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  1. #1
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    Anyone here do cyclocross races?

    There is going to be a local series of cyclocross races and I would like to give it a try but I know very little about it. And I don't have a x bike. I have a Raleigh hybrid that I could strip down and fit with ~ 30mm knobbies. Or I could use my Trek 820 mtb, but it is very heavy.

    So, any old geezers out there ride these races? I am 55 years old. Most of my riding is done on very hilly, rural roads. A typical hill that I ride is .65 miles long with a 7% grade. A few local hills are noticable steeper and I can clean them, but not very quickly. I average at least 10 miles/day throughout the year.

    This Saturday is the first in the series and I thought I would go and watch, then maybe ride the next one. Or maybe I can go early, but be prepared to ride and make up my mind when I see what's going on.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    I did my first cyclo cross race of the season last Saturday. I really enjoy the cross races and the whole experience that comes with it. The racers are more laid back even though the races are much more intense on the riders than road races or crit races. It is also a safe way to add racing to your riding. Some race venues are much like a tailgate party in many ways. People cook out, have a few brews, make little insults as you ride (when I helplessly laid over in the sand pit on Saturday, I can still hear some spectator shout "Bill is down, Bill is down"), ring cow bells and even wear Halloween costumes.

    I have a Trek XO1 cross bike and three different sets of tires to match the terrain and soils we race on. Three years ago I raced my son's full suspension MTB in the 3 races I competed in. The MTB will work OK but will be a hindrance when you need to carry it over barriers, stairs or across a ditch. At last weekend's race the first two place finishers were on 29'ers, in both my race and the expert races, they just rode over the big tree roots and loose dry soils that slowed down the cross bike riders.

    Cross racing is a "sprint finish followed by a time trail". A really good warm up is critical. At the beginning levels there is no pack riding or team tactics. My recommendation is for you to race this week. Waiting a week or two for the next race will allow you to do what? Racing this weekend will introduce you to the 30 minutes of pain and suffering and allow you to find what skills you will need to develop to race better next time. Get to the venue early and be one of the first riders on the course. Most races have the beginner races scheduled first which enables the riders more time on the course. The race I just did had only 15 minutes between races for us to ride on the course, which amounted to one full lap and part of the 2nd.

    While racing you will question yourself as to why you are doing this. It hurts, you are out of breath, you probably have crashed two or three times and you still have 10 minutes of the race left. About 15 minutes after the race you will be looking forward to doing it next week. Thatís OK, itís normal for a cyclo cross racer, just ask the guy next you on the start line. Also, there may be cyclo cross practices in your area during the weekdays, ask around.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  3. #3
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    So, maybe I should strip down my MTB and make it as light as possible and enter the race? i.e. no frame pump, seat bag, rear rack, computer, etc.? I don't imagine people stop to fix flats during these races.

  4. #4
    Legs; OK! Lungs; not! bobthib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy View Post
    So, maybe I should strip down my MTB and make it as light as possible and enter the race? i.e. no frame pump, seat bag, rear rack, computer, etc.? I don't imagine people stop to fix flats during these races.
    Yeah, you don't want to carry ANY extra weight. A MTB is handicap enough. BUT the main objective is to HAVE FUN!!!!

    I envy you. I've watched many a CX race on Youtube and such and it looks like enormous fun. And torture. I think A.Jet does a great job of describing the experience, at least as I would imagine it.

    We don't have very many opportunities for CX down here in SO FLA, and I suspect most of the CX riders that show up are pretty serious riders. I'm not so sure that the crowds and riders would be quite so tolerant of a 60+ old man cluttering up the tracks down here.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy View Post
    So, maybe I should strip down my MTB and make it as light as possible and enter the race? i.e. no frame pump, seat bag, rear rack, computer, etc.? I don't imagine people stop to fix flats during these races.
    Most races are in local parks or public spaces with the course winding all around and moslty visible from one vantage point. The laps take anywhere from 7 to 10 minutes. The lighter the better for the bike since you might also have to carry it and are constantly accelerating after truns and hazzards. Computers are OK, but you might knock it off during a crash. If anything could shake off the bike then leave it in the car. In the upper levels of racing the riders will have "pit wheels or even pit bikes" which they can switch over during the race. I have seen races so muddy that riders would race a couple laps then go to the pits and switch bikes then a pit crew member cleans up the derailers and brakes. Some guys will ride with the lowest tire pressure possible to smooth out the bumps but will then get pinch flats and have to carry or ride the bike to the wheel pit.


    Try googling cyclo cross racing videos to get a feel for the courses and conditions.
    oldschool areodynamic brick

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy View Post
    So, maybe I should strip down my MTB and make it as light as possible and enter the race? i.e. no frame pump, seat bag, rear rack, computer, etc.? I don't imagine people stop to fix flats during these races.
    We have a local CX club that put on MTB races within their programme. This is how I got into MTB racing but that is a different story.

    Within the CX races- there was one rider on an MTB. He did pretty well for such an outcassed bike but a couple of changes he made obviously helped. Rigid forks and he used Project ll's. A knowm fork that works and is lightweight. And Tyres. He used Conti Tyres in 1.5 size. The same as I use as a MUD tyre on the MTB. These narrow tyres bit through the mud to get grip on the hard ground underneath the gloop and they gave enough clearance so the did not clog the frame or the forks. And just face it- although a specific bike would have an advantage- Any lightweight bike that carries 10lbs of mud on the frame is going to be heavy.

    You may not win- in fact you could possible come last but at least you would get the insight as to whether you want to take up the sport. So after seeing what it is like next week- prepare the bike and get your entry in for the next race.
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  7. #7
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sknhgy View Post
    I am 55 years old.

    This Saturday is the first in the series and I thought I would go and watch, then maybe ride the next one.
    First, do you know the age categories in your area? In Georgia (where I live) the older categories are Masters 35+ and Masters 45+. I'm 65 and there's no way I'd attempt racing against riders ~20 years younger than me. I've watched these guy race and the 45+ group would smoke me. But I really enjoy watching the races and cheering on all the riders.

    Second, is your local CX group offering clinics or beginner's training courses? They'll answer all your questions. Sometimes a mini-intro course is offered before the races but you've got to be there really early to participate.

    Read through some of the threads in the Cyclocross forum (http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...?23-Cyclocross) and the Cyclocross Racing forum (http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...locross-Racing). Lots of great info there.

    Good luck and have fun if you decide to go for it.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

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