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View Poll Results: Which is More Friendly - Road or CX?
Road Racing 1 4.76%
Cyclocross Racing 20 95.24%
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Old 10-19-12, 04:43 PM   #1
Carley P.
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CX vs Road Racing - Which is More Friendly?

I'm about to do my first race in around a week, (cyclocross), so I can't answer this question.

I had originally planned on racing road first because you can't get lapped in a road race. I just wanted to get used to racing culture since I've never experienced a race before. Then, after getting accustomed to the racing culture, I had planned on trying what I really wanted to race, cyclocross.

For those of you that have experience, which would you suggest for a beginner? Would you think cyclocross is more beginner-friendly, or road racing? I've heard cyclocross has a more relaxed atmosphere, but in road racing you can't get lapped and don't have as many spectators staring at you.

If you remember your first road or cyclocross race, share your experiences, please.
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Old 10-19-12, 04:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Carley P. View Post
I'm about to do my first race in around a week, (cyclocross), so I can't answer this question.

I had originally planned on racing road first because you can't get lapped in a road race. I just wanted to get used to racing culture since I've never experienced a race before. Then, after getting accustomed to the racing culture, I had planned on trying what I really wanted to race, cyclocross.

For those of you that have experience, which would you suggest for a beginner? Would you think cyclocross is more beginner-friendly, or road racing? I've heard cyclocross has a more relaxed atmosphere, but in road racing you can't get lapped and don't have as many spectators staring at you.

If you remember your first road or cyclocross race, share your experiences, please.
CX is a lot friendlier. I think it's the beer. And the cowbells. Also, when you crash you're a lot less likely to break your bike or body. With that said, I don't think that road racing is unfriendly. But if you want to race CX, then race CX.

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Then, after getting accustomed to the racing culture, I had planned on trying what I really wanted to race, cyclocross.
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Old 10-19-12, 05:31 PM   #3
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I joined the CX scene last year. In my first race I got 90th out of 100. Although it hurt so bad I have never had so much fun while doing it. The fans, cowbells, heckling and hand ups. Just do it!!!

Here is a video of our scene from a couple years ago that describes it perfectly.

https://vimeo.com/9952653
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Old 10-19-12, 09:11 PM   #4
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As the other posters have said, cross racing is way more friendly than road-- especially for newbies. You'll have a ton more fun making your first racing experience a cross race rather than a road race.

Don't get me wrong, road racing is a lot of fun, but it's also way more uptight. Part of this is just in-crowd bs, but there's also a legitimate concern about whether people around you know what they are doing when you're flying down the road at 25 to 35 mph in a tight bunch.

Besides, you're from Louisville? You have the cross World Championships coming up man! Best get in on the cross game now so you know what it's all about when the circus comes to your town.

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Old 10-19-12, 11:08 PM   #5
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You have to wait till spring for the road season to start..
Cross gives you a chance to get into shape before then.

I was lapped by lap 3. 20 years ago, so I confirmed my status as a Cyclo-Tourist.
and packed up my kit and went abroad a few times.

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Old 10-20-12, 09:10 AM   #6
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This is my first season cross racing. I'm finding it very friendly and a ton of fun. Learning a few things too from the more experienced guys. What really surprised me was the intensity of the workout I'm getting in a 30 minutes C race. My first race I finished 8th out of 11 and worked very hard for it. Lots of spectators around the course and all are very encouraging .... Even last week when I did a solo slow speed crash in a sand pit surrounded by a small crowd of onlookers.

And don't worry about getting lapped. I'm three races into the season and have been lapped every time. No one notices or really cares. Just stay out of the way of the guys on the lead.

