Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: The damp northeast
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Good questions. I'd say cyclo-cross is for you. My answers:
1. Check with the local road clubs and teams. Many of 6them will have racers in the local cyclo-cross scene. You can also contact your state governing body. If they sanction races, they'll know where they are. For know, look at this site.
2. You can get an excellent quality cyclo-cross bike, like the Kona Jake the Snake or the Fuji Cross for about $1,000. These are raceable, equipped with Shimano 105, and probably the best value in bikes.
3. Races are measured by time rather than distance because of the changeable course conditions during cyclo-cross season. A pro-elite-senior race lasts one houe plus a lap, while juniors and vets typically race for 45 minutes plus a lap. The races are done over a short circuit of 2-3 miles, and dpending on course conditions and circuit length, that can mean seven to ten laps. On a hard, dry circuit, races can average 20-5 mph, on a damp, soft circuit, you will see averages aound 15 mph.
4. Races are mass starts. There's usually a savage battle to get to the front and stay with the front group. The rest of the race is basically a sprint. My HR profile usually has me going to 98% at the start, and staying around 94% for the rest of the race.
5. There is no single Web site. Check the site I gave you above. Collectively, they can give you a lot of information. And you aren't annoying at all. Welcome to the best sport in the world.
Cyclo-cross is the most intense form of bike racing you will ever do. It will test your fitness and your ability to suffer to the extreme. You will be on oxygen debt from the second lap on and you will want to die. But it's amazing fun. I love the sport.