Tips from Tim Johnson’s Austin Cyclocross Clinic

It’s no secret that cyclocross is closer to MTB racing than it is road racing. The degree of separation between the two sports is often blurred, especially when compared to XC racing. In short: you’ve got to have bike control to excel at the sport. Sure fitness is one thing, but learning how to ride is key and tied directly to that is your position on a bike.

Tim Johnson is an advocate of the MTB position on a cross bike and on Saturday, he ran a clinic with Bicycle Sport Shop in preparation for the 2015 Cyclocross Nationals here in Austin.

There were three groups that day: A, B and C – depending on rider skill level. From there, Tim, with the help of two others, Johnny and Pete, broke down the basics of cyclocross racing. I hung around for the most important part: riding position… Read on in the gallery for a break-down of what Tim taught the clinic about how to race their cross bikes and check out some bullet points below.

Just the tips:

-Your weight should be off the saddle at all times, unless you’re recovering.
-When you’re not pedaling, you should be coasting with your dominant foot forward, ass off the saddle, elbows bent, sitting forward with your head up.
-Don’t wear cycling caps while racing – if you’re in the attack position, they just block your view. When your helmet is on properly, it blocks enough sun.
-You should learn to “float” off your bike, allowing your legs and arms to compress and absorb any uneven terrain.
-Your weight should be on your feet, not on your ass.
-When going down hill, or around turns, your position should be neutral. Not too far forward and definitely not too far back.
-Learn to “pump” your bike out of hills and turns. This is known as “free speed”.
-Stand up out of turns and sprint to make up for loss of speed.
-Take the outside to outside line in a turn, not the inside to inside. This way you don’t have to slow down as much.
-Look at MTB racers for riding position precedents, not road cyclists who are concerned with being “aero”.
-Most importantly, ride trails / singletrack on your cross bike. Learn how to lean in and out of turns. Ride aggressively and fast. Learn your bike’s limitations… You should feel like you’re always at the tipping point around corners. Sometimes that means RUBBER SIDE UP!

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  • Andrew Stackhouse

    Pretty awesome to see so many of my old friends from the Dirt Derby

  • Craig

    so much Boulder, CO in these photos! Tim, Pete, Mosaic, BSC. Looks like a good time.

  • Carl Anderson

    “-Most importantly, ride trails / singletrack on your cross bike. Learn how to lean in and out of turns. Ride aggressively and fast. Learn your bike’s limitations… You should feel like you’re always at the tipping point around corners. Sometimes that means RUBBER SIDE UP!”
    TOTALLY! – Riding singlerack on my cx bike brought back the fun and enjoyment of trail riding after several years of inactivity on the dirt from being burnt out on my MTB. Like singlespeeding, theres something rad about using the “wrong” tool for the job… F-it. Also, the looks on the faces of dudes on their FS trailbikes as I rip by…

  • carl bradtmiller

    whats the word on course design for nats? it cant be a coincidence that the clinic was at zilker…

  • TJ

    Thanks for coming by dude…Austin blew my mind a bit, can’t wait to come back!