How to Turn Your Daily Commute Into a Cyclocross Training Session

As I mentioned previously, Cyclocross season is upon us. I’ve so far only done one race for fun, last year, but I did train for it by riding home via different routes and watching some youtube clips. When riding home from work, I rode on the grass beside the trail instead and used my heart rate monitor to see how fast of a pace I could keep up for a half-hour. I also used my mountain bike instead of my commuter street bike, since I would be racing with the MTB.

This year, I’m going to use my commuter bike with Kenda Kwicker ‘cross tires, which I’ve already installed. I’ve commuted for a week with them already with some small tweaks to my route to ready myself for the rigors of cyclocross:

  1. When given the choice between pavement and grass or dirt, take the grass or dirt:
    Since I have no shower at work and don’t want to be too sweaty, I take the pavement on the way there, but on the way home, I veer off the paved path and take on the dirt! It really gets me excited and I can feel the characteristics of the tires and bike when it goes off-road.
  2. Don’t go around the hill, go up it (or down it). The pictures don’t do it justice, but the dirt side of this hill is pretty steep, which is why there’s a paved switch-back for most cyclists. I’ve gone both up and down this one, but going up it is on my way to work with full lunch and change of clothes in the panniers, so I don’t do it often. Going down’s pretty fun though!

    Don’t take the paved switch-back

    Take the dirt embankment!

    The embankment looking from the bottom. It’s pretty steep!

    This dirt hill goes the other way but connects the paved path.

    The dirt hill looking from the bottom.

  3. Take the wood-chip trail. I ride through the park on the way home and there are many wood-chip trails in there. These are some of the toughest terrain I can find on the way home and my path through the park is complete with a ride through a sandy playground (if no kids nearby), wood-chip trails, and a steep grassy hill with rough grassy paths. If you haven’t ridden wood-chip trails, your legs are probably thanking you!

    Hang a left at the park instead of riding around it on the pavement.

    The park has lots of good features, like this quick 3-4ft dip.

    If you can find wood chip trails, they’ll be the hardest thing to ride other than sand.

  4. Take the alley instead of the street. The back alleys near my house are gravel so I’ve been taking them on the way home. One of them leads to a soccer field so I also cut straight across it.
  5. Find a baseball diamond. After the soccer field near home, there’s a baseball diamond. I do a few loops around the gravel infield to get a feel for when my tires want to kick out; and the Kenda Kwickers don’t!
  6. Find some loose gravel for a challenge. This gravel service road connects the paved path to the roadway a few hundred yards away. It’s brand new gravel: very loose and very chunky!

    Loose gravel anyone? This is right off the bike path.

  7. Find any other hills or grass along your route and just ride them. I ride the berm beside the bike path, which gives me a hill on each end and a long stretch of packed grass.

    I ride the top of the berm parallel to the paved path, then drop back down to the path.

    Hmm, which way to go?

    I think you get the idea!

  8. Practice dismounting, running, and remounting using whatever is available. The bike path goes under these tracks, but I don’t. They’re perfect for practice and the long grassy stretch beyond connects back to the bike path. I now dismount and run across all crosswalks, which is actually the legal way to cross so it’s a bonus. I can practice my remounts a few times during my commute this way.

    Need a place to test out your dismount/remount?

Aside from commuting, there will be some ‘cross clinics held in the weeks before my races, so I should be able to attend a few. For the most part though, I don’t have time for dedicated training, so I make the most out of my commutes.


About Kurt (Lightning) Bredeson

I am a married man, a follower of Jesus, a Mechanical Engineer, and a lover of cars, cycling and music. Things haven't always been easy; things haven't always been hard. I'm just trying my best in this life to enjoy what's been given to me by God and make the most of it.
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6 Responses to How to Turn Your Daily Commute Into a Cyclocross Training Session

  1. yo' mama says:

    it’s in the genes, sorry!

  2. I have to say that looks like a lot of fun. Now I have a want for an off road bike so I can have the fun I can sense just by looking at the dirt tracks. 🙂 Weeeee!

    • kurtbredeson says:

      You don’t need an off road bike: I’ve ridden all this terrain with my road tires over the past two years. Even hybrid tires would work well for dirt and packed gravel trails.

  3. yo' mama says:

    very cool! looks like so fun, except for #6; that loose gravel looks like a down-right disaster waiting to happen!
    your whole post makes me wish i could still ride a bike! but i have a possible solution…can you rig up a side car for your old ma for when i come out there (with padded seats, of course)?
    and had you thought of a B4 & after pic or measurement of your thigh muscles? haha!
    i love your energeticism!


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