In case you've missed the slew of hopeful pre-season tweets and Instagram posts, here's a reminder: 'cross is here. Not coming, not round the corner - it's officially here and you can get stuck in.
Cyclocross - racing around an often muddy field on a knobbly tyred road bike - is a truly accessible sport. Riders race laps for a set period of time (30 minutes to an hour usually) and it's rarely clear who is at the front and who is at the back.
Unlike some other forms of racing, it's a very low pressure sport if you want it to be. You can train super hard and make it your key focus - but you can also dress up in a tu-tu and have a laugh whilst being lapped multiple times by the leaders.
If you want to do well and come at the front of the pack - or if you just want to challenge yourself and learn something new - there are some essential skills that will help. In a series of videos we’ll be taking you through some of the core skills step by step with cyclocross coach Huw Williams.
We've already covered cyclocross dismounts. Next up: how to tackle a drop off - or steep descent.
What is a Cyclocross Drop Off?
Often found in a cyclocross course, this might be a steep grassy or gravelly bank, which will have to be repeated several times during the race.
The best part about having to repeat the drop off is that with every lap you gain confidence, and with that comes speed and technique.
A top tip is to watch a few of the more experienced riders tackle the element in the warm up lap or in the race before yours- watch the approach, the line taken, and the get away- more importantly make a note of what doesn’t work for riders!
With Huw’s top tips you’ll be confident enough to descend the steepest of banks.
How to: Step by Step Drop Offs
Approaching the drop off: Raise out of the saddle and adopt the ready position, centred on the bike, pedals level and hands on the hoods with fingers covering the brakes.
Keep looking forward: You need to keep your eyes up to identify the best line - don’t look down at the ground.
As you roll over the top: Allow the bike to move forward under you, the saddle moving forward between your legs, bend the elbows slightly as your weight moves back.
Feather both brakes: Use both brakes light at the same time to control the speed, not allowing either wheel to lock and skid and adjust pressure on either pedal to assist steering and direction
As the ground levels out: Now, allow the bike to move back under you and return to the sitting position
Next week we’ll be looking at the next essential skill- shouldering the bike.
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