The US OPEN of CYCLOCROSS is the fastest growing professional cyclocross race in the United States. Last month, Scott Fliegelman, an endurance junkie who trades in his tri bike for his MTB in the off-season, raced the two-day event with significant success both in his finish – and with his use of HOTSHOT. For those who may not know much about the 45-60 minute event, held over a short distance barrier course often considered “muddy hell,” Fliegelman takes us through the obstacles, the training, the muscle cramps and why he’s addicted.
What is Cyclocross exactly?
Cyclocross is a 45-60 minute event held on a relatively short 2-3 kilometer, criterium style course with multiple loops covering grass or dirt roads, sidewalks or pavement. Cyclocross is generally a fall and winter sport, so the elements can impact the fun. You never know what you’re going to get depending on the part of the country you’re in. Two or three times per lap, you are required to dismount your bike, overcome an obstacle and get back on your bike.
Why is Cyclocross a great off-season sport for athletes?
I started off as a runner and mountain biker and caught the triathlon bug in 2000. I have done five IRONMAN races, the Duathlon World championships in France and the XTERRA World Championships in Maui. Cyclocross is the perfect sport for triathletes coming off the racing season and ready for something different. In fact, the event was created over 100 years ago as a way for European bike racers to stay fit until the next road season.
After six months of prep for an IRONMAN race, I’m usually done with the whole “swim, bike, run.” But I’m still fit and want to train and race. I found it really refreshing to have head-to-head competition with fellow Cyclocross racers. Living in Boulder, I have access to one of the main cities of the sport, and have been racing for the past ten years.
Do Cyclocross athletes tend to experience muscle cramps?
They definitely experience a lot of muscle cramping likely from being depleted, or other traditional triggers. The cold weather is a huge factor in causing the muscle to cramp up. It’s the high stress moments from hopping on and off the bike, from non-weight bearing to weight bearing, crashes and obstacles that cause contractions of the muscles. I’ll have sudden moments on the bike that triggers my hamstrings to fully lock up. Of all the racers I know, I have had the most cramps on the course for the last 10 years… I was on the last lap 100 yards from the finish trying to catch a racer and I slid out on the grass but before I came to a stop both of my hamstrings were in full spasm and I had to crawl to the finish line! With HOTSHOT, I haven’t been experiencing any muscle cramps.
You recently raced the US Open Cyclocross event; can you talk about the race and how HOTSHOT was a part of it?
I took a HOTSHOT about 30 minutes before the race, then continued my warm-up routine. There were 50 guys in my race, and I lined up toward the middle of the start grid (based on season rankings). I had a great start and worked my way into the top 10 rather quickly. I had some great battles throughout the 40+ minutes and eventually ended up in 13th place. This was my sixth race of the season and thus far I’ve enjoyed very solid results and looking to have a breakthrough into the top 5 over the second half of the season. Thanks to HOTSHOT, I’ve had zero cramping this season, not even a twinge, and I now have the confidence to “keep my foot on the floor” all the way to the finish of the race!
MORE ON THE HOTSHOT BLOG
Train Smarter: 5 things every triathlete should incorporate into their IRONMAN training plan.
Preventing Cramps at Leadville: Chris Wright did a doubleheader and raced Leadville 100 MTB and 100 Run, managing a PR for both with HOTSHOT helping him push through the final miles. Read his story.
Running Tips: How to taper for race day.