How To Build Cyclo-cross Training Courses & Practice CX Trails


– Okay, so you’re new to cyclocross, and you literally have
zero local resources. There’s no training race, there’s nowhere to ride, you don’t have a friend to go out with, so you need to build it, and how do you build it? Well today’s video is going to tell you about how to build a
cyclocross playground. The tools you need, and
the things to think about when you’re doing it. First up, you want to make sure that you’re picking an area
that isn’t home to someone, meaning like a dog park, where it’s really the
dog owners are out there, they’re enjoying time with their dog, then you’re out on the trail, and you’re running into them all the time. That’s not good for anyone. Like, even like a local swimming hole. People are coming up,
they’re toweling off, they’re on the trail, and then ah, a cyclist rips past them because you’re doing an effort out on your training course. Make sure that you pick a place that’s not super congested, but is close to town that
people don’t generally use. Also, you want to make sure that
you get land use permission. You don’t want to be on private property, cutting things down, creating a track. Don’t do that, that’s
not good for anybody. Gives everyone a bad name. Check with the town,
make sure they’re okay with you tightening things up, using some existing trails, and it should be close to
where everyone’s living. That makes it really, really good and easy for people to be able to get to the training course. Last thing is you want to make sure that the terrain is compelling, right? You don’t want to just
go into an open field. That’s not going to give you a lot. You’re going to have a lot of setup, going to be a lot of course tape. Nah, go into a forest, where there’s going to be natural features that you can use and take advantage of. (light music) So depending on the area,
and the type of terrain, some of the tools that you could use would be a shovel, a rake, loppers, gloves, oh and a bike. When you get to a new training area, you want to make sure that you look around at the terrain. You want to make sure you
know a lay of the land. Imagine it as just a big square, and you’re starting over here, and then you want to make sure that you get over to there, but you want to make a
nice, continuous loop, looking at what the area has to offer. So this area as I look out right now, has this beautiful
sloping downhill section that is going to make a
really nice transition from this side of the course to the other. So make sure that when you
first get to the track, you take a look around, you see what natural features are there, and what you’ve got to work with. So now that you know the area, and you have a general
sense of where you’re going, get your loppers out. It’s time to take down these
just little trees like this. You just want to make sure that things that are going to slap the riders that come out, in the face or in the arms, you want to take those down, because that’s not fun for anyone. You don’t want to look
like you just got out of a bar fight, and you just wanted to go do some cyclocross. You don’t want to have to go home and explain that to
your significant other. And, I’m not talking about going in here like a skitter either. It’s not like you’ve got a chainsaw out, and you take down all kinds of big trees. Don’t do that, that’s not
what I’m talking about. Just little things that are
going to slap your arms, and all that. Rough out the course,
and then you can start to see which features
actually are out there for you to be able to use. Okay, so now we’re going to start talking about technical features on the track, and first up has got to be off cambers. In cyclocross, you’ve
got to have off cambers, and you got to have technical sections, because ideally, if you’re racing, or you’re riding around fast, you’re trying to force a mistake, because it’s not just just going up a hill as hard as you can go. It’s about technical prowess as well. So we’re coming into a section that my friends from the JAM Fund, which is a local nonprofit program that we have here in town have created over the last year, and as you can tell, it
is super, super narrow. You definitely have to get your foot out, maybe even kick a little bit, because it is so treacherous off camber, technical, it is a really good feature, and it’s pretty much any
course around the globe is going to have something like this, and it’s just going to make
you a much better rider. (intense music) Now if you could find some
sand or mud on your course, that would be perfect. These are regular features
in a cyclocross course, because when you’re
going through the sand, obviously it’s super, super technical, and makes it really hard. Mud is the same. These things are always
moving underneath the tires, so it’s never the same, lap to lap. So if you have these features, it makes for a really fun,
super challenging track that the riders that come out
are going to really enjoy. (intense music) Barricades. What are you going to do? You’re in the middle of the woods. I don’t want to get my
hammer and nails out there, with a bunch of two by
fours, lugging stuff in. You don’t need to do that, not at all. Go in the woods, when
you’re out scouting around, find a log like this, drag it out into the middle of the course. Nice open section like this, where riders can bring some speed in, get setup, jump off, run
over two logs in a row. That’s great. When you’re done with them, real simple. They’re out of the way. (intense music) Technical sections are very important, and they’re vast. They can be anything, really, but the thing you don’t want to do is have tons of roots like
this going across the track. Big old rock gardens, with rocks, with pointy sharp heads
all over the place, because cyclocross bikes
aren’t designed for that. They don’t have any suspension. Their tires are generally pretty narrow, and if the riders are doing this, they’re just going to be
getting jolted all around. You really want to do a reroute, if an area has tons and tons
of roots and rocks in it, because like I said, the
bikes aren’t designed for it, and you want to pick the
path of least resistance. You don’t want to go into
something that’s like this, where you’re going to have to take down all kinds of big trees. Look for an area that kind
of seems like it flows, maybe an old deer path or something. That’s going to be your ticket. (light music) Another nice feature to
have out on the course is a wide open area like this, where riders can actually take a break and relax for a second from all the technical features that you’ve included in your course. It’s also a place for the
more experienced riders to be able to lay a lot of power down, and take some time away from their rivals. (scream) Drops. Drops are a feature on a cross course that make it really, really challenging. Probably for your more advanced riders, but when you’re out scouting the course, if you see a nice embankment, and the trail’s going
right above you like this, meh, just take a right,
and send it straight down. It is a really cool feature
to have on your track. (light music) Run ups are a classic feature
on the cyclocross courses. Organizers and race designers love them, because they push the
riders cardiovascularly to the limit, and then
they usually follow it up with a technical section right after, to hopefully force a mistake, and make the race more exciting. For your training course, it’s really, really good
to have an A and a B line. You want to be able to let the riders that are less experienced
go around this section, but for the riders that
are more experienced, you want to push them
to get off their bike, get up the hill, and then it’s nice on a training course at least to be able to have a place for them to remount, so that they’re ready for the next technical section. (intense music) One of the last things that
you need to think about is the rhythm or the flow of the track. How does it go? You’ve checked out all of the sections, you’ve dug them all out, you’ve made all these cool sections. Now you need to string them together, to be able to make the flow of it and the rhythm right. The last thing you want to
do is go down a steep drop, then have a huge run up right after it, then go down another steep drop, and then another run up. That’s not the real flow
of a true cyclocross race. You want to make sure that you
string the sections together with technical stuff, followed
by a nice long stretch, then another technical
section, then a drop, then a barrier. Make sure that it has a nice flow to it. Once you get out there and you ride it, you’ll know what works. (intense music) You also want to be
mindful of the lap time. You don’t riders to be up
there for 10, 12 minutes. Four or five, six minutes, that’s great. A little bit longer than that, it gives riders the
opportunity to spread out. It allows you to add some more features, and as the course gets worked in, if you want to make it
a little bit longer, than you can add a feature here or there, like I showed you earlier in the video. So get your friends, tell the riders that are in your area, “Hey, we’re making a cross course.” Grab those tools, go out there, and make an afternoon of it, and then ride this stuff in. It can be super, super fun. So I hope you liked the video. If you guys tag me in some of
the stuff that you’ve done, I’d love to see your work out there, and what you’re doing. If you liked this video, and you want to give it
a thumbs up, please do. If you want to leave a comment below, please do that as well. If you want to check out
other cyclocross videos, look over here. And if you want to subscribe
to GCN, click right there.

