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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 10-31-11, 05:30 PM   #1
LindyRides
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Newbie to Cyclocross -- training and prep advice???

Hi,

I've perused the archives for info on buying a cyclocross bike. I've seen the advice on reading Simon Burney's Cyclocross Training and Techniques book and have it on order. Now, I'd like some real-world perspective on the following:

1) How do you really prepare for tackling the first course you ever ride competitively?
2) How much bike do you really want to buy if you have never raced? I have a great road bike for riding distances (Trek Madone 5.2 WSD) but it's no good for cyclocross.
3) Would you go for the disc brakes now that they are legal and if so what do you see as pros and cons of them in cyclocross?
4) What psychological training tips do you have for the newbie?
5) Is this sport different for women than it is for men and if so why? (BTW, I'm not making any assumptions here. I just want to see if any women out there who are into Cyclocross have observations to share that might be woman-specific)

I'm not planning on racing this year, but I'd like to gear up and start getting out there and getting dirty and ride some of the courses -- if that's allowed off race days -- to prepare and figure out how all this works. I'm 50 but spunky, fit and determined so not about to let age be a limiter. I'm realistic enough to know that it's unlikely I'll ever end up a top competitor . . . but I'm competitive enough that I know that if I end up loving the sport I'll end up figuring out who the local leaders are in my category and going for it!

Thanks in advance to anyone who wishes to lend their advice on any or all of the questions I've posed.

Lindy
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Old 10-31-11, 05:31 PM   #2
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Oh, and if anyone reading this is in the PDX metro area, any tips on places to train locally and the process for getting permission (Alpenrose?) would be great too!
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Old 10-31-11, 06:32 PM   #3
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Just cobble together a rig and go out and do it, is my advice.

It's not really feasible to go ride courses except on days of races. Just go to your local park and ride around, get used to riding on grass, dirt, trails, etc.

If you're not used to riding off-road, it might be a bit of a shock at first, but you'll get used to it.
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Old 10-31-11, 07:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LindyRides View Post
1) How do you really prepare for tackling the first course you ever ride competitively?
I really think you should try to get out and do a race this year, just to see what you're getting into. People can tell you what's required, but you'll think they're exaggerating. Do at least one race this year and you'll have a basic idea.

If you want to be competitive next year, talk to a couple of the local teams and see if you can find one you like and they'll help you with training. This page has contact information: http://obra.org/teams If you go to a race, most of the teams that are active in CX have tents setup and would be happy to talk to you.


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Originally Posted by LindyRides View Post
2) How much bike do you really want to buy if you have never raced? I have a great road bike for riding distances (Trek Madone 5.2 WSD) but it's no good for cyclocross.
I think an entry level bike in the $1000 range is plenty good for CX racing. There are also good bargains to be had buying used. For a first race this year, borrow something or try an old mountain bike or whatever gets you out there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LindyRides View Post
3) Would you go for the disc brakes now that they are legal and if so what do you see as pros and cons of them in cyclocross?
Maybe. I'm holding out for hydraulic disc brakes, but mostly because I'm happy with the bikes I have now. Cantilever brakes can be a pain to get just the way you want them. Disc brakes are much easier in many ways.


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Originally Posted by LindyRides View Post
4) What psychological training tips do you have for the newbie?
Again, try it and you'll see. What you need is personal.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LindyRides View Post
5) Is this sport different for women than it is for men and if so why? (BTW, I'm not making any assumptions here. I just want to see if any women out there who are into Cyclocross have observations to share that might be woman-specific)
I don't know. It doesn't look different watching them.


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Originally Posted by LindyRides View Post
Oh, and if anyone reading this is in the PDX metro area, any tips on places to train locally and the process for getting permission (Alpenrose?) would be great too!
Try posting something on the OBRA chat mailing list (http://obra.org/mailing_lists). You'll get lots of helpful replies there.
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Old 10-31-11, 07:17 PM   #5
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Simon Burney's Cyclocross book has physical training exercises,
for strengthening the rider ..
it's in it's 3rd edition, now.

http://velopress.competitor.com/cycling.php?id=247

Last edited by fietsbob; 10-31-11 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 10-31-11, 08:15 PM   #6
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You could always try volunteering at a race. I am thinking about doing that. Not only will you pick up some first hand experience you can sometimes get a free race out of it.
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Old 10-31-11, 08:22 PM   #7
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Good advice . . . keep it coming

Thanks for all the good advice so far. Keep it coming! I've just located a copy of the SB book and they have it on hold for me so I'll have reading material on the jet plane later this week Excited to explore this more! ~ Lindy
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Old 11-01-11, 05:53 AM   #8
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For fitness, start here: http://www.cxmagazine.com/training-f...michael-birner Then continue through the series. I'm working with this now with good results. First season and I've broken into the top 50%. CX Mag is a great resource for newbs, and there is a writer who can give you great advice about the women's races.

Go to a race and watch. Pay close attention to the riders and walk the course to see what it's really like. Ask anyone there if you have questions about what's going on. I thought that I was training appropriately for my first race, but changed specific training styles afterward to reflect what you really do in a race.

Find and go to a skills clinic. These are typically in August, but several happen in September too. Look on Bikereg.com for more info in your area. They will teach specific skills that you need and are a great start of the season.

If you want to do training beforehand though, setup some cones on a hillside and zigzag back and forth along the hill, then go up and down the hill. Practice your off-camber turns. Mounts and dismounts too, but I've found the turns are more important.

Phychologically, dig deep into your twisted soul and find something that will keep you going at your most desperate time when you think you can't take another step or turn the cranks one more revolution. You'll find this useful on lap 3 of 4.

The last piece of advice is to have fun. If it's not fun, you need to take a break or do something else. Train hard and push yourself, but don't take this sport seriously. You and I will never get rich doing it and it won't save a life or anything. It's simply twisted fun. Enjoy!
Now go ride.
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Old 11-01-11, 06:03 AM   #9
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[QUOTE=Andy_K;13436670]I really think you should try to get out and do a race this year, just to see what you're getting into. People can tell you what's required, but you'll think they're exaggerating. Do at least one race this year and you'll have a basic idea.
...
[QUOTE]

I'll second what AndyK said - just go out and do it. I was planning to wait until I got in better shape next year, but then I figured I'd just go for it and see what happened. I have a better motivator for training now, still losing weight, and I've met some more fun (and somewhat deranged ) people to ride with.
I guess it would depend on your local club about pre-riding the course on race day; My son has been pre-riding with me but hasn't entered a race yet, but it's a very laid back race format.
My first race I was kind of apprehensive, and the guy parked next to me (Cat 2 rider) just told me to reg immediately and get it over with. Glad I followed his advice!
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Old 11-01-11, 06:19 AM   #10
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Just go race. You won't learn anything by watching...you have to just grit your teeth and dive right in. It doesn't matter how fit or trained you are, just go out and have fun. You'll be hooked, trust me.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:56 AM   #11
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Woman, new to CX here (3 races under my belt). Just get out there and do it. This season if you can. Don't worry about keeping up with the pack (I still can't in Women Cat4). Just go out and have fun and see what it's like.

My number 1 "I wish I knew" was: Sprint interval training. Cardio fitness. Get on it. Even if you ride your bike a lot (I commute 20miles round trip every day, and push myself to go fast), it's not the same as racing. I was all worried about barrier technique and off-camber turns and yeah that helps, but if you care at all about where you place and can't keep up with everyone else, barriers etc don't mean jack.

Don't psyche yourself out of it by overpreparing. I know the feeling, I do it all the time. But really this is a sport that you can just get out there and do it.
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