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  1. #1
    I'm so much cooler online eriksbliss's Avatar
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    Tolerance for Beginners

    So, having posted the SoCal race schedule on a separate thread, I'll concede I haven't raced any of it yet, but want to, and I'll ask for some advice . . .

    I've been riding a cross bike for a year or so, off road, and practicing mounts/dismounts and the like. But I'm not fast. And my skills aren't polished. And nonetheless I'm dying to give this a go. (In fact, even my wife, who loosely tolerates my passion for all sorts of cycling, watched "Transition 2: 'cross the pond" with me and said "Wow, that looks really fun.")

    I don't want to clog up a course where serious racers are hauling ass -- am I better of going for the "Men's 3/4," or the "Masters 35+"? (Some races have a "Men's 4 One-Day License" category, where I assume I should park myself if available.)

    Also, should I generally expect: (a) a triathlon-like experience, where the culture is inclusive and the seasoned racers encourage and cheer the fat, slow newbies who are out there having fun; or (b) a road race-like experience, where lots of stuffy regulars wonder what the hell I'm doing out there, and please don't talk to them?

  2. #2
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    Here I would definitely say the vibe is very friendly and welcoming -- much more so than road. Riders tend to spread out around the course very quickly, so you very well may find yourself riding alone or with a small group...it's not like road where if you are off the back you are essentially out of the race. Also, here they usually run Masters right behind Men's 3/4, so you may well be getting passed by the Masters 10 min into your race anyway. No biggie. Go and have fun and don't worry about it too much.

  3. #3
    4 letter tirade
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    i have really only seen open arms at cross races. It is really just a good time.

    As for ability levels and which one to race in, I am unfamiliar with how master classes work for cyclocross, but if it is like the road races, those guys can be really fast.....maybe the general cat4 category would be best. I dont think you are locked into a decision you make your first time, go out have fun and figure out what works......have fun!

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    cross racing is way more chill then road racing, though I think road racing is pretty chill (except maybe some of those crit specialist meatheads who take the whole thing too seriously ) Anyways, during one race last fall, one guy was dressed up as a sheep. Another gal had cat ears on her helmet. My current race bike is painted up to look like a dairy cow (now if I can only find an udder that won't fall off my BB...) It's pretty chill because if you think about it, it's a hard but goofy sport. Every time I try to explain it, people think I'm sort of stupid...

    But really, do the Men's C/Cat 4 races. Like road racing, the 35+ guys are fast...really fast. In all the races, the field will get strung out pretty quickly so no one will notice your place and nobody will judge you even if they could tell where you stand. Just go your pace - it's way more like a TT then anything else. Some will be really strong, others - like me - will be doing everything we can to not puke (once I actually did puke, but that's a different story.) But the end result is that everyone is cool and they want you to finish. I always say that it's sort of like sex - you don't have to be good at it to have fun. And everyone agrees.

  5. #5
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    ...and if you've ridden your cross bike offroad and practiced mounts/dismounts for a year or so, you'll be faster than you think. Go get 'em!

  6. #6
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    I may never make my way out of Men's C. if I stop riding a singlespeed maybe I stand a chance, but probably still doubtful, but in every race I have done, there has been at least one guy just giving it a go because he bought a cross bike for utilitarian purposes but thought he'd check it out.

    oh and men's masters. way fast. my age will put me in that group in a couple years, but I'm staying where I'm at.

  7. #7
    uberNEWB dzinehaus's Avatar
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    wow, very modest and very welcoming post. I'm in a similar boat just getting into cross. 92degrees and others have been very welcoming and encouraging for newcomers. I found a group of crossers out here in montreal and hope to get together soon with them.

    what has been said in this thread is very uplifting and makes me look forward to my first event also.
    Be Happy, Live Life, Be Strong ~j.michaud / dzinehaus

  8. #8
    road rash/tree burn
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    Yeah, the way I think of it is that 'cross has all the cool people from road season without the folks you didn't enjoy being around. It's a lot of fun. Give it a shot- 'cross courses generally are great for disparate ability levels because they're long and people get strung out quickly.

    'Cross racing subforum- sweet!

  9. #9
    cxmagazine dot com pitboss's Avatar
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    Regarding Masters class race groups: (add-on to bitterken's post)

    Most of these guys are elegant and vicious in their riding style, as a good number of them have been racing for years. Super nice and very helpful off the course, but when the race starts they are off and churning.
    I remember when I stepped out onto the track for a Masters race. I knew I made a mistake by getting in to this category, soI leaned over to the guy next to me and asked if this was a 4/5 race. He said no, I thanked him, and walked off the track until the 4/5s raced.


    If you are just starting out, for sure race the entry class. I know I will be doing just that this year

    oh - and 'cross is great for me since I like to get off the bike and move around. Shouldering your bike during a track race just is not as appealing
    Deathlap - cyclocross, training, beer,...escape hatch

  10. #10
    hehe... member thatguy's Avatar
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    The cross scene has much more in common with the mountain bike race scene here. Smaller groups, organizers have their sh*t together, everyone is having fun and friendly. I still love roadie racing, but I don't know how I got over the intimidation factor at the beginning.

  11. #11
    Tiocfáidh ár Lá jfmckenna's Avatar
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    Cross is my favourite. It was my introduction to bike racing in general and I love every minute of it. It's just pure fun and I have yet to meet any one at a cross race that takes it too seriously. Don't get me wrong the competition is stiff and they are out there to win but it's all in a very friendly environment.

    I did my first race as a B because I thought I was in good shape. I like to tell people that I came in second then as they look all impressed I finish with, "second to last" Then I went back to C's and worked my way up, currently a cat 2. Many days I will race the masters and then the Pro 1/2 race in the same day. Some times the masters is just as fast as the 1/2. Starting off in cat 4 will be the best bet then enter some Masters race to see what it's like. If you have never raced before then you may be surprised how well you do, or maybe not but you will still have a fun time for sure.

  12. #12
    B.C. to D.C.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfmckenna
    If you have never raced before then you may be surprised how well you do, or maybe not but you will still have a fun time for sure.
    Hahaa...for me it was more like I was surprised that I didn't barf. But yeah, it's fun.

  13. #13
    back to the front jhowell's Avatar
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    I raced a couple C races last year and had a blast. I'm really slow, but everyone was very encouraging. I made sure to be aware when I was being lapped so I didn't get in the way, and they always said some kind words. I flatted in my first race - no pit wheels - and someone tossed me a wheel and yelled "Get back out there! Keep going!" Very supportive - everyone is out for a good time. Looking forward to September and DFL Outlaw Cross!
    Free Tibet! Please.

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