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Barrier to Entry? Cyclocross for me?

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Barrier to Entry? Cyclocross for me?

Old 10-26-16, 12:55 PM
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Barrier to Entry? Cyclocross for me?

Forgive me if this has been covered elsewhere in the forums...but how difficult is it to get involved in cyclocross?

I'm fairly certain my commuter would make a reasonable beginning cyclocross bike: 2011 steel chromoly Marin 4 corners. If I put it on a diet to lose panniers/fenders, etc, I think I could get away with just throwing STI shifters and cyclocross tires on it (more than enough clearance). Might be a few pounds heavy, and the tube shape is not ideal....but I don't plan on winning anyway.

More importantly....I stopped by the first cyclocross race in Chicago this year very briefly and saw a race or 2, one of which was a cat 5. It doesn't LOOK that hard....is it possible I could jump into a cat 5 race with no racing experience of any sort and not make a fool of myself?

I commute/ride weekend rides maybe 300 miles/week, planning on getting back into winter riding this year after a long hiatus after child was born. I can keep a decent pace, I've gone on a couple fast paced road bike training rides. I kept up, but decided that serious road riding just is not my cup of tea. The people/atmosphere at the cyclocross race was much more in line with how I view cycling....have fun, push yourself if you feel like it. Not, max spandex, min weight, max pain.

This is a very long winded way (sorry) of asking: can I just show up to a cyclocross race and expect to enjoy myself? Or is cyclocross really just for seriously competitive current road riders.
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Old 10-26-16, 01:39 PM
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pin number on, go have fun. You'll most likely be riding against yourself for the 40 min ... As long as the bike doesn't have bar ends, you're pretty much good to go...

any sport that encourages beer and donut handups has got to be pretty ok, no?
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Old 10-26-16, 01:45 PM
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That was generally the impression I got...if you're sort of fit and can ride a bike, it will be fun. Wasn't sure though lol.
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Old 10-26-16, 01:59 PM
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Definitely take the fenders and rack off. Put some knobbies on, practice some dismounts and remounts, and sign up. It's fun. A lot of serious road racers do cross, but most don't take themselves very seriously. It's definitely a good time. I wish I was able to do more cross racing, but I have two kids playing soccer and it's been tough to find a free fall Saturday. (That, and I gave my SSCX to my son to ride to school, so I need to get a new CX frameset. Oh well....)
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Old 10-26-16, 03:08 PM
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300 miles/week?

You'll do fine. Follow the advice above. It will probably be harder than you anticipate.
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Old 10-26-16, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by 50voltphantom
300 miles/week?

You'll do fine. Follow the advice above. It will probably be harder than you anticipate.
Eek I meant 300/month lol.

I top out at maybe 150/week in the summer
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Old 10-26-16, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman
This is a very long winded way (sorry) of asking: can I just show up to a cyclocross race and expect to enjoy myself?
Yes. There are a substantial number of people in nearly any cyclocross race just trying it out for the heck of it.

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Old 10-27-16, 05:43 AM
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Yes, you should just do it. It would have been easier to do a Wednesday World's/mid-week practice session, but many are ending now because of lack of daylight.

More than likely you'll be going off early in the day. Here are some things to keep in mind to make your first race a memorable one. This is a combination of book knowledge, shared knowledge and personal experience and is in no particular order:

a. Be completely packed and prepared the night before. This way you're not running around the house trying to find something you need instead of on your way to the venue. This also includes knowing where you're going and how to get there.

b. Your race is 35-40 minutes long. Pack like you're going away for a long weekend. Bring 2 of everything. At least. If you get wet, muddy or sweaty on your pre-ride, it's nice to change into something fresh for your race. Bring old towels as well.

c. Bring a piece of carpet or rug. It's great for when you step out of the car with no shoes on and you're parked in a paved or dirt lot.

d. Bring a lawn or camping folding chair. There are times it's better to be sitting outside than in your car.

e. Have a nice breakfast about 3 hours before your race and don't eat anything solid until after your race. I once made the mistake of downing a Vega bar before a race and had "cross gut" the entire 40 minutes. A gel with water is about it.

f. Get to the venue early. I try to grab a spot just before registration and the course opens. This way I'm settled in and ready to get as much pre-ride as possible.

g. Leave yourself enough time to pin your number and get prepared. They start the assembly of your race 10-15 minutes before the actual start time, depending on the size of the field.

h. Make sure you pin your number on the correct side of your jersey, right side up. The officials check and they'll make you redo it if it's wrong. They'll tell you at reg. what side to pin it on and this is so the officials can count your lap times and place in the field.

i. If you have a water bottle cage on your bike, remove it. It makes it very hard to shoulder your bike and there's no real time to actually drink. The race is short enough that you won't need water. That being said, bring a bottle to the start line and toss it to the side just before the race. after the race go back and get it. Nobody messes with the racers stuff at the start line.

j. Get a good night's sleep.

