I've only raced one season of cross (last year) and it was on my crosscheck set up as a singlespeed. I was moderately successful racing in the C class. Managed to place as high as 3rd in one race. I imagine that it hurts just as much as racing with gears. I've raced singlespeed mt bikes for years so I never really thought about cross racing with gears. Depending on the course, you'll have some disadvantage on pavement. You just have to plan other areas to make up for it. Give it a shot.
I raced one Bandit Cross race on a my old fixed gear conversion Schwinn Super Le Tour with the wheel flipped over (rear hub fixed/free) single speed to single speed. I was geared at 44x16, which I now realize was way too high. My bike was super heavy, too.
I just started getting into bikes and cross..bought a bianchi san jose recently. I'm stoked on it but I feel like I need some different gears. Have been picking stuff up here and there to convert it to a gearie but now maybe I should wait and tough it out some more...
2 Felt F1X's, Surly Steamroller Fixed / Free, 2007 IF Crown Jewel, 2007 IF Planet X Singlespeed
i race ss cross on a steamroller geared 39x17. all i have to say is that it RULES. i have raced both geared and ss and i think i like ss better. no drivetrain issues, nothing bouncing around, and i love passing gearies. i have also done quite well in the c's...several top 10's, a few top 5's and a couple podiums...but never a 1st!
if you are a good runner and smooth on the transitions/barriers that will help. i can gain 2-3 places per lap if i'm in the front group, just by going into the barriers fast and being able to run like a madman on the run-ups. running hills and stairs (with my bike) is a big part of my training.
That sounds pretty fun, I have a Volpe and whenever I take it off road I get issues with the drivetrain. I used to have a Pista, however, that I'd take into the woods on occassion and I never had a problem. The less drivetrain problems the better, especially on shorter courses.