With 6 weeks remaining until the start of cyclocross season, now is a great time to start practicing your starts.
The start is critically important in cyclocross (that's why they do call-ups!) and your positioning can definitely impact your results at the end of the race. Here's how to nail them:
Be physically fit and ready
The first two or three minutes of a cyclocross race are intense as riders go from 0-100 in a blink. Make sure your body is ready by incorporating intervals that last about the same period of time. You can relax a little after you have established position and settle into your race pace.
Choose the right lane
During your course preview, figure out where the first turn or obstacle is. Do you want to be on the left, or right to take advantage? When your name and number is called during call-ups, take your prime spot. If there are no call-ups, get to the starting grid early to reserve your space.
Put your bike in the right gear
Is there anyone out there who hasn't made this mistake? The gun goes off, you stomp on the pedals, only to find you left your bike in way too high or low of a gear. Stop this from happening by making sure to set the right gear based on course conditions (asphalt, grass, hill, flat) and make it part of your "ritual" so you never forget.
Know how much time remains until start
Don't burn extra energy tensing up if the race isn't about to start. If your race starts on a whistle, one of my favorite tricks is to WATCH the official, don't just listen - when they raise the whistle to their lips, you'll know the start is imminent.
Drill on the technique
Put your "power" foot in the 1 o'clock position - for most riders, this will be their right foot. Left foot on tiptoe. Hands on brake hoods. Coil up like a cat and spring forward when you hear the whistle, mashing down with your right foot and then click in with your left ASAP. You should be standing to accelerate as you shift up through the gears to come up to speed. Drill this skill until it becomes instinctive.