Enjoy yourself, and report back on your experience. Everyone likes a good race report.
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Old 10-27-16, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by mgwilder
Yes, you should just do it. It would have been easier to do a Wednesday World's/mid-week practice session, but many are ending now because of lack of daylight.

More than likely you'll be going off early in the day. Here are some things to keep in mind to make your first race a memorable one. This is a combination of book knowledge, shared knowledge and personal experience and is in no particular order:

a. Be completely packed and prepared the night before. This way you're not running around the house trying to find something you need instead of on your way to the venue. This also includes knowing where you're going and how to get there.

b. Your race is 35-40 minutes long. Pack like you're going away for a long weekend. Bring 2 of everything. At least. If you get wet, muddy or sweaty on your pre-ride, it's nice to change into something fresh for your race. Bring old towels as well.

c. Bring a piece of carpet or rug. It's great for when you step out of the car with no shoes on and you're parked in a paved or dirt lot.

d. Bring a lawn or camping folding chair. There are times it's better to be sitting outside than in your car.

e. Have a nice breakfast about 3 hours before your race and don't eat anything solid until after your race. I once made the mistake of downing a Vega bar before a race and had "cross gut" the entire 40 minutes. A gel with water is about it.

f. Get to the venue early. I try to grab a spot just before registration and the course opens. This way I'm settled in and ready to get as much pre-ride as possible.

g. Leave yourself enough time to pin your number and get prepared. They start the assembly of your race 10-15 minutes before the actual start time, depending on the size of the field.

h. Make sure you pin your number on the correct side of your jersey, right side up. The officials check and they'll make you redo it if it's wrong. They'll tell you at reg. what side to pin it on and this is so the officials can count your lap times and place in the field.

i. If you have a water bottle cage on your bike, remove it. It makes it very hard to shoulder your bike and there's no real time to actually drink. The race is short enough that you won't need water. That being said, bring a bottle to the start line and toss it to the side just before the race. after the race go back and get it. Nobody messes with the racers stuff at the start line.

j. Get a good night's sleep.

Enjoy yourself, and report back on your experience. Everyone likes a good race report.
Thanks. I'm thinking I might actually do the Dec 4 Montrose Harbor race. It's abkut 15 minutes from my place
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Old 10-27-16, 07:59 AM
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Jump in it, you'll have a lot of fun! The one thing I would recommend is learning how to dismount/remount somewhat smoothly. Not being able to do so makes your day a whole lot less fun, and can cause crashes for those behind you.

How To Get Off And On A Cyclocross Bike | Matt Does Cyclo-Cross Ep. 2
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Old 10-27-16, 11:21 AM
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If there was ever an example of perfect timing, here it is:

Race Day: Packing Right, So You Don't Have to Pack It In - Cyclocross Training Tuesday

You don't need to worry about the tools, bike wash and stuff like that at this point.

What kills the experience for me is all the other stuff, not the race itself. If I get to the race late because I had to turn around and get my helmet, which I forgot, then I'm not having any fun until it's over.

I've been to races where people stop at the barriers, step over, then get back on and push off. Just remember, you're in the middle of a race and everyone has different goals. If you feel people coming up from behind you and you're struggling give them the right of way and everyone's happy in the end. Be predictable. Now, if you're in the thick of it and battling for places, elbows out and hold your ground.

If you're interested in technique before you go, there are pages from the JPow book, "Skills, Drills and Bellyaches" online. If you fall in love with CX, go buy it. Highly recommended. But until then, you can search using this table of contents:

https://www.cxhairs.com/wp-content/up...ampleIntro.pdf

If you search the book title, the skill and "pdf" you'll most likely find what you're looking for.
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Old 10-27-16, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by mgwilder
Yes, you should just do it. It would have been easier to do a Wednesday World's/mid-week practice session, but many are ending now because of lack of daylight.

More than likely you'll be going off early in the day. Here are some things to keep in mind to make your first race a memorable one. This is a combination of book knowledge, shared knowledge and personal experience and is in no particular order:

a. Be completely packed and prepared the night before. This way you're not running around the house trying to find something you need instead of on your way to the venue. This also includes knowing where you're going and how to get there.

b. Your race is 35-40 minutes long. Pack like you're going away for a long weekend. Bring 2 of everything. At least. If you get wet, muddy or sweaty on your pre-ride, it's nice to change into something fresh for your race. Bring old towels as well.

c. Bring a piece of carpet or rug. It's great for when you step out of the car with no shoes on and you're parked in a paved or dirt lot.

d. Bring a lawn or camping folding chair. There are times it's better to be sitting outside than in your car.

e. Have a nice breakfast about 3 hours before your race and don't eat anything solid until after your race. I once made the mistake of downing a Vega bar before a race and had "cross gut" the entire 40 minutes. A gel with water is about it.

