I've never really paid attention to cyclocross racing in the past because I'm just not the racing type, but today I was reading a bikeportland entry about a local shop that is going to start renting 'cross bikes, and one of the comments said, "Uh oh, there goes my skinny-tires excuse. I guess it's time to bust out the tutu and mud goggles and give this thing a shot." This piqued my interest. I looked around a bit this evening and it looks like a blast.
Now as it happens I actually have a cyclocross bike, a Kona Jake which I bought for commuting, so I thought maybe I'm in a good position to give this a go. On the other hand, it's a little late to think about any kind of training...
So here are my questions.
1. Have I correctly perceived the nature of the scene?
I'm sure there are a lot of people who take the racing aspect very seriously and don't crack a smile the whole time. I, on the other hand, would be doing this for the sheer fun of riding my bike in the mud. Will there be a bunch of other semi-to-non-competitive people there just having fun?
2. Will I make a fool of myself?
I'm 38 years old, 5'9" and 200 pounds. I'm obviously not in terribly great physical condition, but I do better than the numbers might make it sound. I ride about 100 miles per week commuting, and I've recently completed a century. But, of course, cyclocross is a whole different ballgame. I have no idea what kind of anaerobic fitness I have, but I'm guessing it's not great. I don't mind finishing last, but I do want to finish and I don't want to be crawling when time's up.
If I can find a race that has a Beginner-Clydesdale-Category D-35+ group, I'm in.
3. How badly will I trash my bike doing this?
I've heard some horror stories already. I saw recently that Jenson USA has some older Deore rear derailleurs for under $20. Should I go ahead and place a bulk order? I mentioned that I bought my Jake for commuting. I do have a backup, but the other bike is supposed to be the beater. Will this be worth the damage I could do to the bike?
4. What questions should I be asking?
I'm sure that being a total newbie, I'm focusing on all the wrong things--asking questions that aren't important and overlooking questions that are critical. What don't I know?