I've been road biking, mountain biking, trials riding and everything, except cyclocross. I'm hoping to get into the sport cheaply, and already have a large amount of parts.
Got a few questions:
1) Is "cyclocross" riding limited to certain "cyclocross tracks", or can you ride general XC singletrack?
2) I have an old Trek 520 steel road frame. I got it for free and have wheels and everything. I hope to run either singlespeed or very few gears. WIll it be feasable on this frame? I dont think it has canti mounts which would be a problem I guess.
3) Any other tips for a begginer?
Cyclocross looks so much fun, so I figure I'd give it a try.
Tiocfáidh ár Lá
Not having canti mounts will be a problem. Maybe there are side pulls for fatter tires, I don't know? Otherwise the 520 would do just fine. You can't take your cross bike on anything too technical but a nice single track will be fine, no roots or rock gardens.
I got into this sport cheap too by converting an old touring bike. I run an 8 speed 12-30 with a single 42T chainring.
Cyclocross was originally developed by/for european road riders who needed a way of staying reasonably fit over the cold/wet winter months. Sanctioned events are typically one hour long and held over a 1-3 mile course, mostly over dirt and grass. There are typically areas were riders need to "bunny-hop" over logs or planks, ride through water/mud, and even dismount and run with their bikes. The routes are typically not as technical as what you might find in mountain bike races/trails. Most cross bikes have a stout frame with 700cx30-35mm knobby tires and cantilever or linear-pull brakes. The bikes are geared for mud/dirt/uphill riding and triple chainrings up front are not uncommon, giving you 27spds to choose from. The sidepull brakes are typically not used because they tend to get clogged with mud much easier than the canti's/linear pulls. Also, a typical road frame is not able to accomodate the wider tires generally used for cyclocross riding. You can use your frame to get started and see how you like riding on dirt, but if you get interested in it you'll need some more specific equipment. Often a touring bike frame can be used for 'cross riding (if suitably equipped), and a cyclocross-specific frame makes a very good touring/commuting/all-around bike as well. Cross-specific frames may be difficult to find at your local bike shop, as they are a specialized item, but often they can order them for you. Be aware that 'cross frames may look similar to typical road racing frames, but the sizing is different due to changes in geometry - see the threads below about 'cross frame sizing!
Thanks, I'm debating whether to sell my road bike and maybe just get a Bianchi Axis. I get those pretty cheap since I am a bianchi dealer and I built one a bit ago and really liked it. My only holdback is that I'm not sure what really qualifies in my area as feasible for riding cyclocross and don't want to spend a lot a money and find out I dont have a lot of riding.
What qualifies for sure are races with courses set up for CX. You should be able to find some races in your area, season is coming up soon.
What generally can be ridden with a CX bike are 4WD or fire roads. There must be some in your area. If there trails/roads that have rough patches or with logs, streams crossing roads, that is just practice for dismount & run.
A Bianchi Axis is a superb choice.