The Cyclocross Episode with Coach Holicky, Katie Compton, Ellen Noble, and Maxx Chance

Fast Talk is taking on cyclocross, from training to racing, honing technical skills to riding on nearly flat tires.

Fast Talk Cyclocross

Is there anything more fun than ripping around in the mud on an autumn day with all your friends? Jumping off your bike, jumping on your bike, diving into corners, bunny-hopping barriers, drifting through corners, powering through sand. The cyclists who have the most fun? Cyclocross racers. The cycling discipline with the most hashtags? Cyclocross. It’s been a long time coming, but Fast Talk is finally taking on cyclocross, from training to racing, honing technical skills to riding on nearly flat tires. Warning: there are few, if any, nerd bombs in this episode. Today we’ll dive into many facets of ‘cross, including:

  • First, why cyclocross is so unique to the cycling world, and why comparing it to crits or time trials doesn’t do it justice.
  • Second, what assets you need to be a good ‘cross rider. Some of it is purely physiological like a good two to five-minute power, but there’s also more intangible things like resilience.
  • Few people race just ‘cross, so we’ll talk about how to balance multiple race seasons, and how to deal with what can end up being a long season as a result.
  • Fourth, we’ll explore the season a little deeper and talk about how both our experts like to periodize their training, and also how they address the short race season in cyclocross
  • We’ll explain the all-too-critical start position, and why that raises an important question when planning your season. Should you come into the ‘cross season hot?
  • We’ll spend some time talking about the technical side of cyclocross. A good engine is important, but if you’re losing 10 seconds in the corners every lap, even the biggest engine isn’t enough.
  • Next, we’ll discuss the training side of cyclocross and why the unique nature of the sport also requires a unique approach to training.
  • Finally, we’ll talk about ‘cross races themselves—race strategy, the importance of course inspection, and selecting your gear.

Our primary guests today are Grant Holicky, one of the top cyclocross coaches in the country, of Forever Endurance coaching, and one of his athletes Maxx Chance, a former collegiate cyclocross national champion. Along with Grant and Maxx, we spoke with Ellen Noble, a Red Bull sponsored athlete with Trek Factory Racing, and a multiple-time medalist at elite ‘cross nationals. Finally, I sat down with a true cyclocross legend, Katie Compton, the winner of 15 consecutive national titles, and a four-time silver medalist at ‘cross worlds.

Let’s make you Fast!

Primary Guests Grant Holicky and Maxx Chance Secondary Guests Katie Compton: 15-time national cyclocross champion Ellen Noble: A Red Bull sponsored athlete with Trek Factory Racing, and a multiple-time medalist at elite ‘cross nationals

Episode Transcript



Welcome to fast all the Vela news podcast and everything you need to know to ride like a pro.


Chris Case  00:13

Hello, and welcome to fast dock. I’m your host Chris case managing editor of velonews and a cyclocross de voti. Today, as always, I’m joined by Trevor Connor, who once partook in across race once Is there anything more fun than ripping around in the mud on an autumn day with all your friends, jumping off your bike jumping on your bike, diving into corners, bunny hopping barriers drifting through corners, powering through sand? The cyclists who have the most fun cyclocross racers, the cycling disciplined with the most hashtags, cyclocross? It’s been a long time coming, but Fast Talk is finally taking on cyclocross from training to racing, honing technical skills to riding on nearly flat tires. Warning, there are a few if any nerd bombs in this episode. Today, we’ll dive into many facets of cross including first why cyclocross is so unique to the cycling world and why comparing it to crits or time trials doesn’t do it justice at all. Second, what assets you need to be a good cross rider. Some of it is purely physiological, like a good two to five minute power. But there’s also more intangible things like resilience. Few people race just for us. So we’ll talk about how to balance multiple race seasons, and how to deal with what can end up being a long season as a result. forth. We’ll explore the season a little deeper and talk about how both are experts like to periodize their training, and also how they address the short race season in across. Next we’ll explain the all too critical star position and why that raises an important question when planning your season. Should you come into the cross season hot? We’ll spend some time talking about the technical side of cyclocross a good engine is important. But if you’re losing 10 seconds in the corners, every lap, even the biggest engine isn’t enough. Next, we’ll discuss the training side of cyclocross and why the unique nature of the sport also requires a unique approach to training. And finally, we’ll talk about cross races themselves race strategy, the importance of course inspection in prewriting, and selecting your gear. Our primary guests today are Grant halki of forever endurance coaching, one of the top cyclocross coaches in the country, and one of his athletes max chance a former collegiate cyclocross national champion, you can tell that these two have worked closely together for years because they can’t stop picking on one another. Along with grant Max, we spoke with Ellen noble, a Red Bull sponsored athlete with track factory racing and multiple time medalist at elite cross nationals. And finally, I sat down with a true cyclocross legend Katie Compton, my friend, the winner of 15 consecutive national titles and a four times silver medalist at cross worlds. All that and I haven’t even mentioned cowbells yet. Let’s make you fast.


Chris Case  03:09

This episode of fast Talk is brought to you by whoop, I wore whoop for quite a while and one of the one of the most fascinating things to me was how it helped me understand sleep, and sleep behavior and the things you do before you sleep that affects your sleep. That process of analyzing the bedtime routine and making sure that the quality of sleep was there, the consistency of sleep was there is really something enlightening to me. And that was one of the more interesting things to me, besides all the other data it provides. Was this, this look at sleep that I’d never had before. Honestly, what actually amazes me about this is coaching Chris, actually getting him to use a power meter or put a heart rate strap or collect any data, when he rides was extraordinarily difficult. And when we handed in this advisor like this will track you 24 seven or just as look of no


Trevor Connor  04:00

on his face, but you found some value. Yeah,


Chris Case  04:01

absolutely no, it, it really gets you thinking about that balance between fatigue, recovery, and then it is sitting there on your wrist while you sleep. And you wake up in the morning and you say, the stages of sleep that you’re in and how much time you’ve spent in them the quality of the sleep that you get. And obviously all of that relates back to the balance between strain and recovery, which leads to better performances. Whoop is the performance tool that is changing the way people optimize their training and recovery. Whoo provides a wrist worn heartrate monitor that features detailed app based analytics and insights on recovery strain and sleep loop tracks sleep quality and heart rate variability 100 times per second 24 hours per day to help you know when your body is recovered or when it needs rest. You can also use the strap to track workouts and get strain scores that let you know how strenuous The training was on your body. Helps you optimize your sleep based on how fatiguing your day was and tracks sleep performance with insight into your sleep quality. stages of sleep and consistency. To make things better. We’ve just released the new whoop strap 3.0, which includes a suite of new hardware and app features. bootstrap 3.0 now has five day battery life and improve strap and live heart rate monitoring a handful of new inap features including the new strain coach, improve the way you track and plan your training and recovery. Oop is provided an offer for Fast Talk listeners to get 15% off their purchase with the code. Fast talk. That’s FA S T. Ta lk. Just go to that’s w h o And use code Fast Talk at checkout to save 15% off and optimize the way you train.


Chris Case  05:50

Thank you guys both for being here today.



Absolutely. Our pleasure.



Yeah, very excited.


Chris Case  05:55

And it’s gonna be fun because you guys have such a great relationship.



Just jinxed it.



Nope. Nope. It


Chris Case  06:04

couldn’t possibly be boring. But yeah, we’re talking about cyclocross today which is grant love cyclocross, Max love cyclocross. I love cyclocross. Trevor’s done a cyclocross race


Trevor Connor  06:18

here and be quiet, I



got to start somewhere with Trevor,


Trevor Connor  06:21

I’ve actually got this new little timer that we’re using for the podcast and it’s just gonna be my job. I’m just gonna flip it, flip it. It doesn’t mean anything. The Sands run down, we’re


Grant Hollicky  06:30

gonna keep talking anytime Mac starts talking. Yeah.


Chris Case  06:36

So I wonder if you could start grant by, give us an overview in your mind from a coach’s perspective, you’ve been coaching, a lot of different types of endurance athletes, generally over the years, but you’ve also specifically been coaching young cyclocross athletes for many years, give us an overview of the physiological demands that are specific to cyclocross to start us with,


Grant Hollicky  06:59

I think, I think one of the things that’s really unique about cross is how the effort varies and how the effort goes, you start the, you start the race with a fall off sprint, and that, that changes everything, right? There’s, there’s not that many disciplines where, especially in cycling, where that’s the way we’re gonna go, we’re gonna go out as fast as we can possibly go out. And then we have to find a way to settle in recover a little bit from that, then we’re going to go again, and we’re going to go again, and we’re going to go again, and it becomes less of this idea of, how do I sustain myself? Or how do I make it to the finish? Or how do I get there with a sprint at the end? It’s like, how do I just keep doing this over and over and over again, I’m just gonna keep getting hit in the face. And that combined with the technical aspect of it, that combined with a weather aspect of cross at, it really makes it truly truly unique in the world of cycling, for sure. But I think in a lot of ways, unique in most sports, you know, my background swimming, and then triathlon, and then mostly cycling now, and it’s just really nothing truly like it.


Chris Case  08:06

It’s got some components, there’s definitely some overlap with some other disciplines, right?


Grant Hollicky  08:10

Well, absolutely. And I mean, you can’t, you can’t have repeatable anaerobic capacity without aerobic power, right? You know, and, and a high Robic capacity, you can’t have the ability to recover from high end efforts without a solid lactic threshold. You know, all these other things are major components of what we do in cross, but how we’re going to race that race. In we’ll probably touch on that later. It’s akin to crits. But even even in terms of that crits, the demand is, is often by the other riders in the in the field, that’s what’s changing your effort, that’s what’s making you pop or go or all those things cross, it’s, it’s the terrain, you don’t have a choice, you’ve got to get up that hill, you don’t have a choice, you’ve got to get off your bike. And then that’s a further component, that component of what you’re going to do when you get off your bike just really makes it unique in the world cycling.


Trevor Connor  09:04

So here’s the question I have is can you cater to your own strength? So if you’re more of a crit style rider, can you be that guy that just gets really aggressive up the hills really aggressive coming out of the corners? Or if you’re a time trial style rider? Can you just say, I’m just gonna sit there at FTP? I’m going to go my own pace and ignore everybody else who said there is no draft? Right? Right. Right. Can you take that? Or is it really if you want to win the race? There’s one approach


Grant Hollicky  09:31

Well, I don’t think there’s ever one approach. I mean, we’re gonna look at every course when we travel with the with the guys are out on the road. And we look at every course and say, What are the demands of this course there certainly are courses, especially in the states that you can take that steady time trial, this approach to and we’ve watched it work for some of the athletes that are very good American athletes, but you know, we’ve watched it work on the grand scale with somebody like Sunday’s I mean, this was somebody who didn’t have this rocking Start all the time and worked his way back into races. Katie Compton another great example, this is somebody who took a time and approach the race. So that time trialing approach can work. But then there’s other times where, you know, we’re gonna have a bottleneck, 200 meters into this race. And if you’re not in the top 10, you’re not going to see the top 10 again, yep. And, and so looking at each individual course, and understanding how that plays to your strengths, or how that plays to your weaknesses. And then what you’re going to do off of that, I think there are some phenomenal examples at World Cup level of athletes who very, very typically took their time and embrace the whole hour, change that tactic completely, because of that bottleneck we saw was going to come early, and they won the whole shot. How did they pull that off? So so every one of those courses is going to have a different demand, how you’re doing on that given day might have a different demand, where you are in your season, all those things are really going to play into that. But everybody in everybody’s style can have a degree of success. So I think you’re definitely going to end up working your strengths. But be aware of your weaknesses. So you can make some choices that are going to help you through those things.


