Cyclocross is offically here! The local road racing season is finished with the exception of a fall mid-week TT series. For those of us who know better, it is time to put away the TT bike and get the CX bike dusted off. Personally, I dusted mine off a few weeks ago and while I’ve been riding it a bit, yesterday was my first proper CX workout.
I’ve found cyclocross to be a good bridge between seasons. The professional road calendar may start in early February, here in Colorado it doesn’t really pick up steam until April or May. Some roadies attempt to start their buildup for the following season in November, but I’ve seen them burn out or get injured before the season has even started. I’ve found that cyclocross is a great way to have fun and stay in shape before staring road training in the first week of January.
Of course, I take it more seriously that that. I can’t seem to be able to just race for fun. Also, my cross seasons have always eclipsed my preceding road season in terms of results. This year that may be a tall order, but I am excited to see what I can do. I have some more traveling on tap, and will be starting off in only a week with a trip to CrossVegas, which despite it’s incredibly early position on the calendar, is the largest Pro only cyclocross race in the United States.
I needed a decent break from my road season, so like many others I am not going to CrossVegas on top form. I have been on the CX bike a bit, but it wasn’t until yesterday I rode some laps at a local course and ran a few hot laps with dismounts/etc. I’ll be racing my first and only race before CrossVegas on Sunday. There is a slim chance I can find a way out of a few hours at work on Saturday to sneak in another race, but I’ll need to ask a few favors to make it happen.
I had three days off before yesterday’s cross session. This is usually a good amount of time for me to feel well rested. If I’ve had that much time off, I’ve found that ‘openers’ will help me feel better the next day. Yesterday’s cross workout had about 10 minutes at race pace in two five minute efforts, perfect ‘openers’. Today I did my pre-race prep and when the baby was napping I ‘sat down’ for my first threshold test since April.
My legs felt good from the first few minutes. I can especially tell how my legs are going on the rollers in my living room. I think the identical conditions and power meter help most with this. I spend about 5 minutes at a recovery pace, and then if I increase to a endurance pace and don’t see much heart rate response or feel any complaint from the legs, it means I am good to go. A bad day on the rollers is pretty obvious because even an endurance pace feels much harder than it does out on the road.
I use Joe Friel’s FTP Confirmation Test because the results are repeatable and the workout is not too hard or too easy. I start at mid-tempo wattage, and ride for four minutes, with one minute rest. I then increase the wattage by 10 watts per four minute work interval. When I reach my well established LTHR (164, my max is 179), my wattage during that effort is a good approximation of my LTHR. Today I recorded my highest ever at 360w TrainingPeaks data). Last year my highest test was 340w. At first I was very surprised, but considering my results on the road I knew I’d made a bit of improvement.
Over the summer race season I didn’t bother to test, and simply let improving race results be my guide. I also wasn’t racing with my power meter, so I didn’t have any race data. I’ll also be on my own a bit for cyclocross, as I won’t have a power meter on the CX bike either. However, the new numbers will be useful for the increasing amount of indoor intervals as the season progresses and the weather worsens.