f. Get to the venue early. I try to grab a spot just before registration and the course opens. This way I'm settled in and ready to get as much pre-ride as possible.

g. Leave yourself enough time to pin your number and get prepared. They start the assembly of your race 10-15 minutes before the actual start time, depending on the size of the field.

h. Make sure you pin your number on the correct side of your jersey, right side up. The officials check and they'll make you redo it if it's wrong. They'll tell you at reg. what side to pin it on and this is so the officials can count your lap times and place in the field.

i. If you have a water bottle cage on your bike, remove it. It makes it very hard to shoulder your bike and there's no real time to actually drink. The race is short enough that you won't need water. That being said, bring a bottle to the start line and toss it to the side just before the race. after the race go back and get it. Nobody messes with the racers stuff at the start line.

j. Get a good night's sleep.

Enjoy yourself, and report back on your experience. Everyone likes a good race report.
Pro tip: Don't use the holes. Pin through the paper, into the jersey, back out into the paper, and then snap shut so that the pin lies flat. Repeat. Personally, I use 8 pins (1 for each corner and edge) but this may be overkill for CX.
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Old 10-27-16, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso
Pro tip: Don't use the holes. Pin through the paper, into the jersey, back out into the paper, and then snap shut so that the pin lies flat. Repeat. Personally, I use 8 pins (1 for each corner and edge) but this may be overkill for CX.
Absolutely not overkill.
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Old 10-27-16, 03:54 PM
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I mean, I usually find 5-6 pins is fine for CX but honestly I wouldn't think you were crazy to use more.
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Old 10-27-16, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Abe_Froman
Thanks. I'm thinking I might actually do the Dec 4 Montrose Harbor race. It's abkut 15 minutes from my place
I'm going to jump into this one, in Golden on Nov 5. On a flat bar 8spd 26er. And the loudest, ugliest socks I can find. Race report will follow forthwith.
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Old 10-28-16, 03:59 AM
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Pictures of the socks or it didn't happen.
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Old 10-28-16, 09:49 AM
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OOOOOO I have some good socks too! Florescent argyle, stripies, skulls, or green dinosaurs?
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Old 10-29-16, 06:22 AM
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+1 to jump in and ride. Many places have cheaper training races too. I ended up with a bike this year because i was jealous of my GF racing and I wasnt haha (she is happy because she has a pit bike, since we ride the same size)
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Old 11-10-16, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by mgwilder
Pictures of the socks or it didn't happen.
this was the race:


this was the bike:

2016-11-05_09-41-51_854.jpg

it's a steel nashbar mtb frame, 8spd flatbar and the only proper cx tires I could find (Schwable, and they're great tires)

and these were the socks...

2016-11-05_09-42-00_893.jpg

Some old DeFeet ski socks that I have...


I met my goals: not last, not hurt, and had fun. All you gotta do is pin a number on and go at it

Last edited by superdex; 11-10-16 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 11-13-16, 06:44 PM
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And there you go! Thanks for the update. Any more coming up?
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Old 11-13-16, 11:05 PM
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Looking to Cowboy Up on Dec 3. Depends on the Holiday Schedule. This was last year: https://vimeo.com/149015463

In the meantime, slowly flipping the 26er to a proper 700C cx bike (via craig's list) ...
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Old 11-23-16, 11:13 AM
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Nice!

I really like the practice sessions during the weekdays before a race. I like how short the courses are and how you can do corners over and over until you figure them out. I also like doing sessions with the gang. It's fun to drop in behind better crossers then try to hang with them as long as possible. Then get dropped and take a shortcut and find them again after resting a bit. Then there's figuring out how to do dis/re mounts smoothly. Such satisfaction to finally "get it"! It must've taken me 100 tries.

Just jumping into a first race w/o practicing seems like recipe for overwhelming but it would still be fun! Also spend the day or at least watch a bunch of races. Make noise. Bring bells. Don't just dial in your day around you. Stay and help tear down after! CX is crazy. 1000 stakes and miles of tape!
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Old 02-06-17, 09:34 AM
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Hah, well unfortunately CX racing never happened this year, but I'm ready to go for the beginning of next years season allready. Installed some old brifters on my Marin commuter, and got a set of 33mm cyclocross tires from the Winter Bike Swap in Chicago. I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be for this
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Old 02-06-17, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by abe_froman
hah, well unfortunately cx racing never happened this year, but i'm ready to go for the beginning of next years season allready. Installed some old brifters on my marin commuter, and got a set of 33mm cyclocross tires from the winter bike swap in chicago. I'm as ready as i'm ever going to be for this
pics!
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Old 02-06-17, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by superdex
pics!
Hah, ok I'll post some pics of it tomorrow. I'm sure it will be fairly unexciting relative to what you guys have, plus it's in commuter mode. Green steel, 40mm slick Voyager hyper tires, fenders, handlebar bag
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