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.

Equipment survivability

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Old 08-30-12, 12:18 PM
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Banzai
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Equipment survivability

I have a Ritchey Breakaway cross that I use as my travel bike; it can be configured for road racing, trail rides, etc etc. But, I'm pondering doing an actual cyclocross race/event with it in a couple of weeks.

My concern is the equipment. I've seen pics of cross event where I just don't understand how the caked mud doesn't rip off derailers and trash every bearing on the bike. And a friend of mine said that he quit cross after several seasons because the maintenance got too costly and time consuming.

So...how does your equipment fare? My Ritchey is running 105 all around, compact crank. 105 hubs laced to Aeroheads.

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Old 08-30-12, 01:01 PM
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My wife has run Ultegra RD and DA-7800 brifters on her cx bike for the last 2 seasons and all is well. I had ultegra on my former CX bike for 2 seasons and the previous owner for a couple of seasons. This year my bike will be full DA-7900 and I am not too concerned. If you are pretty good at keeping the rubber side down and avoiding others then you should be fine.
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Old 08-30-12, 01:11 PM
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Racing and crashing breaks stuff .. but the proper kit for cross racing is more than one bike .

mud gets hosed off in the pits and the clean one replaces the muddy one ,
in the bike hand off as the course passes the pits, every lap.

stuff breaks , .. then the back up bike gets used.
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Old 08-30-12, 01:20 PM
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Uh oh.

I don't have a backup bike. Well, I do, but it's absolutely not suitable for cross.
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Old 08-30-12, 03:32 PM
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You don't need a second bike. For the very talented, serious racer, yes, it's part of the game. Otherwise, you'll do fine on a single bike. Might want to bring spare wheels.

Yes cross is hard on bikes and parts, but how hard depends on course, rider, conditions, etc.

If you race once or twice a weekend throughout fall and winter, then yes you'll be replacing some stuff, and you'll probably get a little tired of cleaning the bike. (But hell, you'll also get tired of all that driving and racing, too.)
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Old 08-30-12, 04:44 PM
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Guess if you drive to the race,if you break stuff, your commute monday
wont be on the bike, but you can still get to work, in the old cage..

there are single speed race too so maybe bike #2
lets you race in the SS..
and the geared bike races with #1.

worried about damaging the expensive kit?

just get the single speed CX bike.. less to break, and clean.

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Old 08-30-12, 09:05 PM
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In four years of CX racing (~50 races), I've only had one incident that involved major damage, but that one incident took out a rear derailleur, a chain and the drive-side spokes on my rear wheel and the rear derailleur hanger had to be re-aligned (steel frame). You never know when something like that is going to happen, but it doesn't happen all the time.

If you aren't prepared to do your own maintenance, that could add up. Basically, anything with bearings needs to be overhauled at least once a year and maybe more often.
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Old 08-31-12, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by flargle View Post
You don't need a second bike. For the very talented, serious racer, yes, it's part of the game. Otherwise, you'll do fine on a single bike. Might want to bring spare wheels.

Yes cross is hard on bikes and parts, but how hard depends on course, rider, conditions, etc.

If you race once or twice a weekend throughout fall and winter, then yes you'll be replacing some stuff, and you'll probably get a little tired of cleaning the bike. (But hell, you'll also get tired of all that driving and racing, too.)
Seriously, a spare bike is nice I suppose if you are very competitive -but if the bike can't take 4-5 laps in the mud then it probably won't do much better just doing one at a time.

While we don't practice in the mud, when I get home after practice the bike is pretty caked with grass and slop anyhow. So I make it a habit to wash after each practice when I get home. I don't let it sit and dry. If/when I need to rebuild wheel bearings or swap out the BB I'll do it. My race bike is my race bike and I don't use it for anything other than CX practice and some road training to keep familiar with the bike. As for durability of the drivetrain I'm running a tough 8-speed MTB 11-32 cassette and a mid-level MTB rear derailleur. It should hopefully do little better in the thick mud than a road derailleur.
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Old 08-31-12, 07:14 AM
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Ran the stock 5700 on my Felt f75x last season. 8 races - multiple crashes, mud, a wooden stake in the spokes - still going strong and can't wait for this year. Besides post race washing, not much more routine maintenance than my road bike.
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Old 08-31-12, 11:35 AM
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All good stuff to know.

