Cyclocross races aren’t that long—30 to 60 minutes depending on your category—but there are thousands of decisions to make in that concise amount of time. During a race you’re constantly assessing when to draft vs lead, which line to take around a corner, whether to ride or run, when to attack. The more automatic and instinctive those decisions are, the better. Experience over years of racing certainly helps with making these decisions on the fly. However, regardless of your level of expertise, the pre-ride is another essential component to informing and pre-determining race decisions. Here are a few tips to make your pre-rides effective:
Getting your nutrition dialed for cross race can be trickier than you might think. Races are relatively short, but they are also incredibly intense. The only thing I've encountered that comes close to their physical intensity are short-track mountain bike races, but even they are not quite as vomit inducing. Sprinting over barriers and up steep hills by foot as commonly encountered during cross races pushes the intensity level through the roof. You need glycogen stores to be at maximum to fuel these and other anaerobic efforts, but you also don't want much food in your stomach come race time. That is, unless you want to be distracted from going your fastest by burping up breakfast. It's not a pleasant feeling.