In cycling, the word conjures visions of Lemond in a TT, Pantani attacking a climb, ONCE in Team Time Trial formation, etc. "Form" means position and motion on the bike, anticipation of the course, unseen recognition of teammates and competitors. Beyond this, it means how you live your life and reflect on other people (that last part a bit heavier though than I intended this post to be about).
Here's me in bad form:
Straightish arms, hunched shoulders, jersey zipper is off-center. Basically I'm a form train wreck right here. This is pretty early on in the race also. I'd guess it's before the halfway point.
Now, lets look at the next picture:
Bent arms, flat(ish) back, relaxed shoulders, probably even a centered zipper. Ironically, this is later in the race, when in theory I would be more tired and show less form. What's up with that?
One theory is that I did not warm up thoroughly enough, and the extremely hard first lap start of the race shocked my system and it took a little while to recover from it. Another theory is that I realized someone was taking photos so I made a conscious effort to look better. Not that I'm self conscious or anything...
I do know that with good form I am faster. In the first photo I was hanging on and trading pulls with the guy in front. In the second photo, I had dropped the two guys and was riding faster.
So there. In cyclocross, these issues of form are very important. Unlike the kermesse races, you will actually have to get off of the bike, and back on it while maintaining speed. You will have to adapt quickly to changing lines and ruts in the mud, sand, bark chips, etc. A tense upper body makes this very difficult. As the bike is being bounced around under you, a smooth pedal stroke and loose upper body is key to keeping your forward momentum.
To work on form, lets go out and ride our cyclocross (or road, or mountain) bikes in the grass, dirt, sand, gravel and mud. This can be done at any local park.
I hear some of you have newly acquired cyclocross bikes. Let's go out Thursday evening in SE Portland to practice the basics of dismounts/re-mounts, etc. How about Creston Park at SE 44th and Powell at 6:30 PM? Comment here, or e-mail me (Greg) to confirm.