APEX October Blog – Waterloo Cyclocross Analysis

For the 2017-2018 Cyclocross season we will be presenting a power analysis of EVOL Racing and APEX Coaching athlete Maxx Chance in his big races. Earlier this season, Maxx got a new training tool from Stages, one of their new head units, the Dash. I am personally a big fan of this head unit and we thought we would kick off this series now that he has such a great tool. So, it was off to the second World Cup of the year in Waterloo, Wisconsin to try it out.

Last week in Iowa Maxx had a great start and after staging in the last row he was quickly into the top 40 early on. He kept it going throughout the race and finished a nice 31st battling some strong European riders. Iowa was hot, but Waterloo promised to be even hotter with temps forecasted in the upper 80’s and high humidity. Maxx staged with another last row start but was looking for a second great start in as many weeks.  The Dash was ready to go and so was Maxx.

Up the start straight and into the first corner and then…

You’ll notice in the clip that Maxx thinks quickly and picks up the Dash that was dislodged in the melee. It is much too valuable a tool to lose. In the process of tucking it in the skinsuit, buttons were pushed which led to lost connections and our data was limited to the time up to that traffic jam. What we can take from this though is the aggression with which ‘cross races begin. Look at the peak power in that first 30 sec and the average up the start straight.

The race starts with a 1300+ watt sprint from a standstill and maintains a power above 500 for a full 30 sec before the abrupt stop. This is the key to CX racing, these early huge spikes that spike heart rate and require the ability to recovery very quickly.

In lieu of Maxx’s data I will insert mine. While I am no Maxx Chance (20+ years older, much heavier, though infinitesimally wiser) we raced on a similar course and in similar conditions. This is also from my Stages power meter and through the Dash.

The pink graph lines represent power and the yellow cadence. The spikes in power reach 700+ watts at every peak and the cadence at 90+ with sustained 30 sec efforts at over 450 watts and 90 cadence. The Waterloo course was a test of high speed lose corners and off camber dusty descents with short, punchy climbs. It was unrelenting and consistent. While many cyclocross courses feature a 2-3 min section that is the hardest, the course at the Trek factory was constantly off and on the gas and made repeatable power and fast recovery a must.

Analyzing fitness must be done differently in a CX power file. Simply looking at average watts through the race won’t quite tell the story. I prefer to look at the peaks of power. If those peaks stay consistent during the race, the rider is demonstrating some good fitness for CX. If you notice from the file above, the peaks are consistent, with some of the highest ones near the end of the race. If the rider is struggling at the back end due to fatigue, lack of fitness or conditions, those peaks will start to get lower and will show a downward trend.

As the season goes on we will tell the story of Maxx’s races through the power files. Thanks to Stages and their new Dash, we can a detailed story and teach a thing or two as well.

In addition to being APEX Coaching’s Technical Swim Coach, Grant races cylcocross and coaches many successful cyclocrossers from the amateur to elite professional level. Grant is very involved in the local cyclocross community, as well as local Jr and Elite development teams.