Fixed Gear Crit

Winter Training: 5 Reasons why cyclists should/n’t do cyclocross

The fixed gear crit 2017 season is over and for most fixed gear crit racers this means a couple of weeks off the bike to create a hunger for a new intense training period. Winter time is also perfect to do some crosstraining and train muscles that are neglected during the season, to improve strength in them, or simply gain some power in the legs. With the new series “Winter Training” we will cover several options, talk with experts in the field, and give 5 reasons why fixed gear crit riders should or should not do them. We kick this series off with a sport in the cycling discipline, cyclocross. Many fixed gear crit riders, Alec Briggs, Eleonore Saraiva, Lisa Wörner, and Olivier Leroy to name a few, are doing it on a competitive level, and even more fixed gear riders go out with friends on their CX bike to do some tours. We summed up 5 reasons why fixed gear crit riders should and 5 reasons why they shouldn’t do cyclocross in winter, and we also asked former Red Hook Criterium star and current top US CX rider Dan Chabanov what he thinks about it.
Text: Brian Megens
Header image: Brett Rothmeyer

Alec Briggs – I do CX in winter because it’s more fun than going on road rides in the rain and cold

Andrew Richardson for @specializeduk
Photo by Andrew Richardson for Specialized UK

5 reasons why cyclists should do cyclocross in winter
1. Cyclocross is obviously done on a bike. This means that the muscle groups used in comparison with racing fixed gear crits are relatively similar. However, due to the running and riding through the sand they are also different at the same time. Due to this overlap and differences, cyclocross can be seen as the perfect training in the off-season as it trains the muscles needed for fixed gear crit racing but also strengthens neglected muscle groups.

2. Cyclocross races are like fixed gear crit races short and intense. With cyclocross races being a bit longer this might be even a good ‘extra training’ to be more fresh in the final of a fixed gear crit.

3. Cyclocross is perfect to improve bike handling.

4. Alike fixed gear crit racing, the start in cyclocross races is super important and intense. So by doing cyclocross races, you also train and improve your start in fixed gear crit races.

5. Cyclocross is just super fun to do.

Lisa Worner by Hans Steekers
Lisa Worner photo by Hans Steekers

5 reasons why cyclists shouldn’t do cyclocross in winter
1. To be in top shape during 2 seasons, the fixed gear and cyclocross season, is just too much. In Europe, the cyclocross season starts when the fixed gear crit hasn’t even finished and lasts until the last weeks of February. This means that if one competes in both, they will only have March off. Of course, this can be solved by prioritising one sport over the other and skip a part of the season.

2. Racing on a competitive level in cyclocross is super expensive. When it is muddy, a rider really needs to bring least 2 bikes and 2 to 3 wheel sets to make sure one has proper functioning material to even finish the race.

3. Cyclocross, competitive or not, is very high in maintenance. All the sand coming in the chainwheels and chain must be cleaned and taken care off properly.

4. The winter is a perfect time to explore some new sports and give your body and mind some time away from competition and the bike. This can be done by only riding the CX bike leisurely when one feels like it instead of participation hardcore in races.

5. You just can’t justify spending whole weekends in the off-season on a bike to your girlfriend/boyfriend.

Dan Chabanov – just because something isn’t the perfect training doesn’t mean it’s the wrong training

Photo by Brett Rothmeyer

We asked 3 time Red Hook Crit winner and current top-20 US CX racer Dan Chabanov on what he thinks on fixed gear crit riders switching to cyclocross in the winter. “I’m of two minds on this. Purely from a physiological perspective, I think it’s a waste of time. CX, for the most part, is lower speed and much lower cadence than FGC. The effort also tends to be a lot more on/off. Most cross races will have a ton of coasting in between very hard surges. I think FGC races tend to be way more about making constant power while surging at a much much much higher cadence and being able to consistently maintain that leg speed. The efforts are just so so different apart from being about the same duration. But having said all that, I think it’s hard to beat cross for a very rigorous had winter work out. I also think that bike racers who do things they enjoy and find to be fun tend to be a lot more successful and have more longevity in the sport. SO just because something isn’t the perfect training doesn’t mean it’s the wrong training. Ultimately I think the two seasons don’t overlap too much and you can do both. But one is not ideal prep for the other which doesn’t mean you can’t use one to prep for the other just that you’d have to supplement it with other more targeted workouts.”

Kym Perfetto KymNonStop just released a video on the pros and cons of cyclocross which can be entertaining to watch: