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What's this cyclocross racing thing, anyway?

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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 : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

What's this cyclocross racing thing, anyway?

Old 08-15-10, 10:40 AM
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What's this cyclocross racing thing, anyway?

I'm very interested in doing a local cyclocross race series, but I have no idea what to expect. Most of my riding experience has been doing triathlons (years ago) and most lately road riding (never have raced a bike outside of tris). I also have some decent experience on a mountain bike. I love the mtb thing, but I very much prefer fast single track riding to the technical stuff. When I stumbled across this cyclocross thing, I thought it might be a fun sport for me (never was interested in mtb racing). I have a pretty light hard tail mtb that I plan to use, fwiw. If I like the sport and feel the need for a cyclocross bike, so be it, but I'm still not sure why they are needed. I guess there must be some long straightaways that favor a quasi road setup?

The race has 2 categories, an open event and one for beginners, masters, etc. I'm 45 and will enter as a masters rider. I think the race is 25 minutes and the website says most riders do a lap in about 4-6 minutes.

Anyway, just not sure what to expect. If anyone has any suggestions, that would be great.

Thanks!
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Old 08-15-10, 12:24 PM
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go and watch one if you are not ready to jump in. I went to two with my 3 year old son and we had fun. I saw enough that this year i'll be hoping to do 3 events or so.
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Old 08-15-10, 12:50 PM
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Search youtube for "superprestige" and I think you'll see why a cross bike, which is essentially a road bike with fatter knobbier tires, is the best tool for the job. A light mountain bike can be quite competitive on certain courses, but almost any cross course favors a cross bike over any other kind.
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Old 08-15-10, 12:51 PM
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Go for it! You may want to go watch one race first to get a feel for it, but then I'd say just jump in and do it. You'll love it!

You'll be fine starting off with the MTB, but if you get in to the sport, you'll probably want a true 'cross bike. Be sure to lock out your suspension if you can so you're not wasting too much energy

Also, perhaps talk to the organizers about entering beginner vs. masters. In some locations, masters races are very fast and competitive!
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Old 08-15-10, 12:52 PM
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P.S. The above post isn't meant to discourage you from taking your mtb to a cross race. That's how a lot of people get started with it. Most people who get really into it end up getting a cross-specific bike at some point.
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Old 08-15-10, 01:11 PM
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I respectfully disagree with the nomad. Just go race. It's crazy fun.

Check out this race report: https://gritandglimmer.com/pedal-unti...tle-at-barlow/

I think it gives a pretty good idea what CX racing is like.

At the risk of exposing myself as a weirdo, let me share part of a story about St. Francis of Assisi:

Brother Leo in great amazement asked him: "Father, I beg you in God's name to tell me where perfect joy is."

And St. Francis replied; "When we come to St. Mary of the Angels, soaked by the rain and frozen by the cold, all soiled with mud and suffering from hunger, and we ring at the gate of the Place and the brother porter comes and says angrily: 'Who are you?' And we say: 'We are two of your brothers.' And he contradicts us, saying: 'You are not telling the truth. Rather you are two rascals who go around deceiving people and stealing what they give to the poor. Go away' And he does not open for us, but makes us stand outside in the snow and rain, cold and hungry, until night falls-then if we endure all those insults and cruel rebuffs patiently, without being troubled and without complaining, and if we reflect humbly and charitably that that porter really knows us and that God makes him speak against us, oh, Brother Leo, write that perfect joy is there!

'And if we continue to knock, and the porter comes out in anger, and drives us away with curses and hard blows like bothersome scoundrels, saying; 'Get away from here, you dirty thieves-go to the hospital! Who do you think you are? You certainly won't eat or sleep here'--and if we bear it patiently and take the insults with joy and love in our hearts, Oh, Brother Leo, write that that is perfect joy!

And if later, suffering intensely from hunger and the painful cold, with night falling, we still knock and call, and crying loudly beg them to open for us and let us come in for the love of God, and he grows still more angry and says: 'Those fellows are bold and shameless ruffians. I'll give them what they deserve.' And he comes out with a knotty club, and grasping us by the cowl throws us onto the ground, rolling us in the mud and snow, and beats us with that club so much that he covers our bodies with wounds--if we endure all those evils and insults and blows with joy and patience, reflecting that we must accept and bear the sufferings of the Blessed Christ patiently for love of Him, oh, Brother Leo, write: that is perfect joy!
St. Francis would have loved cyclocross.