Chris Case  11:09

Yeah, I turn it over to you. maxon. You know, you know yourself and you have your coach coming to you. coming with you to races, how do you work together to figure out how do you tweak the way you ride? To most benefit you on that given race weekend?



Yeah, so we were lucky because we have a good group of people in Boulder that we ride with anywhere from 510 people on a given Tuesday. And before the races before the big races. I mean, we’ve we’ve done we traveled a circuit before. So we know. Okay, we’re going to Louisville for for nationals, we know it’s going to be a lot uphill, we know it’s probably gonna be some running a lot of drags. So we go to different parks around Boulder, and Grant has workouts that replicate the features we know we’re going to see like a boulder cups a great example, at Mountain Bike Park, you ride there all the time, we know that 50 to 80 stairs are going to be in the race. Sure. So you know, you’re going to be going up the hill, you’re gonna bomb down it, and you got to run up the giant staircase. And so finding features like that, that you can easily replicate in your own training, preparing for races that are important, is it I think it’s a feature that is not necessarily new to cyclocross, but is something that everyone can do and like everyone can practice and we do that a lot in Boulder.


Chris Case  12:24

How many times do you get to do that before a given race? We can because one time isn’t going to make that big a difference. Right? How many weeks back? Are you looking to prepare for those races?






Yeah, you


Grant Hollicky  12:35

know, it’s still July, and we’ve started those Tuesday sessions. So when we look at a race like Pan Am’s, which for somebody like Eric berners, Lee, you 23 or denz, LCU, 23, they have a really good shot at winning that race or being on podium at that race. And insulting. I’m getting there. And then for our elite riders, like max hoping to crack the top 40 or something like,


Trevor Connor  13:01

I like this, I was about to say we’ve all gotten really serious.


Grant Hollicky  13:05

So now but looking at looking at those very important races, like see one in Cincinnati, or we know the exact demands that we’re gonna see at that Pan Am course and frankly, Chris McGovern, who I work with now, forever endurance, he just did a world walkthrough with the Tacoma cores for national. So we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to look for there. So we’re really going to model that stuff into what we’re doing in our training, pick the parks, pick the areas that we’re going to go to, and we’re preparing for that stuff now. And I’ll and we’ll talk about it, you know, this is going to be similar to the steps at Pan Am’s, this is going to be similar to what you’re going to see at Cincinnati at the new Kings Cross course, things like that. And there’s



also things that are consistent across courses that aren’t the same. But like we’ll go to practice like doing really steep drops, that are really technical and a little bit scary and stuff because a lot of times you’ll go to courses and you’re not always going to find the same exact drop out every race. But everything every course is going to have something like that, especially at the World Cup level. Like when you’re going over and racing in Europe, there’s a lot of really steep drops, loose, sharp terms at the bottom. So just practicing those skills that are not necessarily make or break features of the course but could really end poorly if you’re not ready for them. Mm hmm. Things like that, or barriers and staircases. Like there’s going to be barriers, there’s going to be dismounts at almost every race. So practicing those features you don’t it’s not that we’re always practicing the same for Tacoma, right? But just those Yep, those courses go hand in hand.


Trevor Connor  14:33

So taking a step back in just like a minute or two. What are the assets? Hey, I knew there was a reason to buy that. Yeah. What are the assets both physiologically and otherwise that you need to be a good cross rider.


Grant Hollicky  14:49

So most cross riders are going to be pretty sharp riders are going to be categorized I wouldn’t say as sprinters but attackers for sure. Very good in the vo to max ranges. And then from a mental point of view, resilience honestly, is one of the biggest pieces. You’re you’re gonna fall in across race. If you went to Nationals last year, you’re going to fall multiple times and across race, how do you keep your head straight in that mindset? How do you keep the head straight in that endeavor? And I think Lastly, they tend to be very aggressive riders. That’s you’re gonna make less mistakes, being aggressive in a race and and the race is short, and you get lulled into this sense of God, I was dying at the end, I needed to be careful. But it’s an hour long. You can afford to be pretty aggressive in that setting.


Chris Case  15:39

Max, is that? Did he just describe you? Oh,



not at all?



Well, that’s why you’re trying to crack the top 40.



Exactly. If only Yeah, I think what Greg was saying is right, like being having the ability to go do high end power over and over and over and over again, out of corners. And the mental resilience and the skill aspect is definitely important. But like, you also look at dudes who can just go they’re just diesel’s Mm hmm. And they like Jamie Driscoll perfect example. Yeah. Always the dangler


Chris Case  16:10

he Oh, he’s always there, right? And never say never easing up, never used. So even if



that’s not necessarily you, finding how to make your skill sets work is really beneficial.


Grant Hollicky  16:23

And maybe one of the biggest pieces to that is knowing what your skill sets are. Right. Jamie always knew what he was. So he would do everything that he could to stay on the back of that pack. And then as people started to fade, just pick them off, pick them off and pick them off. And lo and behold, on a podium again, you know, every second again or is third again and and it was amazing in that capacity to do that. But he understood him said he understands himself as a rider. And and I think that’s one of the biggest things that’s important across is knowing who you are. Yep.



Yeah. And you look at like the wild first matching battles that we’ve seen so many times, like they’re complete, like, match, you can hit it so many times. But Wow, it is more of that diesel strength.


Chris Case  17:00

And so using he’s talking about internationals, yeah. Russ riders, Trevor?



Yep. You may have noticed they’ve done okay. On the road bikes. Occasionally. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  17:11

You want to spring classic or two?



Yeah, but like when they ride together, and Venables way better technically.


Chris Case  17:18

So while we’ll take the corners first so that he can’t get dropped. Wow, it’s probably better than 99.99. The world better pool is in a category almost to himself. And



so knowing knowing what you’re good at and what your weaknesses are, and because every point on the course you’re gonna have a weakness, but you’re gonna have strengths. So if you’re in a group, and they’re, and you’re struggling through the corners, go to the corners first. Because they can’t get around. You know, they got to go your speed. Yep. So if you’re not cornering super, well just get to the front of group. Everyone’s got to go your speed. All of a sudden, you’re still there? Yeah,


Grant Hollicky  17:50

yeah. It’s a massively odd thing about crosses. And a lot of cases, if you’re weaker in something you want to do a sprint get to the front of the race from the front, right? Yep. So it’s, yeah, understanding yourself as a rider is key.


Trevor Connor  18:07

So in my one cyclocross race, I was dead last off the line. Perfect. Well, I spent the rest of the race passing people. I felt really good about Oh, yeah,


Grant Hollicky  18:18

yeah, absolutely. Man, starting first and finishing.


Trevor Connor  18:22



Grant Hollicky  18:24

That’s why I got out of triumph on I’d be really good in this one in the bike and then just get passed by everybody in their brother on the run.


Chris Case  18:30

So since you mentioned that we’re sitting here in July talking about this, you’re racing on the road at a high level, reasonably high level? Yes.



Like not according to grant, but you


Grant Hollicky  18:42

know, grant support your road. So far, as you know, exactly. So


Chris Case  18:46

you’re Howdy, you know, brings up the obvious question, how are how do you balance the two racing on the road currently, and preparing for a long cross season, several months before the cross season even starts,



I might not be the best to ask about because I’m really good at being really focused on like, I don’t, I didn’t ride my cross bike for like, five months. And I got on the cross because this is really fun. This is super cool. You can ride all the gravel and had this brace. This is great. But then there’s guys like Steven Hyde and Tobin online who are riding the cross bike all the time. Yeah, during the summer, so I’ve started to get back on the cross bike once a week and mostly just messing around and doing high intensity Sprint’s that will translate over to the road stuff. Because that top end you still need Yeah, on the road. And you can get it during the cross bike but then also just start working in those balancing skills and the maneuvering the bought the bike over different terrain and stuff, which I also think definitely helps with road racing too. Like Yeah, if you’re racing crits and stuff, and even road races like there’s there’s potholes, there’s corners, everything and I think it’s an underrated skill to be able to handle your bike while even on the road even in long road races. Yeah. Cuz one of my old teammates would always make fun of me. Because every time we rode together, he’d like you bunny hop something every run. You don’t need to do that. But there’s so many times and random races that it has in the field. And there’s absolutely there’s a bottle, there’s something


Grant Hollicky  20:14

there’s a curve there’s around about Yeah, yeah. And, you know, expanding on what max just said, that’s really the goal is is for somebody like Max, somebody like Eric who are doing road high level and cross those Tuesday sessions, it might be a little bit less, hopefully about trying that really sweet drop. Yeah, and a little bit more about high end sprinting and a little bit more about sustained one minute 30 seconds, stuff like that, that really is going to directly translate to what it is that they’re doing right now. And, and how we build that workout into the weekly structure. You know, we tend to do high intensity toward lower intensity as we move through the days fits really well on Tuesday. And then we’ll go kind of longer, more sustained efforts come Wednesday, and then into a nice long base day on Thursday. But Max is right, the skill set translates very, very well. And the power pieces can translate very well if you build the rest of the schedule around.



And it’s also just very fun to mess around on cross bikes or or mountain bikes. Even when you’re spending so much time on the road bike,



it helps mentally Yeah, it



helps mentally. I all all do. Most of my recovery rides on like cross bike currently on the cross bike and go to mountain bike park or go mess around on dirt pads and do Skids and jumps and stuff like that. And so I bought I blew through one tire in a week because I was getting too much but



Wow, that’s great. It’s like yeah, at least



you’re having fun.


Chris Case  21:39

Trevor spoke with Ellen noble of the trek factory racing team who at the age of 23 has already raised professionally in cyclocross road and mountain biking, Trevor asked her about how she manages to balance the multiple seasons.



So actually, last year in 2018, at the end of 2018, I pivoted to mountain bike racing, which kind of meant that road took a little bit of a backseat and then continue to race cyclocross. But structurally it’s pretty similar in terms of like kind of the entrance point and the exit point of your secondary season. So the biggest thing for me is just try not to race for too long in the kind of like, offseason if you will, of like the offseason away from racing cyclocross, predominantly. So for me last year, it involved like I am, I had to turn down a spot for the World Championships at Mountain Bike World Championships, which was like really disappointing, but I just really needed to be able to focus on that entrance point in September. So I usually start racing a little bit later. And then I ended up taking a break in August. So you stopped racing a little bit sooner as well, but still allows for a lot of like really quality events and working on some like really important skills that like well skills of speed, if you’re doing road and skills of like technical stuff, if you’re doing mountain that may not always be our go to racing cyclocross,


Trevor Connor  23:03

that are you taking a fairly long break at the end of the cross season? Or do you have to get right back into it considering how late the cross season goes?



