I'm making the leap into cross racing, and have a couple questions that maybe I can get some useful input on.
Seems everyone always has questions about sizing and there seems to be no consensus between the two general approaches I've found. Those being "ride the same size as your road bike with higher bars", and "go a cm or two smaller than your road frame".
I searched through the sizing threads but don't recall an answer to my specific question, that being, what should I be looking for when test-riding a cross bike?
I'm 6' w/ a 32" inseam and ride a 58 cm Madone, on the road (though a Trek 58 is closer to a typical 56). I'll probably be trying out a 58 and a 56 XO1 today (Assuming they get them in, and built up. They were supposed to be in yesterday.). Are there ride/fit characteristics, specific to cross, that I should be paying extra close attention to?
My inclination is to go with the 58, but I won't make a final decision until I ride them both.
#2 race class:
I'm not a terribly experienced road-racer, and still a Cat V, but have been racing mtn. bikes for quite a few years, and I'm definitely not a beginner rider on either the road or mtn.
Do most people race beginner in their first cross race, or is trial-by-fire preferable, if you've already got plenty of non-cross saddle time?
I'm leaning towards the intermediate class, as racing beginner feels like sandbagging, and nobody likes a sandbagger.
1. Go with the same size as a road. That's what I did anyway... A slightly smaller size is more controllable off road but you risk toe-overlap.
2. Start with the C's and then work your way up pending a podium finish?
Oh The Huge Manatee
definitely start off racing in the C race. If its too easy move up. No one will think you are a sandbagger unless you stay in the C race after winning regularly or something like that.
It's your first cross race, yer a beginner. Really.
You won't be sandbagging, even if you win.
Too many sandbaggers.
I did my first race this weekend and I was in the C's. This sounds bad, but I know I was the strongest cyclist in the C race. I ride with a lot of the guys in that rode A race. I only placed fourth. I was beat by a 12 year old that was training for nationals. I was on a mountain bike but it didn't matter. Cross is unlike anything I've ever done. The running up hills, getting on and off the bike and clipping in and out of pedals killed me. I looked like a bum. I also loved every second off it. I think it is good advice to start in the C's to at least get a feel for it. You can always move up later. It is not like road biking at all to me.
Thanks all, for the advice.
FWIW, I went with the 58.
After riding them both, the 58 just felt right. I felt cramped on the 56.
I did, however, go against everyone's advice to start in the Cs. Mostly because a teammate was racing the elite Women's class, which started right after the Intermediate men. The beginner men were two hours earlier, and I wouldn't have been able to carpool (~2 hr. drive).
I think it turned out to be the right decision anyway, as I manged to finish 5th out of 20 in the intermediate class, after spending most of the race in 3rd place. Two guys passed me when I started to fade on the last 3 laps.
Still can't complain. I don't think that's too bad for my first cross race, and it was FUN.
Now if we could just get some rain, here in SoCal, so I could experience a *real* cross race.
the thing to do is just show up and race
avoid the crashes
in a field of 100 racers, you should fight for holeshot
Well you already got the bike, so I won't say anything more then for most road racers going to cross, I urge them to go with the same reach for starters (TT length + stem length) and adjust as needed. The bike companies sizes their bike differently, so this has been the best starting point for the guys I've gotten into cross.
Keep racing the C's until you get a few races with more then 50 people in the field. Some of the bigger races here in New England have 75-125 racers in a single C field. And trust me, half those guys are better then Cat 4 racers so there's a whole lot of sandbagging going on. Also, there's a lot of touching and potential to get body checked once the funneling starts. It's not just the initial hole shot either. You also need to feel comfortable going shoulder-to-shoulder during the barriers and run-ups. You also need to get good, as in not lose time or position, during the transitions.
Oh, and welcome to the best form of bike racing! It's crack.