54 thoughts on “How To Build Cyclo-cross Training Courses & Practice CX Trails

  1. nice forest. sadly the UK barely has any. Some still like the landscape here. I think it looks dead and desolate and there is a reason why places like Scotland Iceland and other places look at reforestation, it is after all the natural biome that was once lost

  2. Not sure it’s a great idea to suggest people go and cut vegetation or dig soil in a forest just for setting up a CX training course… maybe it’s fine in the USA, but in most places in Europe, that’s probably forbidden on non private property.

  3. Cool video, you turn the clock back 35 years to when we used to do this in the local woods to make BMX trails 😂

  4. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but ditch the German WWII enlisted mans cap. The video is brilliant and I love ❤️ Jeremy but ditch that bloody hat !!

  5. I hope you all know that the freeride mountainbikers probably left heaps of stuff from the early days. There may already be disused trails in your area from the time before freeride turned into lethal lunacy.

  6. Just about to turn my specialized Diverge into a cyclocross bike, looking forward to hitting the woods during the fall colors

  7. When I saw the video before watching, I thought I hope he talks about getting permission. He talked about that important precondition, first. Very important and probably not that hard to do.

  8. Man, this guy is a very good presenter! So natural and fun! GCN have the most awesome team ever! Miss Emma and Matt, though

  9. cyclo cross has as much appeal for me as Paris – Roubaix. i do not see the point in spending thousands on high end gear and kit to force it into a compromising and dangerous situation. the guys who do those massive jumps in Red Bull make more sense to me. at least they can practice in a safe environment. this stuff is just stupid, like P-R. why bother? you want danger? Commute.

  10. 7:15 I would suggest to cut that branch close to tree base. For while that cut @ 7:15 will be like potentially dangerous spike for someone.
    Anyway, great how-to's!

  11. This would be very hard to do in Belgium, there are lot of place u can ride with your mtb or other bike but most of them u can't mess with trees/ground/…

  12. One additional suggestion: find out who else maintains hiking and cycling trails in the area, get to know them, do some volunteer maintenance work with them, and talk about your plans

  13. Meh, not sure I would advocate digging up soil, moving logs and lopping off branches in a woodland. These precious environments are under enough pressure as it is.

  14. Great video but scares the S*** out of me. Getting PERMISSION is more than just key which glad Jeremy mentions. Had to deal with so many illegal trails getting areas shut down over the years that worry this is an invite for a resurgence of illegal trails or perceived enhancements.
    I don't know about other places but most of Denver's municipalities have START courses in addition to Pump Tracks. The START courses are single track rides with a wide variety of obstacles with each obstacle having three choices (beginner, intermediate, hard) to help adults and their children learn and practice various gravel and mountain bike skills before going into bigger and longer rides. Logs, camber, mud, sand, various jumps, etc are included and free to use!

  15. Would like to see some courses that people make/made.. also, how to cyclo-cross near urban environments? Using parcs, industrial area’s etc…

  16. Step 1 – become a farmer or marry one. Step 2 – bump out the sheep and build dream course. Step 3 – setup local event for the rest of us 😁.

  17. #askgcn can you please make a Chris opie van tour.
    And can you make more vids with Chris and hank
    Love you work guys

  18. Great video, thanks J-Pow! Live on Salisbury Plain in England, perfect mix of gravel, grass, woods, ups, downs, so that's my training ground for the Wessex League!

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