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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 03-28-08, 02:06 PM   #1
aprilstarchild
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Total Newbie!!

I've never even seen a cyclocross race in person, but recently I met someone who races cyclocross, and was fascinated, and since then I've looked at many youtube videos and read a few websites, and now I really really want to try this. My ADD brain loves the idea of a bike race where things are always different and it's more than just "go fast." Cyclocross racers just look like they're having way too much fun, too!

Only problem is, I've never done any kind of bicycle racing at all. I ride my bike to work and back every day, and it's only a couple of miles each way. I don't have a diamond frame bike, I currently ride an old British three-speed and I'm about to start fixing up an older mixte bike.

So, obviously, I have a long-ass way to go before I'd be ready to even attempt to race. (The gentleman I spoke to who did cyclocross told me I should try it with my 3-speed, telling me people would cheer for me just for having the sheer audacity to attempt it. Uhhh....no.)

Buying another bike probably wouldn't happen until this fall at the earliest (and given a chance, I'd just borrow one for one race to see if I like cyclocross enough to spend money on it), and I'm wondering what I can do to start getting ready before I have a proper cyclocross bike. All I can think of, is getting used to riding harder for longer periods of time. I've already started doing that a little--rather than be slow and relaxed about my commute, I push myself more. I want to start taking longer rides, especially on the weekend, and focus more on speed and/or endurance, especially on hills.

Anything else? It seems silly to attempt practicing getting off and on my bike quickly when I don't even have a diamond frame yet. Should I take my mixte on some mountain bike trails? Should I try to practice really sharp turns?

Should I just keep my eye out for used lightweight diamond frame bikes and figure I can change things on the bike to make it more cyclocross appropriate? I'm damn short (5'2") so finding bikes that fit is a hassle no matter how you slice it, and I do *not* have a lot of money to blow.

I don't plan on racing to win...I think I'd be happy just knowing I did it, and having my friends and/or family cheer me on. Then again, you never know. :^)
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Old 03-28-08, 02:35 PM   #2
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Just try it with the old bike. All you'd need are offroad tires (unless you already got some).

From what i can tell, the most important thing to practice is getting off and on the bike quickly.
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Old 03-28-08, 02:51 PM   #3
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Do not attempt this!!!!!!
Cyclocross is more addicting than heroin.
Try it once and you willl sell your soul to buy a race bike. Then you will find other things to sell to buy new wheels and then pit wheels, Oh and you will want tires for all conditions so there goes more money......Then you will find things you want to upgrade.

No cross is a drug and there are no self help groups. (my wife thinks I need an intervention)

On the other hand try it, people will always cheer for the underdog on the different bike.
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Old 03-28-08, 04:12 PM   #4
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Oh man, my old bike (the three-speed) is really heavy. It's a '61 lady's Raleigh--lots of steel everything, including fenders.

If I *really* wanted to make bystanders laugh, I could leave the basket on the front, and the bell...

Heh. My mixte isn't as heavy. Could try that. :^)
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Old 03-28-08, 04:42 PM   #5
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Get an 80s roadbike and throw some CX tires on it.
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Old 03-28-08, 06:39 PM   #6
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Get an 80s roadbike and throw some CX tires on it.
Just make sure the frame has enough clearance for a cross tire....
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Old 04-01-08, 04:35 PM   #7
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Do it on your three-speed and you will be my everliving hero. I did it on my roomie's old mountain bike last fall and it was SO ridiculously fun. I didn't have clipless pedals and shoes on it, crappy Bontrager tires, shifting that hardly worked and non-existent braking. Even after dropping out 3 laps in, I was smiling. Undoubtedly the most difficult thing was scaling a hill with a bike on my shoulder.

If you want to practice stuff, practice quick dismounts, quick mounts and running up crappy slopes with your bike on your shoulder. Ride in the mud - dirt, sand, grass, every kind of mud you can. Also, be prepared for anything if you're going to do a local series - the one I participated in ran through a skate park, over a tabletop, through a mudpit (a bullriding arena), dodging hay bales and around and around and around anything they could make it go around.
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Old 04-03-08, 04:54 PM   #8
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I think you should try it out on your three speed. Personally, I just bought a Kona JTS as an all-around commuter/cyclocross bike and am looking forward to trying out cyclocross for the first time when the season starts in september.

I've run across a book by Simon Burney called "Cyclocross: Training and Technique" and decided to order it online from Amazon. I'll tell you if there's anything useful in there when I get it sometime next week.

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