After your race next week give a report here on your experience. You'll have lots of good stuff to share.
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Old 10-20-12, 11:07 AM   #7
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there's also a legitimate concern about whether people around you know what they are doing when you're flying down the road at 25 to 35 mph in a tight bunch.
This is the reason that I don't race road -- not that I don't trust other people (though I don't) but that I don't trust myself. In 'cross, when you crash (and unless you're going way too slow all the time you will crash) it's usually no big deal. You fall in the mud, pick yourself up and get back on the bike -- no big deal. So everybody is more relaxed.
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Old 10-20-12, 11:48 AM   #8
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yeah, cross is way more fun for everyone: racers and spectators.
It's also short enough that you can do a couple races if you want.
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Old 10-20-12, 01:06 PM   #9
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Whenever I go to a cross race people talk to me and I talk to people. Whenever I go to a Crit race no one talks to me and people yell at each other alot.

I dont race road anymore. Just MTB and cross.

The mood at crit races is like their whole lives are depending on this race and they'll kill anyone who screws it up for them.....and thats just the Cat 5 and 4's, hahaha
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Old 10-20-12, 07:29 PM   #10
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Don't get me wrong, road racing is a lot of fun, but it's also way more uptight. Part of this is just in-crowd bs, but there's also a legitimate concern about whether people around you know what they are doing when you're flying down the road at 25 to 35 mph in a tight bunch.

Besides, you're from Louisville? You have the cross World Championships coming up man! Best get in on the cross game now so you know what it's all about when the circus comes to your town.
You know, I hadn't really considered that about road racing, but now that I think about it that makes sense. Like I said, I'm mainly interested in racing cyclocross so I doubt I'll even race road unless I do it specifically to help myself stay in shape for cross season. Now I'm happy that I chose to race cyclocross instead of thinking a road race would be less stressful for me.

Yea, the race I'm doing is at Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park, the same place where the world championships will be held. I really ride that course around twice a week and it's so quiet and peaceful. It'll be fun to see it packed with people in a few months. I have a feeling our cross scene will grow just because of Worlds, so it's nice that I can start this year and be a true veteran when all of the noobs come out next season.

Do you all see Cyclocross getting a Cat 5 anytime soon? Here in Louisville it seems like even our E and D races have around 80 people at the Category 4 starting line. I'm just going by what I've seen, but I don't see myself finishing in the top 10 of a Cat 4 field anytime soon. Maybe if there was a Cat 5 it would even out the playing field a little more? I'd think people would be less inclined to sandbag if there were 5 categories instead of 4, but maybe I'm wrong. After all, I haven't even raced yet.
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Old 10-21-12, 02:10 AM   #11
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Sandbagging is terribly misunderstood. Out of 90 people in a field only 10 or so really have a chance to win the race, but if you move those 10 up then there will be 10 more out of 80 with a chance. There are no even fields. Are the top 10 guys sandbagging? Probably, but who cares?

Around here we have men's and women's A, B and C groupings with 35+ varieties of each, plus juniors, 50+, 60+, beginners, Clydesdales, singlespeeds and unicycles. The beginner field is reserved for people who are actually new to the sport. The Master C group for the Cross Crusade races typically has around 200 people starting. So, do I think we're getting a 'D' group anytime soon? Probably not.

The biggest issues are the number of races it's feasible to have in a day and the amount of effort we're asking from the judges and officials. At the end of the day, by creating another lower category you'd get another 10 people with a shot at winning the race, but honestly if you aren't in the hunt for the podium in the Cat C race you should probably just accept that winning isn't the reason you're out there and so 185th place is OK as long as you get to fight for it.
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Old 10-22-12, 09:08 AM   #12
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No, they don't need a Cat 5. People just need to upgrade out of 4's after their 1st season. If anything, have a separate Pro/1 or Cat2/3 race to even things out.
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Old 10-22-12, 02:25 PM   #13
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I've never raced on the road, but I've spectated at several crits. There's a lot of yelling and un-called for attitude in my opinion.

I've done 17 cross races now and really can't think of any moment when someone was a jerk to me, even when I did something kinda stupid.

