Cyclocross requires a lot of smooth climbing power so racers can climb fast while not losing traction when the ground is muddy or loose. PowerCranks can help the user develop this skill. Used by some of the best cyclocross riders in the world including World Champions Niels Albert and Bart Wellens.
Here are some of the suggestions we offer to cyclo-cross racers to help them adapt "easily" and to achieve better early success.
1. Ride in a more open position
Good aerodynamics is a small part of this kind of bike race so many riders tend to ride more "open" but if you are having trouble adapting you may benefit from opening the hip angle even more. The problem, at first, is most users will find it very difficult to consistently raise the legs over top dead center of the pedaling arc, especially while in an agressive position. This is made easier by opening the hip angle. While everyone is different, most will need to start out riding with a much more open hip angle (i.e., to be in an almost upright , "touring", position). Don't worry, after a few days you will be ready to try to assume a more aggressive, race oriented position, and after several months you should be able to return close to your present position, if you so choose. You may find it useful to raise your handlebars and slowly lower them as you adapt. An aggressive position will not increase your speed if it robs you of power you could be receiving from increased pedaling efficiency. Your best position will probably change as you develop your ability more fully.
2. Work on endurance first, stay on the road
It would be very difficult to take your PowerCranks™ into extreme off-road conditions safely. In general, we recommend that off road racers do most of their PowerCranks™ training on the road while using regular cranks off-road. Dont really worry about going off road until PowerCranks™ riding is very comfortable on the road and some reasonable endurance has developed. It would be best if one could start PowerCranks training in the off season as a road cyclist would, so substantial PowerCranks endurance can be developed before one needs to start off road training. During the season, one should try to ride on the PowerCranks immediately before off-road training rides and one should spend well over 50% of your riding time using PowerCranks. Maintaining off-road racing skills while, at the same time, improving pedaling dynamics and efficiency will be a difficult balancing act and improvement may be slower than for other athletes, if you spend too much time off road.
3. Work hard on PowerCranks smoothness to improve technical riding
Smooth pedaling is essential to maintaining traction on steep, technical riding. In lab tests, several pro mountain bikers demonstrated even more pedaling efficiency than elite track riders who can spin at 220 rpm. This is because of the link between a smooth application of pedaling power and technical riding ability. There is nothing that is as effective in creating a smooth application of power to the wheel than PowerCranks. This is one of the major benefits NORBA champion Geoff Kabush commented on when asked about how the PowerCranks benefited him. Most riders are amazed how much it improves their ability to stay on the bike when the going gets vertical. It seems counterintuitive that something you do on the road or on the trainer would improve your technical riding ability, but that is exactly what adapting your legs to the PowerCranks motion can accomplish.
4. Learn to pedal out of the saddle early on.
Mountain bikers tend to spend much more time out of the saddle than readies, due to the mountainous terrain and the need to avoid obstructions. As you become more PowerCranks adept you will find it unnecessary to come out of the saddle as often just to increase power but you should still learn this skill. Therefore, one should develop this PowerCranks skill as soon as possible such that endurance training better simulates races. Most new users are capable of learning this at about 3 weeks into the transition.