You’re short of time but you still want to be the local hero on your home trails? The gym’s packed with pumped-up chavs and you’d rather be outside anyway? Then perhaps cyclocross could be the right sort of winter training for you. We got the guys from SCOTT Bike24 Mountain bike Race Team to show us just how much fun you can have in the snow on skinny tyres.
A cross bike is as flexible as your dropper post – think easy road ride to boost your endurance, or punchy intervals for some extra power. That’s why there are so many irrefutable reasons to get out on your skinny-tyred cross bike in winter.
Advantages to cross bikes:
given the low rolling resistance (similar to road bikes), any effort when riding is pretty evenly dosed.
long endurance-based rides are easy to pull off.
put the rollers away and get outside for some proper intervals.
thanks to their minimal set-up, simple trails can easily be ridden on the cross bike.
train your motor and coordination.
improve the core stability.
far less maintenance to carry out on your cyclo cross bike.
Tips for a fun time on your cross bike:
Ease yourself into it! First check out how your cross bike rides. The tyres slip quickly, but usually find control in the end, the brakes are like a VW Golf 1 [read: dated] and you’re the suspension. So keep loose.
Even tough trails can be conquered on the cross bike. Keep your gaze firmly ahead so you can pick out the ideal line and keep your pace – remember, speed and momentum, are your friend. There’s no better way to train your eyesight and your reactions.
Challenge your mates to a sprint battle – not only fun, it’ll train you for those much-needed bursts of power.
Less is more! You’ll profit more from a higher cadence than a higher speed – it’ll train your motor skills and it’s particularly good in the cold in order to get your body used to such feats of endurance.
The so-called ‘fear levers’ brake levers placed in the middle of your handlebars eases the transition to road bike style handlebars.
Just like mountain bike, it’s probably wise to go tubeless so you’ll spend far less time sorting out punctures in the woods and can ride a lower tyre pressure, giving you more grip.
Your position is noticeably different to how you ride your mountain bike. Make sure your handlebars aren’t too low, especially at first. We’d recommend having your handlebars and saddle at roughly the same height.
If you still don’t ride clipless then a cross bike is the perfect opportunity to get used to them. Clicking in and out is essential here, especially when it comes to the supreme discipline of running over the obstacles.
Words: Lutz Baumgärtel / Florian Schön | Pictures: Andreas Grünewald