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Questions for a newly interested rider.........

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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.

Questions for a newly interested rider.........

Old 06-19-13, 08:20 AM
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Questions for a newly interested rider.........

Hi all,

Got into road biking a bit last year, continue learning/building strength and understanding this year. I would like to continue with the road biking, however....

Cyclocross looks really fun, different, challenging, and a great way to stay in shape in the fall/winter. Here are my questions, and again I'm basically a beginner to both road/xc.

1. Why do you choose cyclocross as your main form of biking (or is it your main form). In other words, why is it so great?

2. If I want to enter some fall races, and I don't really care if I 'win', can I use a mountain bike? If so, the 26 inch wheels only to keep weight down?

Thanks, more later.

Benny
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Old 06-19-13, 09:08 AM
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1. That's one of those "If you have to ask..." deals. When I saw my first youtubes of CX racing, I immediately was drawn to it, it made perfect sense to me, and when I found out there were local races, I threw myself into the fray even though I was scared ****less at the startline with a bunch of "serious" cyclists.

2. Yes you can use a mountain bike. The usual caveat is to take off any bar-end extensions. Schwalbe makes a great 26x1.35 cyclocross tire. You might want to double-check with the race promoter to make sure there are no issues with racing license, etc, but it shouldn't be a problem in the lower categories. (You might have to pay $10 extra for a one-day license.)
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Old 06-19-13, 09:18 AM
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I agree, when I first saw xc, I was like wow that looks cool.

Plus a bunch of local races that are over quick so wifey doesn't get pissed that I'm gone all day.

Mountain biking races are all literally 2 hours from house.

Benny
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Old 06-19-13, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by bennybenny
Mountain biking races are all literally 2 hours from house.
And if you want to do your best, you really ought to know the trail, meaning it's not just the races but the weekends in between, as well. Yup, that's one big reason I don't get too pumped up about mtb racing, even though I love riding trails.
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Old 06-19-13, 09:54 AM
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1. I spend more time doing other things like road rides and commuting, but CX racing is definitely my favorite.

When I started biking, I didn't think I was interested in any kind of racing because it seemed so serious, but one day I was reading a blog entry about a local shop that was renting bikes for CX races. One of the comments said, "Uh oh, there goes my skinny-tires excuse. I guess it's time to bust out the tutu and mud goggles and give this thing a shot." I happened to have a CX bike for commuting, so I decided to give it a try.

At my first race I was so woefully unprepared that everyone else in the beginner field lapped me, including a guy who had a flat tire and rode past me in the last 500 yards. At one point a course volunteer pushed me up a hill. At the end of the 40 minutes, I realized that in spite of everything I had had a great time. I've been hooked ever since.

2. You can definitely use a mountain bike, even with wide tires. Whatever gets you out there....
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Old 06-19-13, 10:57 AM
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Less chance of road rash in a CX race It turns out that grass/sand/mud are excellent surfaces for crashing with minimal damage to you or the bike. Combine that with the relatively low speeds (most of my mishaps have been at or below walking speed) and you have a form of bike racing that, despite all appearances, is probably one of the safest.

As for bikes, MTB are ok as long as you don't have bar ends (don't want to gore other riders). You'll have to carry the bike over barriers repeatedly, so lighter is better. All those fancy suspension bits are pretty much dead weight on the CX course, but they won't stop you from having a good time
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Old 06-19-13, 11:57 AM
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Thanks for your responses, they were exactly what I thought.

Is there a big difference between xc bike vs. mountain once one is passed beginner stage??
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Old 06-19-13, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bennybenny
Is there a big difference between xc bike vs. mountain once one is passed beginner stage??
Assuming you mean CX bike (xc = cross country and generally refers to mountain bikes), I would say there is some difference. At the next level above beginner, you still see guys racing on mountain bikes, but usually they aren't the guys winning the races. We could debate cause and effect there -- even in the lower ranks, you have to be really serious about racing to win, so it may just be that the people who get serious get CX bikes -- but I don't think it's all about image.

A well designed CX course will have a mix of features that favors the properties of a CX bike over a mountain bike, though you'll sometimes find courses that actually favor mountain bikes. I've seen some fast A racers on mountain bikes in certain races, but they were guys that I know also have top notch CX bikes, so I guess they just thought the course was better suited to a mountain bike.

A CX bike will probably be a good bit lighter, and it will be a lot easier to shoulder and carry on run-ups. There are usually fast sections where fat tires and suspension are serious detriments. Beyond that, the differences get into hair-splitting but probably add up: things like better geometry for twisty sections and better aerodynamics for fast sections. The biggest thing is that you look more pro if you have a CX bike.
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Old 06-23-13, 12:49 AM
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1-After watching the video The 9 Ball Diaries with Tim Johnson & Behind The Barriers with Jeremy Powers, I must try it! After seeing a few pro races live, it was on. Hooked ever since. The vibe of the people really makes this sport one to love. Heckling, hand ups and probably the most intense effort you will do makes it a keeper in my book.

2-Most everyone has answered this so I have nothing to add.
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Old 06-23-13, 08:47 AM
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1. Why do you choose cyclocross as your main form of biking (or is it your main form). In other words, why is it so great?

It's not my main form of cycling. I Commute M-F and that get tedious and boring. Pretty much same route, same distracted drivers, same experience every single day. CX is an opportunity for me to bring back some fun and excitement into cycling. Also speeds are low and risk of serious injury as a new racer are low. (Full disclosure, I did beat up my shoulder one Sunday morning when I had a slow speed solo fail in a sand pit. Nothing broken. A prescription from the doc took the swelling down and was racing again the following weekend!)

2. If I want to enter some fall races, and I don't really care if I 'win', can I use a mountain bike? If so, the 26 inch wheels only to keep weight down?

Probably. Depends on rules set by your local race organizers. Here in No. CA had lots of guys on Mtn bikes race in our series. One of my coworkers raced CX for the first time last season too and he raced his old hardtail 26'' mtn bike, rack and all. This year I put those
Schwalbe 26x1.35 cyclocross tires on an old hardtail 26" bike and plan to use it for one of the courses that is more mtn bike oriented and as a back up bike in the pit for other races. The disadvantage of a mtn bike is the weight. One race had a long run-up and guys on heavy 29ers struggled.


Be careful, this cross stuff is addicting. Last year was my first experience with cross and entered 11 races. Most of the races were in the local best six out of eight race series. I kept showing up to every race and mid-season ... even though I sucked ... earned enough pts to start getting called up to the starting line for a better starting position. Still didn't make a difference in the end, but it was fun starting in the front of the pack. This year I'll do our local race series and another race series about 90 miles from the house, near where my kid goes to college. It'll give me a good excuse for more CX fun and then hop over to my kids place to take her out to lunch or something.

Fall is coming and time to work on some skills. Had the CX bike out yesterday for a ride and detoured through a local park for a couple laps through the sand volleyball pit.
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