Last year I attended the Parbo/Cameron clinic at Devou Park in Covington. Even a stuck-in-the-mud Masters racer like me can learn something from the big dawgs.
Some of you have those German levers, Joachim Parbo said to a laughing crowd of about 40 participants at the Cincinnati UCI-3 Cyclocross clinic hosted by Danish National Champion Parbo and US favorite Molly Cameron at Covington’s Devou Park. At the time Parbo was instructing racers of all levels on how to successfully dismount and run barriers cleanly and consistently. Poking fun at some racers top of bar brake levers with a smirk he added, the Germans like safety. Seriously, you want to do one thing and then the next thing, he went on. Hands on the hoods, you brake, swing a leg over, dismount, run and remount. You don’t want to try and do everything at once. Parbo preached consistency. When you do things the same way ever single time, you don’t make mistakes. He jumped on his bike and comically illustrated how someone can bobble while trying to change hand positions, brake, dismount and run all at the same time. The Parbo way became crystal clear. Be consistent. Good advice. Even the racers who’ve been doing Cyclocross for years came away with some useable tidbits for this weekend’s UCI-3 races in Cincinnati.
Parbo always dismounts from the hoods. His brake levers are set up moto-style, left controls rear, and right controls front. He picked up his Leopard bike, and even by the looks of it, it was freakishly light. When you dismount with your hands on the hoods, you’re halfway there. Parbo demonstrated that with your hands on the hoods, your body is in a better position to easily slide on and off the saddle. He instructed the group to just walk with their bikes, sliding on and off the saddle. Light bulbs went on above many racers heads. The riders were no longer jumping on the saddle, but smoothly sliding on. Simple but effective advice.
Molly brought up a great point for shorter riders who were having trouble lifting their bikes high enough to keep the wheels from clipping the tops of the barriers. Keep your elbows in, Cameron instructed. With your hand on the top tube, and your elbow in, the saddle of the bike rises past the side of your body higher. Parbo chimed in, telling a shorty junior to try grabbing from the down tube. The barriers got 4 inches shorter after he did that. Also, keeping your elbows in prevents the bike from swinging wildly and consequently risking it being bobbled if hit by another rider.
Late in the clinic, Parbo said, it’s not about who gets to the barriers first or over them faster. It’s about who gets up to 25 miles per hour first after the barriers. The group went silent. You could almost hear the riders think. 25mph? Who is he kidding? That’s why Parbo and Molly are pro and we all can learn a lot.