The hardest parts of cyclocross are cornering technique and the running in my opinion. My favorite place to practice cyclocross skills and to train for cross in Lakewood are Bear Creek Lake Park and the Bear Creek Green Belt. Both areas have a lot to offer, such as different riding surfaces, sand pits, and steep hills to practice run ups.
I like to practice cornering the most in the Bear Creek Green Belt. The trails wind along the river banks and get really tight which is perfect cornering practice. Practicing corners helps keep me fluid on the cross course and fluid is fast. I typically warm up in the Green Belt as the trails are pretty tight and don’t make the best places for intervals. I like to do a few loops around the trails as a good warm up and progressively speed up and take the corners at higher speeds. The trails also have mixed surfaces to practice on like loose gravel, nice hard pack and grass, most of which are always seen on any cross course.
After a good warm up in the Green Belt I ride up the bike path into Bear Creek Lake Park where I can do intervals or practice refining other skills and do some running. Lots of the trails in Bear Creek Park are pretty sandy, I like to spend time on skills days to ride in the sand and corner in the sand. Since there are so many trails along the rivers in the park sometimes I set up a course that includes every surface I can find to practice all aspects of cross. I try to dismount and run any steep hill that there is in the courses I set up just to practice getting on and off the bike. I get a lot of practice on very loose and rough riding surface in Bear Creek Park which helps out a lot in races such as Valmont. I usually like to do my intervals on the dam trail in Bear Creek Park as it is the longest climb in the park and makes a good place for continuous efforts up to 3 or 4 minutes. On a hard interval day I usually head up to Green Mountain Open Space on the mountain bike for hard climbing efforts up to 15 minutes long.
Just outside the park is the Morrison Incline which I like to run once or twice a week to train for really hard run ups like the 5280 stairs at Valmont. Going up and down the stairs three times in a run hurts a lot and helps me build up endurance to beat running fatigue late in races.
I’m looking forward to the upcoming races where I’ll start racing in the SM Open category to build on my race experience and make things harder. I hope to see you all out at the races, happy trails.