As for the spectators, they are generally more enthusiastic and happy to cheer on/heckle total strangers.
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Old 10-22-12, 03:28 PM   #14
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...even when I did something kinda stupid.
This is a big deal, and I agree that CX racing is like that. Yesterday I tried to take a line that I couldn't manage on an off-camber bit and ended up swerving in front of a guy who thought he was about to make a nice clean pass. I hollered out an apology, and his response was, "Don't worry about it -- it's racing!"
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Old 10-22-12, 04:08 PM   #15
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Ok. I thought of *one* incident where someone in another field moved over on me forcing me towards a curb after I announced I was passing. Since it seemed to be deliberate I was briefly annoyed, but I did the only sensible thing and touched the brakes, then went around him on the other side.
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Old 10-22-12, 08:06 PM   #16
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I've done one CX race and one road crit.

Definitely enjoyed the CX race more, though both were worthwhile experiences. Managed to collect two beer hand-ups during the CX race.
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Old 10-22-12, 08:35 PM   #17
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You all are making me think I made the right decision by racing cyclocross first, even though I haven't had much time to train for it. I'm definitely not looking for a podium spot or even a top-10 finish, I'm just looking to have a good time and not embarass myself too much.

Andy K, I think your thoughts on sandbagging might make sense.

I've watched a few cyclocross races, and I've watched one criterium race, but I've never watched a road race since they're mostly un-watchable. If getting lapped is't that big of a deal in cross than I doubt I would enjoy racing road nearly as much as I'll enjoy myself on Sunday racing cross. At that criterium race I attended, everyone looked very "serious business," as if they were being 100% competetive and 0% fun-seeking. At the cyclocross races I've attended I've seen people who are obviously there for the fun of it.

Plus, I just looked at the weather and it's supposed to rain Friday and thunderstorm Saturday, so I'm probably going to get the full experience of muddy, wet, and dirty cyclocross on Sunday morning.
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Old 10-22-12, 08:51 PM   #18
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The worst thing about CX racing is that after a lap or two, you have no idea what place you're in. This is also the best thing about CX racing.
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Old 10-23-12, 10:12 AM   #19
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^Yup. I finished my race this weekend is an all out sprint to the line with someone who ended up being in a different class. Didn't matter, I beat him by 6 inches and that was all I cared about.
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Old 10-23-12, 03:27 PM   #20
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I like to tell people "There's always someone to race."

There is no "off the back" in cyclocross.
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Old 10-24-12, 10:00 PM   #21
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My first cx race a 55+ masters rider chased me halfway across the course to complain about something I didn't know I did.

Then I had the beautiful experience of getting barred on a Tarmac hairpin by a rider coming back after a flat, he decided he wanted the inside line and sent me into the opposite tape. Nice skill but not sure why he was in a masters beginners race.

Then another guy threatened to fight me because I crashed on a very tricky obstacle and impeded him - he thought I was warming up.

This was in Boulder though, where even your own teammates are so in their zone that they won't acknowledge you on the line - so it doesn't really count.

Other areas are much cooler though

It was my first race and quite an experience. I'm at race 110 now, so it didn't put me off too much.
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Old 10-25-12, 10:34 AM   #22
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I started racing cross in 1990 and it was a very friendly environment. It's grown tremendously in the states since then. I've been pushed, threatened, yelled at and purposely cut off in road cycling and have never seen any such thing in cyclocross, and mountain bike racing for that matter. I really don't know why that is?

But don't worry about getting lapped or people looking at you. Most people are supportive if not all, even the pros when they lap you like you are standing still
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Old 10-26-12, 07:05 AM   #23
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Get dropped in a Cat5 road race = race over, get "dropped" in a CX4 race = keep racing.
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Old 10-29-12, 12:18 PM   #24
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I enjoy racing cross and crits. My first "race" was in CX and it really is a good place to start. The atmosphere is great!

Just set your goals accordingly....try not to be last!
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Old 10-29-12, 03:36 PM   #25
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Sometimes even trying not to be last is beyond the realm of reasonable expectations. I've found even that's OK. In fact, you'll rarely feel more love from the spectators than when you are off the back (yes, it is possible) and still giving it your best effort.

I thought I was in that position this weekend, but it turned out there was another guy even farther back. I hope he had as much fun as I did.
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