Yeah, so I’m actually able to take a decent break after cyclocross season. And although it doesn’t really make for coming into the mountain bike season, maybe like the speed that I want, it’s definitely the priority for my coach and I, after the end of a cyclocross season, because we raised from September all the way through February, like pretty much full gas. So, really, in my eyes, like there’s nothing more important than, like a good hard reset for your mind, for your body, for your heart for for everything for the whole system, I think it’s really, really, really vital to have some downtime, but it’s not it’s ideal for longevity, but it’s definitely not ideal for like the for like the first races, you know, like sea otter, or the World Cups in May. It’s really, really challenging to fit in. So much training, like as much training as you need after that downtime in February. But I think it is, I think it is really important, but it just doesn’t allow for a lot of wiggle room. So like, unfortunately, this year, we had planned out a block like pretty specifically and I got sick for a week in April and it completely sidelines everything because, you know, like, if you have 12 weeks for a build, and you have to do all of your endurance and then intensity and you get sick for one of it. It’s like well, we had 12 weeks to do all of it. And now we only have 11 so it can be really stressful. But like I said, I always try to prioritize rest to avoid like, chronic fatigue or sickness. So it’s really important for me, okay, and


Trevor Connor  24:42

then what about with cross? Is it the same thing or do you feel like you can come into the cross season pretty hard after the mountain bike season?



Um, I feel like I I’m able to come into the cross season like ripping, but I don’t know if it’s ideal to be honest. It’s really hard having The first round of the World Cups in September being so valuable being American, but then also having to race the World Championships in February, like kind of full gas from there. It’s definitely a balancing act of like, you know, success of the early races versus success throughout the rest of the season. Like, you just really can’t go well, year round. And you can’t even really go well, from September to February. So it’s, it’s like really, really challenging. But it’s a fun game to try to play of like, How fast can I be in one this year, I don’t think I’ll be as fit in the early seasons as I have been in the past just because of a lot of like, but a lot of stuff going on. Like physically, that I have finally, I think, like overcome, but it’s been really, really challenging. So it means that my mountain bike season wasn’t as hot and heavy, if you will, as it has been in years past. So I think that while my early season results may not be what they’ve been previously I I’m actually really curious to see how it plays out to see if I have a little bit more left to give at the end of the season.


Trevor Connor  26:03

So jumping into the the racing side, yeah. What are the things about the racing and race strategy? What are the things to do and not do?



Hmm. Well, I



think that everyone sees cyclocross as these 45 minute all out events, and they absolutely are. But there’s still very much a pacing component to it that I don’t think people really consider. So some of my advice would really be to like, play your cards. And I’ve always visualized racing, like a matchbook. And you can absolutely Well, if you’re not careful, just like the whole match book on fire in the first lap, and then just go backwards.



Let’s get back to the show.


Trevor Connor  26:45

Okay, so moving on, let’s talk about the training side of this. So what does the overall season look like? What should you be doing by June? What should you be doing by August? season tends to start late August, early September.


Grant Hollicky  27:00

Yeah, around here. And in the States, we’re looking at a late August, early September start that runs through now middle of December. And we used to complain all the time about what a long season it was when nationals was the middle of January. Now it feels super short. To me, at least


Trevor Connor  27:16

for a lot of our masters athletes or listeners, it’s even shorter


Grant Hollicky  27:20

right state championships or something along those lines. But yeah, so the season three and a half months of Real Racing, it comes back to the question that you alluded to earlier. What are you focusing on? Are you primarily across rider? Or are you a road rider that’s going to transition I think no matter who you are spending time on the cyclocross bike, even if it’s like max set for an easy ride here and there, or for a long sustained base ride, especially where we live down gravel paths for three and a half hours get on dirt roads for three and a half hours. And the cross bikes not gonna be that much different than your gravel bike. If you have both or for most of us, like me, you’re gonna use your cross bike as your gravel bike, or even as a commuter.



Yeah, dirt routes to work.



Yeah, yeah.



I think I wrote over here on his cross bike today.


Grant Hollicky  28:08

Yeah, I think a lot of that stuff is a piece of that is I love how even when Mac says something nice about me or normal, it still sounds like an insect.



There’s brands right for the week.



It’s not wrong. Yeah, you’ll



be like Mike, you’re adding things like a ride to the pool and back.


Grant Hollicky  28:27

That’s a good point. I mean, for masters racers, for sure. We are very limited in the time that we have available I do two rides a week better commutes, but I’ll take a dirt path that’s slightly longer and play around with what I’m going to hop. I’m going to go over curbs or I’m going to do this I’m going to do that. So that’s something we can do all year. I think it follows a bit of a traditional training plan. I’m a little untraditional and how I train people I like to start the season with high intensity efforts. I think that I think it’s really interesting especially for something like cross that everybody talks about build the base, build the base, build the base, then start to bring two vo two Max and sprint efforts but the problem with that is you’re tired once you’ve built the base and you’re going to struggle to get the true true high end sprint efforts are those beauty max efforts. So I like to sprinkle them out all throughout the year. This is really one of the cornerstones of racing cross so we’ll start with at least cadence Sprint’s are to tie in Sprint’s really early in the year whenever people are back on their bike after cross season then there’s you know we are going to go through a phase that’s building predominantly threshold power and making sure the engines really working well and once that’s established as as we know then we really are going to see big gains in vo two max work so then we’ll transition to more of that anaerobic power and vo two max work come june july


Trevor Connor  29:48

yeah there’s gonna Yeah,


Grant Hollicky  29:48

June or July for the the higher end efforts and then using August to kind of reevaluate Where are we what’s going well, what do we need to work on? That may be all skills There may be high end power, we may see that we’ve lost a little bit of threshold combat, you know, so maybe we’re gonna come back to that. So it’s it’s a fairly traditional build with more of an emphasis on that view to max pot.


Trevor Connor  30:12

So one of the biggest challenges you pointed out is the cross season is really short. So if you come into the season, missing an asset or not where you want to be, what do you do about that? Is the season a write off? Or can you



know, I


Grant Hollicky  30:25

think you can, I think you can adjust. I think one of the biggest things that’s hard for people when they raise cross and we go through this challenge with the pro riders is understanding that there’s still priority races, non priority races, as you go through the season. You mean, you may be staring at 10 weekends, and so that there’s 16 races with double weekends and things like that, I got to be great at all of them. Because there’s this points on the line these points on the line. Now will they use at points go and you’re trying to make sure that you’re getting a good start at Nationals or state or something like that. You have to have that willingness to look at a race and say, okay, there’s only one this weekend, it’s on a Sunday, I can really get after it Tuesday, Wednesday, and then ease off toward the end of the week and recover from that. So really looking at the season as a whole. And picking those weeks where maybe the weekends not as important. You know, we’ve certainly used Thanksgiving weekend a lot that we know we’re not going to race Thanksgiving weekend. We know like a midseason break. Yeah. to retune some things. Yeah. So we can go back to the drawing board or go back to what we’re trying to look at. We’ve also built in for a lot of people breaks mid season. Yeah, it’s a short season, but it’s super, super intense. And it’s really hard to discount, what a huge difference of two to three days stand down can make just get off your bike for two to three days. We’ve even done it with with our pro Riders of just take a week off, you’re still gonna race on the weekend, why





Grant Hollicky  31:53

you know, go have some fun and race but you’re going to be rested. Be a little rusty, but you’re going to be rested. You guys I’m sure you’ve heard me say it before, but made one of the major pieces that’s missing all of endurance sports is the ability to go and rest the ability to go and recover and be your best. Agreed I’m shocked through the years at the January nationals when we would have January nationals everybody’s like could train super hard through Christmas, it’s so hard to do that. I’m going fishing during Christmas, and I probably won’t ride my bike. And and I would I would have this huge decline during the Christmas season of how much training I would do. But I was keeping in the back of my head I had 145 minute race at Nationals. Fitness wasn’t that much what I was worried about, I was worried about making sure that I could still sprint and still handle my bike. So if I lost a little fitness wasn’t going to be a big deal if I could tie into that the high end power and the technical stuff.


Trevor Connor  32:47

So rest makes a big, big difference. One of my favorite things in the world is when I have an athlete that I can tell they’re getting tired, and they need a rest. I’ll have them take a week off and the whole week they’re sitting there going, Yeah, I need to get back on the bike and need to train and losing all my fitness and like just just trust me on this. And when they come back I mean first interval session, they’ll be a little rusty. They have the legs but then the next interval session. They’re putting out PR numbers. Yeah, what’s going on? I just took a week off. I should be out of shape. No, no, your your rep.


Grant Hollicky  33:16

Max is nothing like this. Nothing like that at



all mad cane.


Trevor Connor  33:22

Like attached to him. Yeah,



don’t have a choice. Yeah,


Grant Hollicky  33:25

I love how Chris has just learned to just pile on. Just broke like we’ve been in here for you know, 45 minutes and he’s thrown him at max now to know i i Trevor, you’re absolutely right.


Trevor Connor  33:38

Just Just quickly, and we’re gonna do a part two on a coaching episode we did a little bit we’re gonna get YouTube back and talk about the importance of that respect and dignity.


Grant Hollicky  33:49

Well, we can bring them all and we could bring Eric and Denzel and give



us four microphones for the next time we ride together.


Grant Hollicky  33:55

Oh yeah, more Wow. Cheese. No, you can’t for the friends and you can’t put enough for the explicit ease on that either.



Be grant pbV I don’t even know where we work



no matter how I’m horrible at wrestling.


Grant Hollicky  34:09

Yeah, Max is pretty bad at wrestling. But he it’s it’s for the right reasons, right? It’s, hey, I want to keep getting better. I want to keep progressing. I feel the progression. I know things are going well. I know I’m loaded. I’m know I’m tired. But we want to keep this going. Right? We want to keep this going. And in being pre emptive is something that it’s a real luxury of having coached an athlete for a long time used to know when those cracks are going to start to show you and you learn from the mistakes. Last year was a big learning year.



Yeah as racing cars racing with 303 project last year is the first season I done when I was growing up. I did I was racing cyclocross. It’s not a lot of fun having some success. I was like I don’t need to train that hard. I can just ride around my friends on their path and do well Nash right



right. And then I was like



going to Worlds I was like I still want even a trainer. I just need to like be able to ride through the corners fast. And then the last year The first year I was racing road at a high level consistently through the season. And I sort of get addicted to the whole being tired thing and just training through it. And I dug myself a giant hole not against grants, grants advice. I basically decided grant doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I can get ready for the Colorado classic by myself, showed up horribly tired, giant hole, made it two days dropped out the back and basically spent the entire cross season last year, unmotivated and overtrained and tired. And so last, like the last season for me was basically throw away because the whole time I was tired the whole time. I was like,



so that explains Yeah.



And it’s like, so it’s like, and and then now this year, since I learned a little bit of things. I’ll take three days off after every road race today. I’ll go to do he’ll take three days off, did nationals took a whole week off middle of the season getting ready for Utah stuff, but like, yeah, I think rest is an underrated asset. We


Chris Case  35:59

say that very often on this show. Thank you for confirming Yeah, we I hate but but it helped us out, it helps us out it helps


Grant Hollicky  36:08

in with Max, there’s some very specific things like he can spend a certain amount of time, if we want to get technical, he can spend a certain amount of time at a specific CTL. But if he spends more time there, he’s going to crack. So we actively are trying to bring that down, which for a lot of us that use training peaks or use stress scores, we love to watch that line go up and up and up and up and up love it. And in understanding when it’s time to pull the pin on that a little bit or even what your ceiling is on that right. It’s not more is not better. So find to find that balance. It goes back to that whole thing of these metrics are great. They help guide you. But the metrics aren’t


Trevor Connor  36:46

the goal, right? racing as the guy I’ve had those conversations with people, they’re like, well, I’m racing off like, look at my seat.



