The Coast News Group

Cyclocross takes off at El Corazon Park

OCEANSIDE — A day of mastering steep climbs, descents and corners took place at El Corazon Park’s cyclocross course earlier this month.

A Nov. 11 clinic by Source Endurance drew about 20 participants to the newly built cyclocross course near the park soccer fields.

Cyclocross is described as the steeplechase of cycling. It challenges riders to maneuver over obstacles and up hills on off-road terrain, then race on pavement. The steepness of the off-road climbs demand cyclists carry their bikes for part of the race.

“It’s two surfaces, a mixture of pavement and sand, and involves getting off your bike and running, and in some cases getting very dirty,” Joseph Schmalz, professional cyclist and Source Endurance instructor and brand ambassador, said.

Adam Mills, Source Endurance owner, and Schmalz taught the clinic. Participants ranged from age 7 to 60, and included beginners and cyclocross competitors.

“It was a whole age range and all abilities,” Schmalz said. ‘A little kid who had never done cyclocross before, and a gentleman who won a cyclocross race last weekend.”

The clinic offered an introduction to cyclocross for novices and a brush up on techniques for advanced cyclists.

Beginners were taught basic skills of dismounting, remounting, carrying and shouldering the bike, cornering and correct tire pressure.

Instruction began with a verbal description of skills, followed by practice drills and a question and answer session. New skills were introduced slowly. Drills picked up speed as cyclists gained mastery.

Following a lunch break an advanced clinic was taught in the afternoon. Training included advanced cornering, linking turns, advanced dismounts and remounts, passing, defending your position on the course, bike exchanges and race strategy.

The day provided a test run of the course that is still under development.

Schmalz said he was pleased with the turnout for the clinic that was held toward the end of the cyclocross season, which runs from August to January.

Schmalz added he expects double or triple the number of participants at August and September clinics next year.

“There are not many places in San Diego that offer cyclocross,” Schmalz said.

Cyclocross began in Europe as a training method to keep mountain bikers fit during the winter. Due to its origin of being held during cold weather months the races are short. Professional races are an hour long and amateur competitions last between 30 to 45 minutes.

“In a little while you get a good workout,” Schmalz said.

Schmalz is from Lawrence, Kansas, and grew up with the sport. By age 16 he was competing in Europe.

He said a lot of racing success is about confidence, mindset and not being afraid to fail. Endurance is another factor. Courses are usually challenging from beginning to end.

Schmalz also advises cyclists to not take the sport too seriously. “It’s just a bike race, we’re not launching a spaceship,” Schmalz said.

Upcoming cyclocross clinics and races will be posted on Source Endurance Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.