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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) 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 01-17-08, 08:22 AM   #1
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My Bikual oreantation is Cross-curious

Although I own a couple of decently nice bikes (08 raleigh detour deluxe and an 07 Felt Q720 hardtail mtb) I have never ridden competitively. In fact, i usually ride alone because I don't like to wait on riders slower than me, and I don't like the idea of faster riders being slowed down by waiting on me. I have decided I need some goals for riding in 08 and one of them is to try to ride with others. When I see pictures of the local CX events i think "Wow, a new and different way to hurt myself on a bicycle". I want to train this spring/summer and try to enter a race by this fall.

Being a total n00b, i'm not sure what I need to get started? I am looking at a Schwin Criss-Cross on Craigslist but there is a chance it will be too small for me. Even if i get it, right now it is set up for road riding so I'd need to convert it by removing the kickstand, change the tires, and remove the reflectors.

I know I can't run disc brakes or bar ends, but is there anything else I need to know about how i should or shouldn't set the bike up?

Can I find CX tires for less than $25-70 a piece?

Other than just riding a lot to build stamina and strength, is there any 'training' I can do to prepare for a CX race?

If i can pick up the Schwinn mentioned above for about $50 and put another $50 or so into getting it ready to race, would it offer a considerable advantage, or would I do better just changing to skinnier tires on my Q720 hardtail mountain bike and riding it?

Anything else you'd tell someone who wanted to try their hand a CX for the first time?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-17-08, 08:33 AM   #2
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practice mounts, dismounts, suitcasing (picking the bike up by the top tube) and shouldering. also do some tight cornering on flat and steeply banked grass. it's also highly recommended that you get comfortable riding in a pack before entering your first race. you don't want to be the guy who causes a crash and ruins everybody else's race. shop/group rides are often good for getting your feet wet.

as to buying the schwinn, it really depends on its condition. if it doesn't fit you then no amount of money is going to make it a good bike for you.

i'd say if you've got a mountain bike then give it a shot on that, lots of people do and some are pretty damn fast.
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Old 01-17-08, 09:31 AM   #3
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You may also want to ask around at the LBSs or cycling organizations about 'cross clinics. I know in Toronto there are three that happen on a weekly basis during the cyclocross season. There might be something going on where you live that could help you out in a number of ways.

The thing about racing cross that ties into what you said is that regardless of what pace you ride at, there'll always be someone juuust ahead of you that you can chase down and have a good battle against. Even if you're DFL in your category, you'll probably find yourself scrapping it out w/ the DFL from another category. If you're destroying everyone and leading the race, well then hunt down the next chump you're about to lap. Small circuits and a number of people out there at the same time just means there's always something happening to keep you in your own race.

Last edited by shapelike; 01-17-08 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 01-17-08, 09:54 AM   #4
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Right now is a good time to look for a used cross bike.

You are in a good position to start training for next cross season. Here are my training secrets:
- Go on those group rides with the local roadies. It'll take a ride or two to "find your level", but nothing will push you in the same way.
- Run at least half an hour at least twice a week.
- A month or two before your first race, start going to a spinning class once a week. Come to the workout rested, use a HRM, and really pay attention to hitting those zones.
- A month or two before your first race, stop riding the mtn bike and instead take your cross bike to the trails.
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