Of course, I don't know how much snow and mud and freezing rain you'll get, so you might not get quite the full cyclocross experience, but maybe the organizers will have someone come out and beat you with a club.
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Old 08-15-10, 01:41 PM
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Just go do it - but I would suggest 3 things.

First, look for video of the race from last year. That always helps me. Around here, www.cxhairs.com (run by BFer Schiek) is a great resource. E.g., https://www.cxhairs.com/2009/12/01/ma...-champs-video/

Second, look for a local training session on cross techniques (mostly getting off the bike, jumping barriers and getting back on quickly).

Third, consider running narrower tires on your mtb. I'm running 30mm Michelin Mud2s, which are pretty common for our soft/muddy ground. Not sure what the comparable mtb tire would be or whether you'd need something different in Austin.
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Old 08-15-10, 02:16 PM
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Thanks for all the responses so far!
Originally Posted by flargle
Search youtube for "superprestige" and I think you'll see why a cross bike, which is essentially a road bike with fatter knobbier tires, is the best tool for the job. A light mountain bike can be quite competitive on certain courses, but almost any cross course favors a cross bike over any other kind.
Thanks - I watched a couple on youtube and I can see why it makes sense so have that setup.

Originally Posted by darrencope
Go for it! You may want to go watch one race first to get a feel for it, but then I'd say just jump in and do it. You'll love it!

You'll be fine starting off with the MTB, but if you get in to the sport, you'll probably want a true 'cross bike. Be sure to lock out your suspension if you can so you're not wasting too much energy

Also, perhaps talk to the organizers about entering beginner vs. masters. In some locations, masters races are very fast and competitive!
I figured I would lock them out, so it's good to know that I should. I was actually considering getting a 'cross bike for other reasons (I am interested in some light/credit card touring but don't want a heavy touring bike and am not sure if I want to use my road bike...), so I would be more than happy to have an even better excuse for another bike.

Originally Posted by flargle
P.S. The above post isn't meant to discourage you from taking your mtb to a cross race. That's how a lot of people get started with it. Most people who get really into it end up getting a cross-specific bike at some point.
I got what you meant, but thanks for the clarification.

Originally Posted by Andy_K
I respectfully disagree with the nomad. Just go race. It's crazy fun.

Check out this race report: https://gritandglimmer.com/pedal-unti...tle-at-barlow/

I think it gives a pretty good idea what CX racing is like.

At the risk of exposing myself as a weirdo, let me share part of a story about St. Francis of Assisi:



St. Francis would have loved cyclocross.

Of course, I don't know how much snow and mud and freezing rain you'll get, so you might not get quite the full cyclocross experience, but maybe the organizers will have someone come out and beat you with a club.
I studied medieval European history in grad school and I'm down with St. Francis. The only thing about him doing cyclocross is that he would have only used an old bike that even the Salvation Army couldn't sell...

Originally Posted by SpongeDad
Just go do it - but I would suggest 3 things.

First, look for video of the race from last year. That always helps me. Around here, www.cxhairs.com (run by BFer Schiek) is a great resource. E.g., https://www.cxhairs.com/2009/12/01/ma...-champs-video/

Second, look for a local training session on cross techniques (mostly getting off the bike, jumping barriers and getting back on quickly).

Third, consider running narrower tires on your mtb. I'm running 30mm Michelin Mud2s, which are pretty common for our soft/muddy ground. Not sure what the comparable mtb tire would be or whether you'd need something different in Austin.
Yep, they have videos from previous years, but they are all pointed at what I presume are the more challenging aspects of the course. As such, I wasn't sure what to expect on the remainder o of the course. I hope that makes sense.

I'll check into some skills sessions, or at least hunt for some on youtube and practice them beforehand.

Thanks for the tip on the tires.
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Old 08-15-10, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
I studied medieval European history in grad school and I'm down with St. Francis. The only thing about him doing cyclocross is that he would have only used an old bike that even the Salvation Army couldn't sell...
Well, I did do a couple of races on this bike last year.



Of course, the lugs would possibly have been too showy for Francis. He'd have probably contented himself with this one.

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Old 08-15-10, 07:52 PM
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He'd be all over that stem, the handlebars and chain ring, but probably too much air in the tires...
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