Yeah, absolutely.



Might be a negative 50. Right now. That number is real high.


Trevor Connor  37:00

Yeah. So moving on to the next thing on our list here. Do we talked about the overview of the season for a cross rider but let’s say you’re a roadie or a mountain biker who just wants to tack some cross onto their season? What’s your suggestion as the road season or mountain bike seasons winding down? How do they approach it,


Grant Hollicky  37:18

I would, I would try to transition right into a little bit of cross you know, use that fitness that you have race a couple cross races, then take a break. And you know, if you really enjoyed a great take a week off and come back and do some of the later season races. I don’t think you can race a full road season or mountain bike season and expect to go right into a cross season and not blow up somewhere in that crosses and you need a break somewhere. But I do think that if it’s if cross is a secondary piece to you go in there with all that fitness that you’ve developed because of road or because of mountain bike and and the seasons very much are seamless, especially out here in Colorado, you can roll right out a road, steamboat stage, race is typically the last thing on our schedule in Colorado. And that’s already two weekends in across here. So you can roll out of steamboat get on your cross bike, and go. And the same thing is true for gravel now, and I’ll throw this out to everybody that’s has a cross bike or a gravel bike. They work in the other discipline, they really, really do everybody know.



You need 10 bikes.


Grant Hollicky  38:21

Well, you do need 10 bikes, but that’s neither here nor there. Your cross bike and your gravel bike can double as one another get into a race coming off the gravel season on that gravel bike, maybe


Trevor Connor  38:30

you change up the tires, but use that fitness to your advantage, then maybe look for a break. I’m gonna get in trouble for saying this. But I did actually at velonews when they’re making fun of me for using my cross bike for gravel riding. I just looked at and said, What’s the difference between a cross bike and an a gravel bike? And there’s no there’s big difference. I’m like, What are the differences and nobody can


Chris Case  38:51

give you an answer. He talked to our tech editor, I was


Grant Hollicky  38:56

about to say they’re about three people there. Chris



was wearing a dirty Kansa t shirt. That means anything that’s clean that’s clean.


Grant Hollicky  39:07

Yeah, yeah, there I mean, there are differences but you can use each one of the but you could use


Chris Case  39:12

a road bike if you really want it to.



Yeah, it’s a lot


Trevor Connor  39:14

of fun.



I mean, I saw I broke my I don’t ride my road bike off road for if Danny’s listening.


Trevor Connor  39:36

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Trevor Connor  41:05

There is always that question that I personally get asked when I work with Kairos athletes of that challenge of the seasons short, you’re racing every weekend. So it’s hard to get through the season. But there’s also we haven’t even touched on this, that importance of getting your start position. So sorry, just take a quick step back for all of our listeners who aren’t cross riders, just so you know, you don’t your start position where where you line up. And the start line has nothing to do with just showing up early and grabbing a spot like it does in road racing. It’s actually pre determined based on points. So everybody has a particular position that they’re given on the start line based on how they performed in past races. And this is really important, because if you get that last spot, your chances of winning that race or even being in the top 10 is not great. So there are some people who say I need to come into the season on top form to establish my start position. But then, you know, let’s say they’re the racing states at the end of October, beginning of November, it’s really hard to carry that form. Yeah. Versus should you come into the season a little less hot, and build up towards your target event?


Grant Hollicky  42:10

Well, I think everybody’s different. And everybody’s individual goals are different. You have to really work around those goals. And you’ll have those unique athletes like Denzel Stephenson or say Brady cap, yes, you can win a whole shot from row eight. Right? But most of us can’t do that. So understanding Yeah, I got to get myself to the front, I got to understand how to race from the front, because the different race, you know, if you can take the first corner and forth. First, it’s a different race than when you’ve taken it 12th. So speaking of your point of getting that start position and how you do that, my big thing is to just be careful, you don’t have to get addicted to being fourth call up instead of fifth call up. Right. And I do think that that’s where it eventually gets to. I personally believe season is short enough that you can come into it pretty darn hot. And with the pros, we don’t really have a choice. The domestic, the two World Cups are September. So our pro athletes in years past, we’ve had to come into that season, incredibly hot and a couple years back, went back to the World Cups. We came into the season flying in the World Cups were great. And then it was this balancing act of how do we rest and where do we go? And what are we trying to do, combined with sickness and had some issues there. But I think you have to come in hot, I think there you have to come in ready to race, you can race yourself into fitness. But in a season, that’s three and a half months long. If you build improper brakes, after four weeks of racing or five weeks of racing, you can hold pretty darn high form for a long time during the cross season.


Chris Case  43:47

I think to go back to Trevor’s question a little bit, if depending on where you are and how they base your call up with does it’s done different ways throughout the country. But if you’re getting called up and you’re on the third row, and that worries you, I think that’s a different issue than if you’re worried about coming in hot to the season to get points right away so that you don’t have to face that issue. Yeah, because if you’re back there, you just have to get comfortable with being back there. And that is something you can work on by honestly like doing group rides just being comfortable in that situation so that you’re not panicking. Yeah, you’re not making mistakes because you’re so nervous because you’re surrounded by people and everything’s flying by you. And then you have to work on your patients because if you’re good enough to be at the front, but you’re not starting at the front, then you just have to patiently wait to get there because like you said, there’s very few people that can go from the third row to the front. That quick in the hole shot the whole shot.


Grant Hollicky  44:48

But you Chris has had this experience of going back to cross after a couple years off and having zero points and starting at the back. And it was inevitable that he you know, for lack of a better way to put it Slap me on the ass as you came by in the race and said here we go and I’m like how is it lap? Three? Yeah, thanks jerk um but but understand part


Trevor Connor  45:09

you don’t know about that is Chris’s warm up was he was babysitting his daughter while he was



still with? Yes,


Grant Hollicky  45:16

that was the funny thing is we were at some cross races together literally with strollers kitted up helmets on bouncing a kid watching wives come across the line handing the gift off and then go into the lawn. I


Chris Case  45:29

was quitting season.


Grant Hollicky  45:30

But I think that I think one of the things in this may be better in a different place. But that understanding of you don’t have to make up every one of those spots and holeshot absolutely, you know, in a lot of ways we’ll talk about be where you want to be. Within reason, by the end of lap one, you have an entire lap to work yourself into this race. And we talk about that a lot in the pro races that it’s gonna split. one lap in two laps in that long line eventually splits and depending on the course it splits earlier, and depending on course it splits later. But you have an amount of time to get to the front. And when we pre route a course we’ll sit down and say we think you have two laps to get to the front. We think you have half a lap to get to the front. And and then we’ll talk about where in that group you want to be pending on the course you can afford to be fifth in the group.


Chris Case  46:22

Yeah, it’s not to the front as in leading the race to the front group with the players you want to be next, so that if they move, you can move with them. Absolutely.



And using all those races that aren’t like your goal races as an opportunity to learn and practice. Yep. Because there’s, you’re always going to be in a position where especially if you’re trying to focus on nationals, right, the odds that you’re on the front row nationals is pretty slim. So being able to start third, fourth, fifth 10th row, you’re gonna have to pass people. And the best way to work on passing people. Is that those races that you’re starting on third row. Yep, yeah. And like one of the other athletes, Korean coaches, Danny Arman has is, I feel like she’ll be okay with this horrible starter, horrible starter, but really good at passing people and like racing so much on racing, the other people in the race and not necessarily racing to get to the front, but you’re in a group of five, it’s halfway through the race, the odds that you get to the front group now are really slim, you got to be pretty good to get all the way up there. But each opportunity, each race is a different opportunity to race that group. Because just because you’re racing for 10, or 15. If you’re racing against five people, you’re still racing against five people, there’s going to be a point where you’re racing against five people for the win, and knowing where to sit in the group not to be on the back, but to be near the front, second or third wheel so that you’re not getting the rubber band effect. Like going into all the races that aren’t necessarily gold races. And being able to learn and use the experiences you’re getting during the race is an invaluable part.


Chris Case  47:50

I sat down with Katie Compton, who is one of the US National cyclocross championships a whopping 15 years in row. I don’t think I need to say anything more than that. Here’s what Katie has to say about training for cross. So how do you approach any given season in terms of cyclocross specific training skills, the shortness of that season? What How do you mix in running all of those things? It’s a it’s a little more complicated than people might think on the surface.



It is a little bit more complicated. Especially for a lot of bike riders. Okay, yeah, we might set up cyclocross as our main season. But we’re doing mountain bike we’re doing road. So bike racing nowadays is, instead of a six month period, it’s it seems like it’s turning into like a 12 month period. ization with all the disciplines and then trying to be strong at the one you want to be good at. For me personally, it’s changed every year because as I get older, my body changes, health issues change, you know, you get hurt, I want to do mountain biking on one new road, maybe we do track. So for me, I kind of I change it up every year, just because I think it’s my body needs as well as my mental motivation to keep doing this for so long. So for me, like my offseason and a lot of cyclocross racers are all season is into February or sometimes march in April. So it just kind of base it off into the offseason. And then start with the building for cyclocross with you know, the base and like the foundation part with like, the tempo and aerobic intervals and some on the bike strength work. lt stuff, kind of just build like you would normal season with setting up for the periodization to be more specific in the fall and doing the sprint and speed work in the fall more so than doing it in the spring that you would for road season.


Chris Case  49:48

Where do you mix in skills? Are you specifically working on that stuff at this point in your career? having so much experience with that? Do you mix that in? Do you mix in running And when do you do that, um,



I saw I did incline which is in Mansi. springs here, which I do kind of throughout the season, off and on. And then I’m running as the season gets closer, mainly because for me, I struggle with being able to ride Well, if I’m running well. So and I don’t know why that is just where my body is. But the years I’ve done a lot of running to be better at running have sucked on the bike part of it. And so, for me, I try to focus more on the riding part, and then just do enough running to be good on the run parts, but not necessarily run all the time. And I think as a coach, it just depends on the athlete, if the athlete likes to run is a good runner, I’ll have them do more running more for the year. But if they just want to run to the cross, I’ll start adding the running probably in August, and kind of really ease into it so they can avoid the Dom’s with it. And you can still be productive on the bike. For cross, especially domestic us, we don’t run a lot. Like you know, your barriers, you run stairs, you’re on steep hills, but we don’t have enough mud races we’re running is really an issue. So we’re off training to be a good bike rider. And, you know, having running be you know, it’s kind of on the back burner, because you only need it for sprinting up a cPanel or sprinting up the staircase for five to 10 seconds. So you don’t need need to necessarily do a bunch of running to begin with that.


Chris Case  51:23

Now do you do any specific drills or with people that you may have coached you do any specific cornering drills or start drills things like that?



