Thursday, 2 September 2010
Cross technique - getting on
Over the recent Bank Holiday I ran a cross skills session in Burnley, attended by Belgians and friends of Belgians, and it was a timely reminder of the need to get specific with your specificities as the new season looms large in the calendar.
Mark T, Adam L, Eleanor, Richard K, myself and a good few others including a clutch of kids either re-acquainted ourselves or discovered from scratch why cross is so accessible to get into and yet so engrossing to master.
A number of others have also recently contacted me for help with the jumpy on bit of cross so here, by way of public service announcement, are some crossjunkie nuggets of gold..........
Difficulties mounting are totally common to us all, at least to start with. I assume dear reader that you are right handed and are getting on from the left. Otherwise reverse these tips. Alternatively, get really flash and become ambi-jumpstrous! Find a smooth patch of grass/football playing field and prepare to look like a loon while you practice the following....
There are 2 tips to bear in mind at all times:
Visualise and practice landing on the inside of your thigh - your right thigh if you are getting on from the left side of the bike. As you get better, you will get more accurate and closer to any vulnerable areas(!) but you still land just on that part where your groin is. You actually don't need to jump at all if you get used to sliding onto the saddle gently.
Always think about your right foot coming smoothly down and onto the right pedal. Follow the arc your foot makes as you swing your leg over and push down through the air till you make contact with the pedal. It does help if you are getting off the right way, right foot behind your left and then a twist of the ankle to unclip. This keeps the pedals roughly where you want them to be - right pedal forward.
Break it down as follows, starting these exercises at walking pace and building up speed from there:
1. Walk along side the bike and practice rotating your hips and swinging the right leg over and onto the saddle, landing on the right inner thigh and sliding slightly onto the saddle to get central. Just do it walking speed for now, but think about that right foot coming over the back of the bike and onto the pedal. Don't jump yet, that comes later. Get smooth at this before going onto step 2. Do it with hands in middle of bars and hands on hoods. Practice over and over. It's like a hurdler movement in many ways - all hips, not height.
2. Jog along side the bike. Do the same but with a very small hop off the left foot. No height, more a gentle udge onto the saddle. Think right foot down onto the right pedal. Try different hand positions too.You should be able to hop gently over and onto the saddle without a big leap. Try to dial out the stuttering of the left foot we all go through, by learning in stage 1 exactly how little you have to jump.
3. When you are smoother and more confident, build up the speed. Even flat out, the top guys hardly jump, just nudge up and over.
Though I can do it in my sleep nowadays, I still do technical drills once a week or more to make sure that they are absolutely rock solid in my mind and muscles for when I am gasping for breath and under pressure in a race. Whatever level you are racing at, it is worth it for the satisfaction alone, of a perfectly executed mount.
See you in the mud somewhere.