did see someone using clips and straps yesterday

posted by VecchioJo [722 posts]
28th November 2011 - 11:49

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2'18" Did he say "Sweating out of your arse?"

Kind Regards

Jono

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posted by JonoB [46 posts]
3rd December 2011 - 13:29

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