Yeah, yes. Um, for me, personally, I kind of work on that stuff all year round, whether on the mountain bike, the road bike, the cross bike, I ride all the bikes all year round. And I dismount the same way on every bike. So I’m constantly practicing the cross dismount. Once you get close to cross season, that’s when I have people do more cross specific stuff. Because it really comes back pretty quickly. And if you’re riding your mountain bike and your road bike through the year, the bike handling skills don’t really go away. You just have to kind of fine tune them for cyclocross. So I kind of start moving towards that in August promotional so racing September,


Chris Case  52:11

I heard in the past that you like to do, whether it’s when you’re pre writing courses, or you might set up a little barrier or a tricky corner in a park somewhere, and you’ll try to hit it faster than race speed, is that something that you actually do? And what’s the logic behind that,



a lot of that is just so you know, your limits. So you can see a corner and you know, you can look at the traction of the corner, if it’s dirt, if it’s grass, if it’s pavement with a little bit of gravel on top of it, like you know how to set up for that corner, you know where to look for that corner, the shifting the braking, kind of what the limits of your tires are, it’s good to practice that outside of the race situation outside of the maybe pre ride situation, just because you’re not nervous when you’re practicing it. And you can practice it and people aren’t watching too. So it’s hard to practice the same corner during a pre ride because it’s hard to go back and forth and I can people’s way and maybe try it the same same way and also ride at a certain speed. So it’s good to practice that stuff kind of on your own in a park. You know, with the same corner so you can get used to you know the Bible, do you know what you’re gonna do you know how to react and if you dump it in the turn, he’s nobody’s there to laugh?


Chris Case  53:25

Absolutely, yeah. Do you have any go to workouts that you do when you need to really fine tune things before a big event, whether it’s a Tabata style interval session, or a something that incorporates a little bit of interval work with some skill work all combined into one



I do especially I’m in Belgium, I have a great opportunity to do it. Because the force we have to train in has all those elements. It’s got singletrack, it got hills, it’s got sand, it’s got, you know, fast sections and slow sections, so I can work on that. So depending on like Sam racing, a sand re cycled ciders coming up, and I’m in Belgium, the week leading up to that, or maybe before that, I’ll do more specific sand training, I’ll do intervals in the sand, I’ll do run intervals in the sand, try to write as far as I can the sand, go through turns in the sand, try to hit the ruts, just more sand specific stuff. And a lot of it is whether to sand race, a mud race, a fast race, doing the intervals in a way where you’re doing high intensity, you’re kind of at your limit. And you’re also trying to ride a rut you’re trying to do like really smooth technique work and technical stuff, because you need to be able to do those things when you’re max when you’re VSU when you’re struggling because that’s when you know somebody’s gonna attack you or that’s when maybe you have to get back on that wheel. And so it’s good to practice the technical bits while you’re kind of redlined. So for me, I’ll set of intervals where they’re short and sweet. Maybe they’re less than anywhere from 15 seconds to maybe a two minute interval but within that two minute interval of time First of 15 to 30 seconds with full recovery in between where I’m attacking a technical section and then recovering and then attacking the next technical section and then recovering. So for cross, especially during race season, it’s a lot of go hard to cover go Harvey cover, because that’s what across races. So I tried to simulate, you know what the actual skills you need in across race during the season. And then for outside the season, that’s when you’re working on your aerobic base and your foundation, and your, you know, LTE power and that sort of thing.



Let’s get back to the show and take a deeper dive into the training and technical side of cross.


Grant Hollicky  55:38

One last thing, it’s probably a really nice thing to note for a lot of our masters riders or the people that are working their way through the categories, as you go lower in categories. So closer to the cat one or closer to the pro field, or the open fields, the likelihood of more group style racing increases, we see a lot in cat three cat for the strongest people when and it doesn’t really there’s not a lot of strategy to it, you hit the hand, you hit it hit the throttle, you hold it down, and you go. So back to what we were talking about before. That’s one of the reasons I think I get a lot of athletes coming to me that are now tattoo or nerd taking the leap to Pro. And they’ve been so good at just going to the front and dominating the field by writing a really strong tempo the whole time. Now they’re coming into a setting that’s completely different. And they’re getting beat and they’re getting dropped out the back for reasons they can’t even fathom, where they’re placed in the group did they have the start they needed to have were they able to do these things. So as the racing gets more competitive, as the racing gets faster, you’re going to see more of these group tactics start to play out and where you put yourself in the group really becomes a tactical advantage or disadvantage. Yes, it’s


Chris Case  56:51

not just about brawn at that point, you have to use some intelligence, you have to think about positioning and a lot of these other things to to take advantage of the tactics. Yeah, without a doubt.



I think that is an underrated part of cyclocross is the technical aspect. I grew up with the bjc program, and also coach for them too. And it’s all focused on fun and technical skills. And by cameleon, in if you race in Colorado, you know, all the bjc kids are on all the podiums from cat fours to like the program to open races. Yeah, and those kids don’t have the same engine, as most of the racers on the road. But it’s the the cornering ability, that’s going to save you five seconds lap. It’s going over the barriers, five seconds faster lap, and now all those things add up. Mm hmm. So I think a lot of people get trapped in the Oh, I need to be able to sprint, I need to be able to hold this certain amount of watts for this long. But when really like this 12 year old, can corner faster than you can’t sprint, can’t do can’t last for almost 40 minutes, but he can corner faster, it can do all the other pieces faster. And a lot of people see big leaps and bounds.


Chris Case  57:58

Yeah, if if there’s 20 corners on a cyclocross course. And you’re taking even a half a second per corner. Yeah, it’s it’s easy math.


Trevor Connor  58:07

Exactly. This is your Valentine. So this is the one story I was going to share. I coached a cyclocross rider a few years back, who may or may not have worked developers. And he kept sitting there saying I need to work in the engine need to work in the engine, he was losing the races by about two minutes. And I was trying to get him out to go, I actually wanted him to go out to your session, and work on the skills I was trying to get him to go out with Chris and work on skills, and he wouldn’t do that. And finally was actually a race at Belmont, where he lost by two minutes. And he calls me up. And he’s complaining again, the engine is just not there. And thanks to Strava, I showed him there’s this one technical descent. And I showed him that every single lap, he lost 10 seconds on the leader on that technical descent. Yeah, and you add that up, and you go, that was the that was basically all the time that you lost.


Grant Hollicky  59:00

Yeah. And there’s another piece to that, too. I mean, I noticed when I was going through my progression of learning how to raise cross and I always had a pretty good engine, from a triathlon background, and even a swimming background and things like that. But what really made the difference was, wasn’t just being able to handle the technical aspects of it, being able to handle the technical aspects of it calmly, being able to to, it didn’t freak me out, I wasn’t on my edge, I was comfortable going through those pieces so that, you know, I wasn’t grabbing the brakes at the last minute, it was a little bit nervous and then having to chase back on and that’s the other piece we don’t talk about very much. If your technical skills aren’t quite there, the power you’re going to use in order to get back to the talent at the group or get back to that person ahead of you. It’s just burning match after match after match, which you’re already doing and across race. So how do you save that? How do you take that back and take that in? And yeah, I mean, this is this is a huge piece of the development but it’s very, very hard to find Ways to practice it and very hard to find ways to get better at it.


Chris Case  1:00:03

Yeah. Well, that’s, that brings up another question. I know, it’s difficult maybe to to explain, but for both of you like, Is it just does it just come down to experience? like doing a technical thing over and over again? Whether it’s funny having barriers or a dissent, or, or how do you work on it?


Grant Hollicky  1:00:19

Well, I’m not going to speak for max, but I’m going to speak for max a max grew up with a bike attached to what I sound like.


Chris Case  1:00:28

He’s an expert.


Grant Hollicky  1:00:32

You know, Max grew up with a bike attached to him. There’s really no other way to put it that


Trevor Connor  1:00:37

sleeping really



hard. I


Grant Hollicky  1:00:42

i bathtime really strange but





Grant Hollicky  1:00:46

But you know what? And I do think it’s a little bit.


Chris Case  1:00:50

Yeah. Starting young, what you’re getting at is Yeah, the younger the better. Well, right. I


Grant Hollicky  1:00:55

mean, cuz these guys are gonna go out at 14 when they feel like they’re invincible, and they’re made of rubber and challenge each other to try this. Try that go down that go over that. Basically,



what’s grant saying is, if you didn’t start riding bikes at 14, and going off jobs and stuff, you’re never gonna be good. But here’s where it’s quit. Now,


Grant Hollicky  1:01:11

nothing new maximum. Let me finish Maxwell, let me finish. Max is fantastic at jumping barriers. But then there is a year or two where he stopped. He wasn’t focusing on jumping barriers. And the skill set kind of declined to the point where resulted in a separated shoulder at Cincinnati. And now that very jumps, you take another step back, because he’s on the road so much. And so where do you find the time that to work those skills? So it’s not just time on the bike, it’s really focused, deliberate time on the bike. And what it is that you’re trying to do, you know, one of my favorite stories back when I was coaching on crew golf was out and used to talk about, I can’t do loose gravel, left hand turns, let’s grab a right hand turns no problem. I can’t go left interesting. And like, right, and left, and after time, you know, two years later, he’s like, Yeah, well, my right hand turns in are better than my left, because he just would focus on it all the time, gravel paths and hit the turns fast. So so that piece of being able to you and or your coach, identify where the weaknesses is that are technically and then put deliberate practice into those skills. Yeah.


Chris Case  1:02:23

And I think it also comes back to something you already mentioned, which is that confidence, like you have to slowly get confidence because that is the foundation upon which you progress when it comes to technical stuff a lot of the time. The other thing I’m gonna bring up to is patience. A lot of people go out to do one practice session, right to see huge results.


Trevor Connor  1:02:42

I’ll even tell you from my own experience, as Chris knows, I really lost my descending skills. I’m not going to go into the backstory behind it. When I came back to Colorado, and in January, I said, Okay, I’m going to turn back into a great dissenter and I got really frustrated, because all January and February still sucked. I’m much better now. But it was a very, very, very slow progression of doing a lot of descending and it’s gonna be the same thing with cross, you’re going to have to go out and keep doing session after session after session and be okay with the fact that those first few sessions you might go, I didn’t see any improvement, I suck, why can’t I get better? It’s going to happen over time.


Grant Hollicky  1:03:21

Well, and I think also the progression is stepwise, right? You’re gonna or you’re gonna see this massive progression and then the the curve shallows out right. But to us, it feels like we’re taking a step back. And and and then the remember that, that the stressing of racing in the stressors of cross are always going to show those things back up. I mean, it’s been a long time since I stutter stepped on a rebound. But when I’m going into something, and it’s loose, and it’s the wrong camber, and it’s all those things, all of a sudden, you go, why did I just set this up? I mean, the nerves or the fear come into it. And that’s going to have an effect. And I think



even just riding with your friends and training partners that happen to be better at certain aspects in you, because we ride I ride my two teammates, Denzel and Eric, they both also grew up through bjc. Really, really good, technically, Mm hmm. way faster over the years than almost anyone I know. And we’ll go to go look at drops and stuff. And I’m like, I’m like, there’s no way that anyone could ride that. And then, but there’s three of us. So we don’t want to be like, well,



then you push each other. I can’t



ride that. It’s like, well, who’s gonna do it first, then someone doesn’t. You’re like, Well,



I have to do



  1. Now that I see that it’s doable. It’s easy.


Grant Hollicky  1:04:30

And then I ride it fall on my face. I feel a lot better about themselves in general. Exactly. Comic Relief, mostly. And


Chris Case  1:04:38

you post that stuff on Instagram, which I really like about you.


