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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 11-22-08, 06:38 PM   #1
SunFlower
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dreading my first race

my first cyclocross race is dec 14th. its going to be my first bike race EVER. i have been training hard for it and realized i am out of shape, badly. i know i can complete the race but i know its going to hurt. i am also going to get creamed by most, if not all of the other racers.
i have been riding my bike for about two years now, averaging maybe 20 miles a MONTH. in the last 3 months i have been doing rides of about 20-35 miles but at a slow comfortable pace. the last month i have been trying to do some max effort type stuff and i seriously suffer.
this high intensity stuff is HARD. i just hope i dont puke or pass out. AHHHHHHH
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Old 11-22-08, 06:59 PM   #2
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i've been doing this for years and i still get my ass handed to me in every race i enter.

and to that i say "so what?"

i don't race cross to win, i race cross because i think it's fun. yeah, it hurts. yeah, i spend the entire race thinking about how easy it is to ride up to the nearest official, tell them i quit, and never pay 20 bucks to put myself through that again. but as soon as i cross the finish line i can't wait for the next opportunity to throw away 20 dollars.

fact of the matter is there are a select few people around here that win every week. take our cat 3s, for instance. of the 10 races we've had so far this season one guy has won 7 of them. he has the series locked up, with more than double the points of the guy in 2nd, yet he's still racing 3s. in the 4s, there are a few more people on the top step of the podium, but it's generally the same small group. in fact, we've had more diversity in the 1/2s races than we've had in any other, which is kind of ridiculous when you consider how small their fields are in comparison to the 4s.

the moral of all that is this, i guess: do it because you like it. chances are you won't do well, and there's only two things you can do about it: 1) ride more and train better than the guys that are winning, or 2) accept it and just go out there to have a good time.
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Old 11-22-08, 07:47 PM   #3
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just go do it. go and have fun. yes it will hurt but that is part of the game.
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Old 11-22-08, 07:57 PM   #4
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I've been racing for a year too and get my butt creamed every time just like fore. Here in so cal today we just had our first collegiate cross race. I've done about 11 road races but today was my first cross race. I ended up racing on a borrowed bike with platform pedals (I don't have mtb shoes or pedals).

It was really hard but at the same time really fun but the whole time I felt totally exhausted. Yeah expect pain lol. Also the one thing I wish I had done was carry a water bottle in my jersey pocket. I know you can't really have one on your bike because it will bounce out. But after about 25 minutes most of the people started getting really dehydrated.

Either way just go and have fun. Don't race to win but race to do your best.
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Old 11-22-08, 08:03 PM   #5
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Also the one thing I wish I had done was carry a water bottle in my jersey pocket. I know you can't really have one on your bike because it will bounce out. But after about 25 minutes most of the people started getting really dehydrated.

lol wut ?


no one drinks during a cross race, ever. you just hammer for 1 hour. drink your final sips just before the start

if you are sick or have a special diet for some physical reason, well maybe. but you don't need to drink
for sub 1 hour max efforts (actually I bet 45 minutes for you) if you already warmed up for an hour on the trainer and have been drinking sports drinks during that warmup.
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Old 11-22-08, 08:18 PM   #6
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The 'first timer' races in my area are all 30 minutes I believe.... I figure I'll survive 30 minutes in Jan. when I'm planning to try it. Going to spectate at one tomorrow, gonna be cold cold morning.
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Old 11-22-08, 08:34 PM   #7
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I'll be participating in my first race tomorrow, and I fully expect to get my proverbial backside handed to me. I'm also dead set on finishing, and since I have a bit of a masochistic streak, the pain thing really doesn't bug me.

I figure that if you go out and hit some singletrack, run it like an animal and go full bore the entire time, you get an approximation of how you'll feel during part of a race. At the very least, it's fun.
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Old 11-22-08, 09:04 PM   #8
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lol wut ?


no one drinks during a cross race, ever. you just hammer for 1 hour. drink your final sips just before the start

if you are sick or have a special diet for some physical reason, well maybe. but you don't need to drink
for sub 1 hour max efforts (actually I bet 45 minutes for you) if you already warmed up for an hour on the trainer and have been drinking sports drinks during that warmup.
Oh well I obviously did it wrong then, but then again like I said it was my first race. It was 40 minutes long btw. I just figured about the drinking because I SWEAR I saw a few guys with water bottles hanging out of their jerseys. I just assumed it was for them to drink during the race.

Either way I stand corrected. So yeah don't take my advice because I obviously don't know what I'm talking about.
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Old 11-22-08, 09:09 PM   #9
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I have seen plenty of guys drinking during a cross race. small amounts. i plan on putting a 3-4 oz bottle in my jersey for some sipping during the race
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Old 11-22-08, 09:33 PM   #10
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I've done two races--in the first, I was absolute last and in the second I beat two riders out of 79.

My second race was even more fun than the first. Tearing through mud and water and easing through the slippery technical sections was incredible--the course they laid out was like it was out of some dream I had when I was seven years old on my dirtbike. The crowd was great too--screaming support and loving the effort!

I wiped hard coming through part one of the tight turns--hit the brakes when I started fishtailing and flew over the handlebars onto my chest, basically. It knocked the wind out of me and shook my brain a bit, but other than that I was fine--the wet ground was nice and soft.

