With the move to shorter more intense XCO courses the ability to pass and to be passed at speed while racing is an important skill that can affect not only your race but other racers as well.
While this could work for any passing oppourtunity I am mostly speaking about lapping and folks that aren't neccesarrily in your category/age bracket.
If we had the numbers in XCO that we had years ago it would be pure chaos out there but thankfully the numbers have dwindled? Or maybe thats why they have dwindled?...... another blog post maybe.
We'll start with the passing rule from the UCI.
4.1.034 A rider must act in a sporting manner at all times and must permit any faster rider to overtake without obstructing.
So if your at a race governed by a PSO or NSO there you have it, if a faster rider wants by you must let them by. (please don't get angry yet) It doesn't say anything about you must stop immediatly or launch yourself off a trail. And in cases of racing in your own category its kinda a BS rule as positioning is a part of racing. If rider A beats rider B into the singletrack and rides it slow well thats the way the cookie crumbles. If this rule was enforced at world cups 98% of the field would be DQ'd for obstructing the trail. No names #cougheuroscough
But I digress back to our world of provincial and national level XCO racing with multiple categories on the course at the same time. So we've agreed to being good sports and letting folks past and passing with respect when an oppoutunity presents itself. Step 1 done. Now the execution of said pass. There are not hard and fast rules here, but what I like to do is call out to the rider with as much notice as possible. “rider up” or “2 elite* riders up” giving them a heads up that we are not in the same category as them and allowing them to start thinking about the pass. We'll call that the approach.
For the passe, KEEP MOVING if there is nowhere safe or appropriate to let the passer by, keep pedaling and riding as fast as you can. Some people start to panic and hit their brakes slowing down the whole train. Can't tell you how many people I've hit from behind cause they grab two fistfulls of brake on a fast section. #sorry:) For the passer be patient/calm and offer suggestions for spots as you see them. Even encouraging them to keep moving if they seem to be slowing down. Leave a slight gap.
The pass, the goal for both parties is to make the pass as quick as possible and lose as little time as possible. For this I recommend the passe to take the slow line, b line, outside line etc.(hear me out) If you the Passe takes the A line and calls to the passer to take the B line, it will slow you both down. Think of a track pursuit squad, the group doesn't pass the rider coming off the front, the rider pulls off high(maintaining their speed/momentum) then swings down and reattaches to the back of the train.
Every corner/line setup is a little different, but trust me if the passe offers up the fast line to the faster rider you BOTH will go faster with the least amount of energy. WIN WIN.
Alright thats it from the cheap seats, please as always I welcome any angry feedback just send it to my agent. Until then “take care of yourselves and each other” fav Jerry Springer quote.
I can't go a week without someone cornering me or sending me the latest “study” about the benefits of high intensity training. And more specifically high intensity every workout while cutting out endurance training. The tricky part is athletes don't compete in labs, they compete in the real world, in varying conditions, in multiple time zones, after sometimes days of travel.
Endurance training, lets say 4-6 hour rides(skis, snowshoes etc) helps build that athletic areobic foundation. It aids in recovery time, and dealing with ongoing stress. It helps you get to the start line of a race, ready to race. Not bagged and ready for bed after all the preparation that goes into racing.
Point 1) I'll use some of my younger athletes first visit to the Tremblant Canada Cup as an example. (i owe you guys 20 pushups) For many of them it was their first out of province, (heck out of the GTA) bike race. They faced a 7-8 hour drive, sleeping in a hotel, eating on the road, a crazy venue, a crazy course to pre-ride both climbing and technically. All firsts, all adding to their fatigue levels. I'll be honest by the time they arrived at the start line, they were tired. I knew they would be, but it was still an amazing experience for them and they learned a TON. A big limiting factor for that weekend as a whole was their aerobic base, not their intensity, or speed, or climbing, or tech riding.
Key words limiting factor for the weekend, not the race. If all the cadets and juniors woke up at their houses and raced on Zwift that day, I bet the times would be a lot closer. It takes a lot of energy just to prepare for a race, and if you don't have a good base in place you won't be recovered enough to hit your peak in the race.
Point 2) Athletes and coaches aren't stupid(welll.....), coaches have tried this tactic before cut waaay back on volume and increase intensity. It rarely works in the long term, dealing with 50 hour travel days through volcanic ash clouds, to China, to South Africa, NZ , OZ, it takes its toll. Its like its own stage race before the race. Sure you can be fit, fast, ready to rock for the duration of your race, (or lab test ;) but are you ready for a road trip, dealing with road food, sleeping in weird places, not sleeping on a plane and then rolling to the line rested and ready to perform. How does an athlete only doing HIT all year, every week prepare for that long term chaos?
I don't dispute the outcomes of these studies, I have very little doubt that a lot of intensity will lead to some big gains in fitness. But coaching and being an athlete is ALL about sacrifice, balance and compromise. We don't live in labs, not to say we can't learn from studies from researchers and universities but I encourage my athletes and my peers to take a holistic approach to training, racing and life as its all connected.