Grant Hollicky  1:04:41

Yeah, I have as much pride in my failures. And my successes, and I have a lot more failures. Yes,



there you go. There you go. And you just find like different lines. And once once someone else does it, you’re like, oh, now much better.



I can do that.


Grant Hollicky  1:04:54

Right. Yeah. And I and I, that’s a huge piece of finding some people to ride with because They’re gonna have strengths you don’t have. And it’s not about speed or writing ability, or watts, or any of those things, you know, I’ll go ride with my wife, as you probably do with yours. And then every once in a while, you’re like, Wow, she did that really, really, really well. And I’ve been doing this for



you, right? 40 years?



Not quite


Grant Hollicky  1:05:24

  1. But getting into that place, and they’d gone well, hey, how did what do you think about when you do that, because they’re coming at it from a completely different angle. Because I know my wife picked up a bike very late in life. So I think all of those things can be really interesting. And that’s why I think it’s fun to have a group to work with. That’s why I’m really excited about having Chris McGovern, who I mentioned earlier, join us at, he’s Toby Norton blatz. Coach join us in forever endurance, we look at things mostly the same, but those differences really can give us a lot.



And even when you’re going to races like finding someone to pre ride with, so that they can look at different lines. Like when we go to races, we’re really lucky because we have I’ve done that on air and grant there. And you know, we’ll go up to a section that might be a ride might be a run, and we have for people to try it out again, so we’ll try to ride it and grant will grants. He might not be as good technically, but he is a fast runner. So we’ll go up to the sections and we’ll try to ride it and grant just like booking it pasture.



Yeah, well, so running. Yeah.



Yeah. And you just you look at he’s the excavator. He’s really good at excavating the ruts gotcha.



Yeah. Or giant craters giant crater,


Chris Case  1:06:34

myself well, to describe how would you describe grants to listeners out there?



grant grant looks like a bowling ball with arms and legs.



But he’s not.



He’s not over my favorite. My favorite.



He’s built like he lifts my favorite story at all. I love the little bit. Not


Trevor Connor  1:06:51

much. My



favorite story about grant disease telling me that he was back when he was playing waterpolo. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Hundred 92. What do you like five to






392 pounds goes to doctors severely.









I’m with 4% body.


Grant Hollicky  1:07:10

I’m five, eight, mind you. But five, eight and in my weight. My wife is a registered dietician. And we laugh a lot that according to BMI I am on the borderline of morbidly obese. Yeah. Not just obese, but morbidly obese, like



3% body. So,


Grant Hollicky  1:07:28

yeah, it’s just proof that all shapes and sizes can race cross. Absolutely.



So not necessarily well, but


Grant Hollicky  1:07:40

that’s okay. That’s okay. We’re okay with them.


Trevor Connor  1:07:43

Well, five foot two, you’re so Aaron, I guess the big advantage? The barriers are huge for me.



Because he’s on 650.


Chris Case  1:07:52

They don’t make bikes big enough. He and Katie do are on the same. Yeah, yes.


Grant Hollicky  1:07:54

And we digress.


Chris Case  1:07:57

We do.


Trevor Connor  1:07:58

Yes, we So what are some of your favorite workouts for cross?


Grant Hollicky  1:08:03

Let’s ask Max, Max, this first, what’s your What’s your favorite workout that we do? For cross.



I like the game workouts where we will do in a group race around the course. And like work on passing or accelerating out corners, like one of one of the ones I like a lot is we’ll set up a square. And you basically are sprinting to the next corner in the square. And we’ll do it for a minute, two minutes, or racing with your friends like on a course trying to like pursuit style. So one starts at the top one starts at the bottom and you are trying to catch that other person for two minutes and they stop or if you catch him, he can stop. But things that make the training seem like more fun, especially coming off a long road season where it’s like, okay, hit these numbers for this long, and then go ride for six hours. It’s fun to do the okay just try to go catch the heads up. Try to get don’t lie there.


Chris Case  1:08:57

It’s simpler.



Yeah. So it reflects the other things you see in racing. And so you you have to be on you have to be at your at the high heart rate and you’re going through the corners, you got to accelerate on the corners, you got to nail that the to switch back and pop out of it. And so it’s not just Okay, I need to hold my vo to max for two minutes, I got to hold on to max and B to cornering and try not to let this person pass me not slide out. Yeah, all the aspects come into play.


Grant Hollicky  1:09:22

And from a coaching aspect. I’ll design those based on knowing we’re going to do this for two minutes. And that’s my two minute effort right? Or we’re going to do whistle sprints where I know for the most part, they’re riding tempo because they’re riding together so they’re not gonna ride slow. And we’re doing maybe a longer course now and over the course of that five minutes, 10 minutes we’re going to whistle sprint, whistle blows all out. Race each other whistle blows again regroup. And so what we’re trying to do in those group sessions and it’s really quite simple to to do them with your buddies, right is is fine, that distance that You’re trying to work, one minute power 32nd Power Five Minute power, Sprint power, and then translate that into some sort of a contest or game, something that’s interactive. So we’ll do, we’ll do a lot with the whistle, like, on and off stuff on 40. The Fox 40 whistle, they were ready. That’s very coach like, oh, man, they were ready to bury that thing last year, I think. But we’ll also do, you know, within small frameworks have a box or or a 32nd course, or even a 15 second course and started either enter that course and try to catch each other. And we’ll do this in all conditions. Yeah, I


Chris Case  1:10:37

mean, some of the most fun workouts I did last year was when I joined you guys, we went one time to the reservoir here, which has a lot of sand, you guys were preparing for a race that had a lot of sand in it. And you were it was, it was skills combined with efforts, right, it was creating this tiny little loop with some tight little corners and doing some pursuit style stuff on that little course till there was one person standing at the end. Yeah, and it was me. And then off to the side.



You’re doing right.


Chris Case  1:11:09

And then that one in the snow that you know, they’re similar stuff where it was skills and fitness, all wrapped into one and all light hearted and fun, but you’re getting a lot out of it. So


Trevor Connor  1:11:21

there’s not that when you bring up the one point, the one thing that I wanted to add to this part of the conversation which which you’ve you’ve already hit on, but just to emphasize it is this is what’s unique about cross and it’s one thing to go out and do skills work at a slow pace and then say I’m ready for the race, you need to be doing the skills work at speed. So doing intervals where you work in a skills component. So the one I had Chris do on his own last year was a those two minute efforts. But we’ll be the first minute on the bike, and then run up a set of stairs as a second minute or go over some barriers have like that just to work in skills at speed. Yeah, we


Grant Hollicky  1:11:57

had a classic a couple years back or one we use a lot for road and cross is minute on minute off 45 on 45 off 30 on 30 off 15 on 15 off. But we did that with a dismount in the middle of each one of those. One year we did it with the the 50 to 80 steps as a piece of each one of those things. So steps were in the middle, the minute steps are in the middle, the 45 steps were in the middle of the 30. And the steps were the 15. You know, and and, Trevor, you’re absolutely right, that idea of how do I okay, yes, I have an effort. But this is something we haven’t touched on a lot like, Where’s the writing effort come in? Mm hmm. You know, how do we play into that running effort and what we’re trying to do and running into the skills and into what we’re trying to do as well. I basically think my favorite cross workouts are the ones that aren’t sustained. The Racing’s not sustained. I’m a big believer in non sustained efforts for the road to because other than time trialing or climbing on your own, you’re not racing a sustained pace or sustained power. And even unless it’s a pancake Flat TT, you’re having some variance in what you’re doing as well. So even in our longer threshold efforts, having spikes in the middle of it, what we’re sprinting or sprinting out of those efforts and things like that. So our my favorite cross workouts are the ones that have a lot of variability. And I think that that lends to an enjoyment for a lot of these guys too.



So we look for that. And it doesn’t matter how high your vo two is or how high your threshold is. You look at people really good pro road Pros will show up to cross race all the time, get their doors blown off, and like they can drop me anywhere you can draw most of the people in the field anywhere they want. But it doesn’t matter if you can do 500 watts if you can’t do it on the course. So doing those, that high intensity work while you’re having to focus and corner is an underrated piece to combination. Yep.


Trevor Connor  1:13:47

So you brought up running? Yeah, should you be doing dedicated running work?


Grant Hollicky  1:13:51

I think so if for no other reason just to kind of get used to the pounding that’s going to come into your joints. I think that there’s a lot of ways to work that in you don’t necessarily need to go for runs, per se, although I think most people would be surprised at how much the pro cyclocross people are running, and a given training block. But we tend to try to look for our standalone runs to be based on power and strength. So we do a lot of uphill running, sustained, steady uphill running a few years back. One of my athletes at the at the high level was doing the incline once a week down in Colorado Springs. And once you went to the World Cups hit it showed up. She was pretty phenomenal on the run efforts. And even on the slog power riding efforts because it was very much a strength piece of what they do. Our guys are running once a week pretty well in the road season often too. And a lot of times they’re to the point now where they’re asking me to bring the running back. They like what it does, how they feel.


Chris Case  1:14:51

So but I think you double sessions like a ride in the morning and a run in the afternoon.


Grant Hollicky  1:14:54

Yeah, often we’ll put the run with the strength workouts, or we’ll take that on a team They will do our intervals we’ll do the stuff we’re going to do set the bikes down and do $1 Hill sprints in the cycling shoes as a standalone piece, and then come back to it. One of the things we did the other day with running there was actually a lot of fun you missed it was we were doing just a general gravel ride. And we got on some of the pass out and nyuad and the long sustained climbs It was 20 pedal strokes riding, jump off 10 running strides, 20 pedal strokes riding jump off, 10 running strides, off, on off on off on. So there’s a whole bunch of things that we’re playing around with with that component. One other thing that’s that’s interesting to note about the running and we’ve seen this, in years past the years, we’ve had to do a lot of trainer sessions leading international sort of World Cups. We’ve run better. And I have this little theory that the higher cadence work that we do typically on the trainer’s translate it to high cadence running, listening. We really saw that at Hartford, the long run up at Hartford a couple years ago and snow. It was long and it was slick. So it was a lot about quickness with the Wii. And we had done a lot of trainer sessions, because we just had a really hard winter leading into that. And across the board, whether it was max or was Yannick that year or Amanda Miller that they ran phenomenally that year. And I really think there’s some crossover, the high cadence work on the bike can translate to quick feet on the run, fascinate



and running. Similar things that you’re gonna see in the cross courses to like, we’re not when we go run, we’re not going for jogs on the bike on the bike path or on the road, like we’re running the trails, we’re running steep hills with rocks, so you have to pick where your feet are going, your feet are sliding. And so when you have to make the passes on the run, and it’s loose, or you have to run up the icy hills, like you’re used to slipping, you’re used to not just being able to jog along, but you’re used to sprinting up those hills, focusing on where your foot placement is using your hands. And like being ready for those steep runs. Because a lot in running and cyclocross unless it’s super muddy. It’s not just slowed rajhans, you’re going in something really steep and you’re sliding around.


Trevor Connor  1:17:03

So why don’t we swing back around and just kind of finish up here with some tips, suggestions about how to race across race.