Running and riding through the deep mud, wiping out like that, and cranking until I was maxed out far outshadowed how badly I placed. Like people keep saying, just get out and do it! Tweak performance and gear aspects as you go--that's just one part of the fun of it. You'll be able to finish--just enjoy it!
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Old 11-22-08, 09:37 PM   #11
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If you have time to take your bottle out of your jersey pocket and take a drink, you aren't going hard enough.

I do hour long races and don't drink. heck, even in hour long crits where I do have a bottle and cage I rarely drink
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Old 11-22-08, 10:02 PM   #12
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I've done three races. I finished 9th of 10 (with one person out with a mechanical). Then I finished 25th of 36. Then I finished 109th of 126. I think I'm getting better, but it really doesn't matter. I'm doing this just because I like to ride in the mud.

Be sure to check out the "Tips for Newbies" thread in the CX Racing sub-forum.
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Old 11-23-08, 12:31 AM   #13
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Oh well I obviously did it wrong then, but then again like I said it was my first race. It was 40 minutes long btw. I just figured about the drinking because I SWEAR I saw a few guys with water bottles hanging out of their jerseys. I just assumed it was for them to drink during the race.

Either way I stand corrected. So yeah don't take my advice because I obviously don't know what I'm talking about.
Actually, there were guys with water bottles during some of the races today (the UC Irvine one, right). SoCal doesn't quite have standard cross weather, we've only had one race that was close to muddy this year. Water handups were common earlier in the season more so than carrying a bottle though.
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Old 11-23-08, 01:10 AM   #14
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well yes there are no hard and fast rules in CX about water. but I have never seen anyone
do it. not the freds, not the pros. it isn't that much suffering you need water. it is done and over before you will lose power to win. all water drinking will do is impede performance, CX is so high level your stomach is not going to digest anything.
if it is hot you guzzle water while standing in line and throw the bottle away before the gun goes off, that's how everyone usually does it.

on lower intensity longer duration water or sports beverage is a must. CX...just slows you down
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Old 11-23-08, 07:53 AM   #15
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but I have never seen anyone do it. not the freds, not the pros.
Todd Wells carried a bottle and cage on his bike during the Boulder Cup this year. I believe he may have won, as well.
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Old 11-23-08, 08:22 AM   #16
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I would expect the good riders to be more likely to be able to drink than anyone else, because the rest of us are busy worrying about things like, "Can I puke here without losing too much of my momentum?"
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Old 11-23-08, 11:56 AM   #17
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Actually, there were guys with water bottles during some of the races today (the UC Irvine one, right). SoCal doesn't quite have standard cross weather, we've only had one race that was close to muddy this year. Water handups were common earlier in the season more so than carrying a bottle though.
Yeah that was the race.
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Old 11-23-08, 01:13 PM   #18
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My last race is was 80 degrees and the sun was low with clear skies and that = brutal. I got more dehydrated quicker than when I'd be riding during the summer in 90 degrees, I think because the sun is so low it's blasting every bit of you and not just the top of your head and shoulders. I'm definitely going to bring a little water in my pocket next time if the weather is similar.
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Old 11-24-08, 02:26 PM   #19
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I would expect the good riders to be more likely to be able to drink than anyone else, because the rest of us are busy worrying about things like, "Can I puke here without losing too much of my momentum?"
+1, that is how I feel!!!

If I'd try to drink water during a race my gasping for good air would blow the water all over me or worse yet be sucked into my lungs. Yet, my son was in an A race and had me hand up a bottle at 30 minutes and 45 minutes. He was able to drink half a bottle while riding about 100' on each of the laps.
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Old 11-24-08, 02:35 PM   #20
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I'm strong, and fast and cross still hurts like hell. Just get out there and have fun. You'll get faster every race, but you'll still feel like *****.
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Old 11-24-08, 02:58 PM   #21
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The whole water debate gets thrown around periodically. Kudos to Todd Wells for openly admitting that going all-out for an hour in the heat and high altitude dehydrates you!

In cool/cold weather, I think most people will do fine without water for a 45 minute race. Bit of dry mouth, is all, but no real thirst.

In heat, though, you'd be stupid to tough it out just for the sake of toughing it out. Best strategy, whether you carry it yourself or get handups, is to find that one part of the course where you can take a swig, and do it every lap. Just a quick gulp or two, and maybe a squirt on the back of neck for some evaporative cooling. That intense thirst you get while exerting yourself in hot conditions, is your body telling you something.
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Old 11-25-08, 12:09 AM   #22
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Judging on what you've said, yes you'll struggle and probably get shelled but it doesn't matter.

Take water if you need it, do what you can do and have fun.
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Old 11-25-08, 05:05 PM   #23
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well yes there are no hard and fast rules in CX about water. but I have never seen anyone
do it. not the freds, not the pros.
There were some of the best Pros in the country racing in the cross races in/around Denver and Boulder this year (as usual) i.e. Katie Compton, Georgia Gould, Todd Wells... I dont remember specifically who was doing it, but I know that there were water hand ups during the open races. There were also several people starting with a bottle in their jersey pocket. Its really handy if you dont have support for hand ups.
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