Although courses are often less technical than those of mountain biking, the particular obstacles require specific technical abilities of their competitors. Steps, barriers, ditches, stairs, steep slopes and deep mud or sand require running whilst carrying the bicycle. This approach was invented by Octave Lapize and proven by Eugène Christophe who in 1913 had to carry his broken bike down the Tourmalet during the Tour de France. Although this sounds simple, doing so in the middle of a quick-paced race is difficult. Being able to dismount, pick up the bike, put it back down and remount smoothly and quickly without losing any speed requires practice and skill. However, the best cyclo-cross racers in the world, and some top-level local competitors, make it seem effortless.
When you begin a dismount prior to an extended running section, your hands should be on the tops of your bars, your eyes looking forward, your left pedal down. Remove your right foot from its pedal, then swing you right leg over your rear wheel. Bring your right leg forward, between the frame and your left leg; simultaneously, release the handlebars with your right hand and grab the middle of the down tube. Just as your right foot is about to make contact with the ground, flick your left foot out of the pedal; pick the bike up with your right hand; plant the middle of the top tube on your shoulder; let go of the down tube; and reach under it to grab the left side of the handlebars, near the left shift lever. Remove your left hand from the bars and run like hell.
A dismount for a single lift over an obstacles is a little different. Begin your dismount as before, but when you take your right hand off the bars, grasp the top tube in front of the tip of your saddle. Execute the rest of the dismount, but maintain your grip on the left side of the handlebar and the top tube, then pick up the bike and hurdle the obstacle.
When taking the bike off your shoulder, grab the left-top side of your handlebars with your left hand; move your right hand from the bars and grasp the middle of the down tube; then slide the bike off your shoulder and gently place the wheels on the ground, pointing in the direction you want to go. Take your right hand off the down tube and grasp the right top side of the handlebars. Always looking forward, take a few quick steps and leap off your left foot with just enough height to clear your saddle, landing on the inside of your right thigh and slipping smoothly atop the saddle (it's easier said than done). Quickly find your pedals, flip them over and insert your feet. Normally, when you put your bike back down, the pedals will end up in the same spot each time. Try it! For remounting after a single obstacle, take your right hand off the top tube and put it back onto the bars. Now take a few quick steps and leap off your left foot and slide back onto the saddle. Find your pedals, put your feet back into them and start pedaling.
A more recent development to overcome obstacles such as barriers and sometimes ditches is the bunnyhop, which came to prominence in 1989 when Danny De Bie used it in his successful World Championship run. Bunny hopping has become less popular as a result of race directors seeking to limit its use by setting up two or three barriers in a row. Skilled riders are still able to hop the obstacles, despite the back to back to back barriers. Today Sven Nys, an ex-BMX racer, demonstrates the importance of technical skills as he continues to dominate the sport.