By ALPathlete Andy Bennett (coached by Jennifer Sharp)
Going into my second career cyclo-cross race, my goal was to minimize the time off the bike. I knew I would be able to gain time on the field if I could ride the “run ups’ and bunny hop the barrier. During my race warmup/pre ride I spent extra time on these sections to make sure I was comfortable approaching them at race pace. The first “run up” was shorter of the two, but far steeper than the other with a technical run in. Being able to ride this section would allow me to gap others coming into the next switch back section. Ideally, having a clear shot into the run up would provide me with the best chance of riding it. If I was coming into this part of the course with riders in front of me, I would slightly back off allowing space between us. I did this for two reasons:
· If the other riders were not able to ride the “run up” this would create a bottle neck, which I would be stuck behind
· This extra room would allow me to accelerate into the “run up”, allowing me to carry more momentum into the steepest section
The second “run up” was longer with a couple different lines, which allowed for passing if need be. However, leading up to this “run up” I tried to pass the rider(s) in front of me to avoid a bottle neck situation, or having to use extra energy passing someone on the climb. For me, key for riding this “run up” was keeping my speed up on the loose off camber left hand turn leading into this feature.
I was extremely comfortable with the barrier section, growing up racing BMX has enabled me to learn how to bunny hop over various objects with little or a lot of speed. Learning how to bunny hop on my cross bike has taken some time to adjust to.
There are two hand positions one can use while bunny hopping on a cross bike.
· Hands up on the hoods
· Hands placed on the flat bar
I prefer having my hands up on the hoods while bunny hopping; I believe it provides with a little extra leverage while pulling the handle bars up into my torso. I have found having my hands on the flat bar works better at slower speeds, while your hands are on the flat bar (like a mountain bike) you can help lift the front wheel up onto an object as you accelerate. Trying to do this while your hands are on the hoods is rather difficult because you’re reaching forward more, causing more weight to be over the front wheel. Having practiced bunny hoping allowed me to be extremely comfortable while I jumped the barriers.
Thanks for the insight Andy! Good luck!