Training
Photo: @PinnedGrit/Wil Matthews

Fast Talk podcast, ep. 81: The cyclocross episode with Coach Holicky, Katie Compton, Ellen Noble, and Maxx Chance

In episode 81, we get down and dirty with cyclocross, from training to racing, technical skills to starting fast.

The VeloNews Fast Talk podcast is your source for the best training advice and most compelling insight on what it takes to become a better cyclist. Listen in as VeloNews managing editor Chris Case and our resident physiologist and coach, Trevor Connor, discuss a range of topics, including sport science, training, physiology, technology, nutrition, and more.


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.

All that and I haven’t even mentioned cow bells… let’s make you fast!

Fast Talk is available on all your favorite podcast services, including iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, and Soundcloud. If you enjoy the podcast, please take a moment to rate and comment on iTunes after listening.