Incidentally, are cyclocross race courses deliberately hosed down to be as muddy as possible? All the race pics I see are typically of riders slogging through mud with nicer terrain on either side.

It's the pics of the drivetrains so caked with mud as to be indistinguishable that worry me for the state of my gear. I do all my own maintenance, but time is always a precious resource. The acquaintance who used to ride cx said that the time commitment involved in getting his bikes back in working order after races is what eventually turned him off. Said it sometimes felt more exhausting than the race itself.
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Old 08-31-12, 11:38 AM
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I used to race motorcycles. I'd probably spend about 20 hrs a week working on my bike between races.

The time required to fully strip and rebuild a simple machine like a CX bicycle couldn't be more than 10hrs max. And I can't imagine it would need full strip/rebuild every week. Maybe 2-3 hours max.

Most Americans spend more time than that watching TV in a typical night.
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Old 08-31-12, 11:42 AM
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Incidentally, are cyclocross race courses deliberately hosed down to be as muddy as possible?
Portland Oregon, nature provides plenty of rainfall .
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Old 08-31-12, 11:52 AM
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It's against the rules to deliberately hose down a course.

I guess I'm just not that fastidious? Even after a very muddy race, for me it's a matter of hosing down the bike, wipe-down with Pedro's Bike Lust, lube the chain, and then check the braking and shifting. 20 minutes or so? Definitely helps to have a repair stand (or equivalent).
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Old 08-31-12, 12:14 PM
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Race singlespeed and you've got far less equipment to worry about damaging. No derailleurs to snag, no shifters to break if you take a spill.
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Old 08-31-12, 12:18 PM
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I agree with flargle. Hose down the bike, lube what needs lubing and fix what needs fixing. Usually nothing needs fixing. The one thing I particularly watch for is how the wheels spin. With a lot of muddy races and a little not so careful washing, it isn't uncommon for the bearings to need re-greasing midway through the season, but I wouldn't do it unless I see a problem.

And, yeah, the mud is all natural.
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Old 09-01-12, 06:39 AM
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One trick is stopping at a coin-op carwash on the way home. Depending on your rack situation, you might not even have to take the bike off the car. Good for pre-washing muddy clothes, too. Just be careful with that water pressure around bearings.
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Old 09-01-12, 08:34 AM
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Thanks for all the advice guys. As an inveterate roadie I'm used to pampering my equipment. Like I said, I do own a CX bike, but it never gets really dirty. It commutes, does fast road rides, travels with me, etc.

But I saw a flyer in the LBS for a cross race on the 14th of Sept...and I started to think that this might be a fun idea. And I was thinking that if I own a CX bike, it might as well - at least once - fulfill its intended purpose.

What the heck. I don't know who I'm kidding...I'll give it a try.
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Old 09-01-12, 08:51 AM
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I would suggest that you look for a local CX race group in your area that holds regular practices that are open to the public and newbies and go to them. At that point you will get a taste of what a CX course looks like, how it feels to ride one, and if it is something you will like doing. Throwing yourself into a race situation without first doing something like that sounds a bit extreme.
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Old 09-01-12, 10:51 AM
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I've never done a CX race...but I've done road races, and a couple of "adventure" races with my Nashbar "X" frame. (Hey! I could race that!). The race in question should be relatively benign...it's pitched towards a broad audience as part of a weekend that also involves a century ride without a road race that has SAG stops every 10 miles for the newbies.

So I figure, why not jump in? I don't have time in my schedule to go hunt down "clinics" between now and then anyway.
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