You’re off the front and feeling fast, but now it’s time to get off your bike and hop over the first set of barriers. Do it smoothly and efficiently and you’ll quickly be back on your bike and flying. But fumble through these critical steps and momentum — not to mention your place at the front — can be quickly lost. So how do you perform a flawless cyclocross dismount? Here are some of the key steps (pun intended), plus three instructional videos that illustrate what the process should look like. But first a look at what not to do:
Practice Makes Perfect: It’s cliché but it’s true (as Joey demonstrated so eloquently): If you want to master the skill of getting off your CX bike, you need to practice. Find a soft pitch of grass and start out at jogging pace — not full gas race speed. Once you start to feel more comfortable with the skill, up your speed.
Get Off On The Left: This keeps the chainrings and derailleur away from your body, which is better for you and your bike. Now with hands on hoods, bring left pedal to 6 o’clock position, unclip your right foot and swing your leg around the bike. Now unclip the left foot and start running beside your bike.
Suitcase Your Bike: If you’ll only be off your bike for a few steps, use the suitcase carrying method. Take your right hand and grab the top tube just in front of your seatpost. Now with left hand still on left hood, you can lift the bike up and over the barrier.
Shoulder Your Bike: For longer run-ups, it’s best to use the shoulder method of carrying your bike. This process starts the same as the suitcase, but instead of lifting your bike off the ground via the top tube, grab the downtube, lift the top tube onto your right shoulder, then feed your right hand and arm through your frame’s main triangle, around the front of the downtube, and grab the left drop of your handle bars. This will keep the bike snug against your body and free your left hand and arm so you can run up — or jump over — the obstacle in front of you.
Keep Momentum: If you are ever unsure whether or not you can ride a section, plan to dismount. If you try to ride that steep muddy hill and lose your momentum, you’ll lose all your speed. This is why it’s critical to pre-ride the course and figure out what the best plan of attack before the race actually starts. You also want to get off as close to the barrier as possible, which aids in keeping momentum. The more time you spend running the slower you’ll go.
This video from cycling coach Kris Westwood does a nice job of breaking down the process step-by-step, and also delves into the remount, which we’ll cover here in more detail soon.
Here Luna Pro Team rider Georgia Gould shows us her method for dismounting success.
The Global Cycling Network’s offering isn’t quite as detailed and misses a few of the nuances, but they did manage to get Belgian cyclocross star Bart Wellens to act as demonstration model so it’s worth a look.
Last but not least, here’s a beautiful look at last year’s World Championships — with plenty of graceful dismounts included.