Grant Hollicky  1:17:11

I think one of the most important things you need to do is get out on that course before you race. The course. Of course inspection is critical, because it’s going to it’s going to draw out how you want to race that race. And and as a side note, I think a lot of people warm up on courses completely incorrectly, they have a tendency to go hard on the uphills and they have a tendency to go slow on the downhills or the switchback stuff. You don’t need to warm up on across course going hard on the uphill like that uphill it Valmont, you know, it’s hard pedal hard, there’s nothing there’s no rocket science by but you ought to be trying to rip that descent two to three times, what’s my line going to be into this? What’s My Line out of this going to be? Where do I want to go in the sandpit I want to go right, do I want to go left? Those pieces are major pieces. One of the things that we do with our guys is I’ll race in the morning, typically, and then bring a load of information to the guys when they go on pre ride. And I can’t keep up with them even when they pre ride but I’ll feed them that information. And something Pete Weber who’s a local coach here and runs BJ CO, he says, where’s the crux of the course, where is the biggest difference going to be made in this course, where’s the make or break point in this course. And we’ll talk about where that is, and then how to address it. And we go through a lot of that before the race and in warm up. And then that dictates how you want to race the race. I think it’s very tough sell for anybody who’s raised cross the tell somebody, we can come off the line not all going all out and you can kind of ease your way into the race. There’s not a lot of that going on. Very often there are cases where that that unique approach can work but it’s pretty rare. You’re gonna have to go out there pretty darn hard. But you know where one of the things that I like to talk about in across races, it’s not the sustained. Alright, I got this guy got a gap on me or I’m trying to get away. I’m just gonna slowly but surely try to creep away. Where’s the section that I’m going to attack and close that gap by two to three seconds all at once? Where’s that section almond attack? And open my gap? I two to three seconds all at once.


Chris Case  1:19:21

So two to three seconds doesn’t sound like much maybe if you’re a roadie. Yeah. isn’t much on a road. So it can be the that make or break moment in across race because sometimes the that just physical or mental or both. It’s that distance that you’re like, oh man, I’m never going to bring this back. You can just feel it


Grant Hollicky  1:19:41

right. And I think that’s funny because you’ll watch a five second gap go for for like the laps of a race. It just sits there. It’s just a five second gap and they can’t close it. And this is what I kind of preach to if like if you’re trying to close that gap, attack a section you think you’re good at and try to shut that gap down. And so how to create a race Across race,


Trevor Connor  1:20:00

man, it


Grant Hollicky  1:20:01

really, really varies by course. I wish I could give that blanket answer, but


Chris Case  1:20:05

it varies by course it varies by individual Max, give us an example of how you when you feel like you’ve raised a super smart race, are there certain things that you’ve done? That you can say, Man that really went? Well, today, regardless of the, regardless of the, you know,


Trevor Connor  1:20:24

have you raised a super smart, right?



Yeah, I think, for me at least having like that good start, and being aggressive from the gun, because then you’re above that you’re in front of the traffic, you’re in front of a lot of traffic, and you’re trying to stay with those leaders, for as long as possible, try to stay with that group you’re with for as long as possible. And then all of a sudden, the gaps are opening up from behind. And we all know that come 30 minutes in to that 45 or an hour long race. It’s hard to close those gaps. And once the gaps are established, if you can watch it all the time in the World Cups, because it’s really exacerbated at that level. But a lot of times Americans we looking at him, like where are they? Well, they started 30th. And then the race split and their 30th. So they can move up all they want, but you’re never going to get to the top 10 Yeah, but when you start in the top 10 you slip, you’re in the top 20 you know, so it’s like, the races that I’ve raced really smart are the ones that I’ve got either gotten lucky or had a good start position and been attacking from the gun. And Jeff Proctor coached the national team for many years here across Canada. adamant about it doesn’t like the only thing that matters really, in the cross races that first lap, you make that first lap with that lead group, you can have the worst race of your life, you’re not going to finish that bad. Because all of those all of those gaps are already formed behind you in this first two laps. So especially for my elbow, like the World Cup levels in that nationals like having those go to first laps and not try not to make many mistakes. And when you do make mistakes recovering and attacking, and moving up in smart positions and taking grant says all the time, take take the spots, your top 10 you want to be in fit, take the spots when you can where you can on this first few laps, because then all the gaps are established after those two laps. Mm hmm. And if you if you fall off, you still have 1015 seconds on the next group. So if they do catch you, you can recover a little bit and then go back to racing.


Grant Hollicky  1:22:23

Yeah, one of the things the boys hear me say and Danny and the women hear me say a lot on the side of the courses move up in the group. I mean, it’s cliche right where’s where’s Damon together, where’s demo when we need him work together, move up. But that idea of don’t just get to the front group, get off the back of the front group take two or three spots in that front group. Max had this phenomenal race a couple years ago it Nittany cross, one of the first race of the year he just kept putting himself in second or third in the group. And it was a group of seven or eight second or third in the group got shuffled back second or third and a group second. A third group came around the last corners and third got third looked at me like what the heck just happened? I got third at a UCI rayson like Yeah, well, you raced it really really smart. And I think we see it at Worlds. We’ve seen it for the last number of years at Worlds Who was that? It was the Spanish guy that was in the top 10 this year at Worlds right and ended up ninth or 10th and we spent the entire race going Who the heck is that guy but he got on the group in the first lap.


Chris Case  1:23:20

And obviously Spanish hero problem. Sure. We don’t know anything about him.


Grant Hollicky  1:23:25

Yeah, but we don’t know who he was because he’d never been there before. Right and and so you get into this place though, where he got there on lap one. He stayed there on lap two, he stayed there on lap three, by lap five or six years dangling lap seven, he was gone. But everybody else is too late. Everybody else is gone. So I know one of the things that I fight in across races, you get to that line, you have all these thoughts of like, I’m gonna go out really hard, I’m gonna win the whole shot and do all this stuff. And then you panic, because Dude, that hurts. You know, that really freaking hurts to go that hard. And then you start justifying, well slot in the fifth, or maybe I will call out. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that. And then the race has gone away from me, you know, I’ll start a race with the goal of I don’t try to win whole shots anymore. A, it’s not really my strength as the as a bowling ball five to 192. Exactly, um, so that acceleration off the line, you know, not quite as quick as maybe physics Mr. Case over here. But if I can slot in third or fourth or fifth, and then maybe work myself up a spot or two or something like that. That way I can see all the splits happening. When you’re 10th or 15th. He can’t even see the split by the time the split is noticed. It’s gone. And you can’t get there. And you’re wasting way more energy spreading out the corners, hitting the brakes way more the rubber band effect is just exacerbated.


Trevor Connor  1:24:50

Yeah, well, I’m hearing is a good cross router. You gotta be five two and 190 and shaped like a bowling ball or have a bike personally. So


Grant Hollicky  1:24:59

no ever said I was getting injured deformities here.



Aged deformity nobody ever saw.


Chris Case  1:25:05

You do have to be a bit off those good.



Yeah those who can’t do teach those who can’t race bikes re cyclocross.


Grant Hollicky  1:25:13

Oh okay all right that’s something you’re okay on the road you’re



okay but but but together you put half and half together really good


Grant Hollicky  1:25:20

yeah cuz all those guys that are dominating the pro peloton I



always cry every single one


Grant Hollicky  1:25:25

I’ll Felipe than I do



like that. No one knew alpha leap race cross until he started. But then he like vanderpol and wow, start doing well. And then all this cyclocross magazines like oh, this guy race class, you’re claiming everyone


Chris Case  1:25:40

know alpha waves in yellow and obviously to Neeson, too.



Yeah, you’re like,



no one cared that anyone race cross and then wild match you show up and they’re like, this guy racers that guy race cars. He raced cross Look at him. He didn’t cross Yeah,


Grant Hollicky  1:25:53

I did one cross race. I will say this as we talk about cyclocross and where it fits in, in cycling in general. There isn’t really a coincidence that so many of these great road athletes have developed out of cross what it teaches young riders the ability to ride at the ends of the spectrum, high end and low in the handling of the bike, the explosive power, and not long durations, we’re not wearing out athletes by racing cross. So watching kids and you 20 threes and juniors develop out across, they walk into their early 20s with a skill set that’s just phenomenal. And then you can lay some volume on top of that, and some nuance training on top of that, and they really have a wonderful base to get really special on a bike. So for for those listeners that have kids that would like to see their kids race bikes, it’s a it’s a pretty phenomenal place to start. And as Chris knows, and I know the ability to bring your family out and have your wife race and have your kids race and spend a day there is really something unique to the sport. And and if you haven’t tried it, I encourage you to get out there and give it a go. I know people with bikes, I’ll loan you a size double x,



small double x.


Chris Case  1:27:09

It’s got it’s got two down tubes to the way.



It’s like very


Chris Case  1:27:17

precise, 46


Grant Hollicky  1:27:18

steel, really good for steel is very real.


Chris Case  1:27:23

Let’s go back to my interview with Katie Compton and hear what she has to say about race strategy and race prep. She has a lot of great advice. But what really struck me is how attentive to every detail she is. For someone like yourself, who’s got so much experience, what are you considering on race day in terms of how to develop your strategy? Are you looking at the course the weather, the competition, your strengths, your weaknesses? All of that? Or are you Yeah, yeah, all of that.



You caught? Yeah, that’s pretty much everything you need look, as a writer as an athlete. First of all, what I do and what I try to talk mathletes into doing is how do you feel today? Or do you do wake up feeling good? Does your you feel tired? Do you get a good night’s sleep? Do you feel like you’re on it? Like mentally fresh, physically fresh? Like how do you feel today, because I feel like the erase strategy needs to start with kind of how you feel. Because if you’re tired, if you’re not feeling great, if you’re a little doll, maybe you’re stressed with work, or maybe you didn’t sleep well that night, you’re not going to want to go and drill it. Maybe you’re a little off. And so you need to you need to know what your body can do and and look at the race and be like, Okay, I’m pretty, I’m feeling tired today, I might start a little conservative and kind of read my competition, see how it’s gonna go. If I feel good things could change or feel bad. It’s like, well, I’m gonna do the most I can with it. Um, so I kind of first see see how you’re feeling. And then after that, look at the race where you’re riding strong, where you feel like you can attack Where do you think the race is going to get, like their winning moods going to happen? What competitions they’re, you know, who’s stronger than you? You know, how can you beat certain riders? Like what can you do to race to your strengths to get the best result you’re capable of? And so there’s a lot of factors that come into that so I try to explore all of them before you know the race starts and make a decision that way.


Chris Case  1:29:15

And how does how do you go about a course inspection you’ve done it literally hundreds and hundreds of times what are you what are you looking for on a course that you know and and of course that you don’t know that you’ve never raced on before?



