Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Sunny Tampa, Florida
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You're off, but do the duo anyway. You really don't need anything bigger than a 28 for unpaved roads. Ride what you got, a 40 well pumped up will be okay, if a little slower. A cross bike would be about perfect for that, a little overkill maybe, but it's a competitive event, advantage is good.
A duo has some number of miles of cycling and a few miles of running, 10-15 ride and 3.2-5 running seems to be the most popular range. It's sort of a time trial - no drafting and ride/run your own pace. That is a LOT more running than goes into a cross race.
CX is a short course of about 1-2 miles and either 8-10 laps or a specified time plus one lap. It is a bike race except for about 2-4 dismounts a lap and usually no more than 10 - 50 yards each. The pace is screaming fast. Think steeplechase for bicycles, whereas a duo is more like a foot race with bikes.
I haven't done a duo in decades, but I ride on dirt, gravel, shell roads a lot. Get used to it. Practice riding really bloody fast on that sort of surface or the tension from hanging on too tight will kill you on race day. Maybe do intervals on that road or similar - the fatigue and speed will force you to relax and ride it smooth. Mostly, have fun.