Um, well, of course that I know that’s pretty easy because depending on the weather, I can choose the tires pretty easily because a race it before I know it, what tires to run tire pressure as well I mark writes it down I also I have a pretty good memory for that stuff. So I can usually start with the right tire pressure or start with, you know that within one psi, the tire pressure probably need for race day. So I just go on throughout the course like that. And even though I’ve seen the course, in years past, I’m still looking for Any new lines that may have been dialed in, I take the bad line and take the good line, I take the perfect Apex line, just in case I need to pass or, you know, conditions change during the race, I know how both all the lines run. And then I kind of think of is it quicker to ride so like what care needs to be in is a quicker to run it like what’s the fastest way to get around this course. So I kind of look at those variables. And then if it’s the weather supposed to change, like if a parade one is dry, and then it’s supposed to rain on race day, I think about you know, tires and tire selection and tire pressures, kind of what I what I might want to run if the weather changes, and then how the lines are going to change as well. And so a lot of it is just doing your homework, preparing, like yourself as best you can to be confident on the course and ride different lines and use different gearing and, you know, try to push it on the downhill, maybe sail fast, you can go without, you know, losing it, but just kind of seeing where your limits are. And then when race day comes, you’re confident in your abilities, and you know how the course is going to race, and you just follow through with your plan.


Chris Case  1:31:03

But wonder if you have any tips for people that aren’t either as experienced or maybe just not as willing to run such low tire pressures as you have had over the years? Because I know, it takes some getting used to a tape. It also in some ways it comes down to whether you want to risk cracking your carbon nice carbon wheels or not.



Fine, what?


Chris Case  1:31:29

Exactly, exactly. So what else? What other tips do you have for people in terms of getting used to it or having the confidence to ride Low, low pressures that can make a huge difference on race day.



Um, for that you have to practice, which means you need to ride your tubulars off road and see how they feel different pressures. Even for me in the early season, I ride clinches on the bike path quite a bit. And I just tire pressures. And even as the season gets closer, I try to ride a little bit lower, just get used to what it feels like to ride on low pressure. Because it does, it’s a transition. I know when I go for my road bike, my cross bike and get out of the saddles like Whoa, that feels weird. And it does it feels weird for the first like few weeks or so. But then once cross season hits, it’s like natural, they’ve run 17 pounds, not notice it, you know it feels Okay, so a lot of is just kind of getting used to the low pressures. And other than that it’s being light on the bike using finesse, it’s unweighting your wheels when you’re going over rough terrain, be careful, careful on turns that are maybe dirt to pavement or pavement to dirt. Or even just having to turn on the pavement just knowing that with low pressure, you can’t lean the bike like usually do. So you have to be a little bit more careful with that. A lot of it is just you’ve got to ride low pressure get used to it, you’ve got to get used to slipping around, feel how your bounces different, maybe try one less psi at a time, just get a feel for it Once you’re comfortable with that maybe go a little bit less. But also just knowing knowing your tires, knowing the traction and knowing the course, because low tire pressure is great when you need it. But if you don’t need it, you’re better off running a little bit higher and decreasing that rolling resistance. So you don’t want to run low pressure, just run the pressure, you want to run the correct pressure for the train. So you get the maximum traction on your tires. And that right that is experienced. And now it’s just time on the bike and time racing your bike and getting feel for it.


Chris Case  1:33:22

And one one thing, I’d like to follow up on our starts. And I know we’ve spoken about this before because sometimes you it turns out it’s not strategy on your part to get stars. Sometimes



I would never recommend something at the start just to get a bad start. I mean, that makes just makes your life that much harder.


Chris Case  1:33:43

So how do we how do you work on starting fast starting well, or maybe not even starting fast but starting the way you want to so you don’t get swarmed. But you also don’t overdo it and use so much energy just to get to the front too quickly or sit out there in the wind by yourself.



Yeah, so I do it both ways. Like I practice just the technique, part of hitting my pedal and the right gear. And as people have watched me race over the years, sometimes I get it right. And a lot of times I don’t, but I really do practice it. So and I do that at every stoplight whether that’s a cross bike, my mountain bike, my road bike, I try to practice that start almost each time. And that doesn’t mean I’m doing a max effort up off the line, but I’m doing it quickly enough where the technique will be the same. So I’m always trying to practice that just to kind of train the body to know how to do it. After that, I’ll do start intervals and I’ll have my athletes do start intervals that are different where sometimes I do maybe the first 20 to 30 seconds at the max off the line and then you sit down and you kind of fall into lt or sometimes I’ll do more of like an lt type start and then a sprint afterwards like so finished with vo to kind of do it both ways you’re working technique. You’re doing a max effort off the line. You’re doing more of like an 85% effort offline. Working it both ways so that way depending on the start, if it’s an easy race, you don’t need to do a full gas start you know if but if it’s a really hard race like a World Cup or nationals, you know, you have to get it really fast or off the line. So working on that part of it, where you’re drilling it for the first 30 seconds, maybe 45 seconds and then you can relax a bit. It’s good to work on all of it. And honestly, I think I had my best start to I used to do kill off it’s on the track. Just because it’s easy one you know, one minute, like 115 112 type effort for gas as hard as you can go. And you can only do I think I used to do three qq offer to not plenty because they hurt so badly. Yeah. Yeah, I used for separate ever. But that that when I did that on the track, that’s when I had my best start. And I haven’t done that for a while and part of its I don’t do the track as much, but it’s definitely managed to get started. If you can do like even a one minute flat out, you can definitely develop your start effort for the better.



Let’s get back to the show. And what we do every episode are one minute takeaways.


Trevor Connor  1:36:08

We’re gonna put each of you on the clock. That’s a five minute timer, unfortunately,





Trevor Connor  1:36:12

So you get one minute each. And it’s basically take what you think is the most salient point or the summary of this episode. And put in a minute. I like this because then you can just skip to the end. like reading the end of the book. Yes. for school, right?


Grant Hollicky  1:36:30

This is this is what Max is good at reading the end of the book.


Trevor Connor  1:36:34

He wants to go first. I



don’t I don’t want to go. Okay,



I’ll go for it.


Chris Case  1:36:38

actually got the timer out and he’s gonna hit play.


Trevor Connor  1:36:41

All right. You’ve got one minute 321 go.


Grant Hollicky  1:36:46

I think the the thing that we’re really talking about a lot with this episode is the cross is unique. It’s different and the training required for it is different. The preparation of our board is different.



Next time Next what


Grant Hollicky  1:37:02

I don’t even know where to go from there. That was good.



I was listening to comedians in cars getting coffee last night and inspired me not listening


Chris Case  1:37:10

to it or watching watching Okay,



it inspired me not to miss opportunities to make to interrupt jokes.


Chris Case  1:37:17

Honestly, I feel like you missed quite a number of opportunities in this episode. You pull you pull back you



posted. Oh, you execute max. chance.



I don’t know. Last night were you free on Monday?



Cool Bell news






I checked last


Chris Case  1:37:38

you don’t work on material though. You’re just the seat of the



pail if anyone this could be a shameless plug to the Shammi a What do you think the max the max is crossbar one take only very famous for one year in Boulder. always wanna take never let people redo it? No scripted.


Grant Hollicky  1:37:54

Yeah, it was good. There. There wasn’t good. It was. It was fun. It was a phenomenal piece of media.


Chris Case  1:38:02

Yeah. Okay. Are we talking about social media content for hashtag content? Yeah, hashtag con hashtag influencer.



Just please splice some of those in somewhere.


Trevor Connor  1:38:13

Oh, it’s all going in grant. All right. I want to try to try


Grant Hollicky  1:38:18

it again. All right. So I think what what we really boil this down to is that cyclocross is a unique experience in and of itself, how we train for it, how we prepare for it, and then even out as you how you go out and execute your racing strategy. So the specifics of the demand from a training perspective, from a physiological perspective, but also from a skill set, and from a mental perspective, there, there’s great opportunities to go out with friends and really develop and develop that camaraderie that exists on the bike. And I think that that camaraderie is a major major piece of the cyclocross community and should give it a try.


Trevor Connor  1:38:57

Fantastic. Okay, so we’re gonna put max on the clock here, but we got a couple rules. We’re adding grant, you get to try to distract me that we are not stopping the timer.



All right. All right. Absolutely. Okay,


Trevor Connor  1:39:11




go go.



I think that grant, your microphone is falling over.


Grant Hollicky  1:39:15

That’s my first way. You’re already 15 seconds in.



It’s been six, seven seconds



to say anything. Because there’s



my takeaway is that I think, training with your friends, using off the bike skills and using every opportunity you can to develop the skills that we’re seeing during cyclocross races and been wiping up buddy hopping up curves



and riding with your friends and falling down,



falling down and like jumping over barriers and yon Oh, when you crash really hard and learning


Grant Hollicky  1:39:44

to insult your friends? Yeah.



And tell your friends



is about having fun. It’s about heckling people. It’s about drinking beers. It’s about not too



much, not too much haggling. And


Grant Hollicky  1:39:54

if you’re not 21, right, Eric and Denzel. It’s not about drinking, or Eric and Denzel is not about drinking beer.



No matter what Grant has got nine seconds. Well, I’ve got nine seconds left to keep talking.



Just don’t stop and time.





Trevor Connor  1:40:14

Okay, go next. How do I fall like that?


Chris Case  1:40:17

I can go next if you want.


Trevor Connor  1:40:19

Oh no, we don’t want



to say I only took 40 seconds.


Trevor Connor  1:40:25

But my one minute is I want to find out what time you guys are going for these rides. Just I want to come early on Tuesday, I won’t be able to keep up with you. I’m just gonna sit on the sidelines and listen and laugh.


Grant Hollicky  1:40:38

I think that’s fun. It’s It’s pretty. It’s pretty special. Honestly,


Trevor Connor  1:40:42

there could be a documentary and that’s, you know, that’s probably my take home as the roadie here who has done I think three cross races in my life. One of them was a UCI race where I kid you not I was dropped before I cross the start line. Nice. Well, it was horrifically embarrassing. But my take home is we can be really serious as roadies, and I guess throwing in some cross races. Having a little more fun. We’ll learn some skills is a great way to finish out the season and I’ll leave mine there,



Chris, but not riding a road bike on the dirt. Good way


Trevor Connor  1:41:20

to break your road. Do that they are all the same damn thing. This breaks.


Chris Case  1:41:30

I’m actually surprised how little I spoke in this episode. Yeah, given the fact that I’ve essentially given up on all other disciplines, because I dabble I dabble in the our record here. I do dirty Kansas there, you know, easy stuff like that. But then what I truly focus on sometimes the cyclocross, but I didn’t speak that much. I think that the keys to cyclocross the things that people should take away from this episode or that honestly, in my opinion, it’s just this is just my opinion. It’s the most fun you can have on a bike. It’s a condensed version of all the great things about all the other cycling disciplines rolled into one It takes a lot I mean, you can do it on any kind of bike. Literally, you could you can bring your mountain bike out there. dabble in it. They’re all the same. I’m no



winner winner, Max chance.



I wasn’t timing but that felt like a while. You haven’t been talking to you for 30 seconds.


Trevor Connor  1:42:38

I watch Krishna and across race he takes a long time. He has



asked me late in a race many a time.


Grant Hollicky  1:42:45

Yes, it takes he definitely takes his time. You’re like no one’s gonna pass me now. We’re 45 minutes.



Goes k still racing?



Wasn’t the Masters 5255 three hours ago.



Oh, nice. Make him that makes him older than me.


Grant Hollicky  1:43:00

I love that. We just made Chris older than me. This is fantastic. I’m done.


Chris Case  1:43:07

cross this fun. Goodbye. Cross is fun. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Google Play Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. Become a fan of Fast Talk on slash velonews and on slash velonews. Fast dock is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching your thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for grant hockey max jets, Elena will Katie Compton and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.