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Starting cross in a single speed

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Starting cross in a single speed

Old 08-08-11, 02:42 PM
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Starting cross in a single speed

Iíve been road racing for a couple of years with occasional long distance/24hr MTB races. I bough a Cheap-O SS cross bike from bikes direct to use as a commuter because It would allow me to take some short-cuts on trails and also get more of a workout as I commute. I usually run a marathon or two in the fall after bike racing season winds down, but for a change of pace, Iím thinking I might limit my running races to shorter distances to reduce training time and allow for some cross racing. Iíve been taking my cross bike out on some pretty technical trails and practicing mounting/dismounting to run over the parts that are too technical/steep for a SS cross bike, I am still road racing now, and starting to work some runs into my routine.

I know plenty of people race on single speeds, but I imagine they are mostly seasoned cross racers before the start racing on a single speed. I wish I had a geared cross bike to get starting on, but I only have so much room in my garage and donít want to get rid if anything to make room, so itís like Donald Rumsfeld said, you got to war with the army you haveÖ or something. Because of this, and I know I shouldnít plan on winning my first race, I feel like I should be more prepared than the average cross newbie. Is there any other kind of cross-specific training one should do to get ready? I was expecting there to already be a sticky on the subject, but I didnít see anything. Iím on a race team, but none of them seem to race cross.
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Old 08-08-11, 03:13 PM
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similar situation here for me except this will be my 3rd season of cx and 1st of xc/endurance. i just got into singlespeed in the last month after my full suspension is having massive issues...

anyways, looking forward to the wisdom and wisecracks that will hopefully accumulate here

if anything, you are more prepared than most newbies since you race and it'll be a matter of just switching racing modes. you have the
advantage of knowing the race 'atmosphere' ... but with regards to racing ss (i want to...at this time i am stuck with my 1x9 bianchi), i say give it a
shot. you should be in pretty darn good shape.

by the way, what's your ratio? my 29er rigid is 32x18. i'd like to have a bigger chainring (42, 44?) and more like 20 in the cog. but i'm new to ss and in the 'cross context. you'll love it.

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Old 08-08-11, 03:17 PM
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Sounds like you off to a great start. How much of a disadvantage the singlespeed is will depend on the course. I think a lot of people use singlespeeds when they're first getting into CX just because it's a low cost option and limits the number of things you can break. If you've got a singlespeed class in your area, you've got no worries.

There's an article in the latest issue of Bicycling magazine that gives a very brief training plan for cross season. Like all of their mini training plans, it boils down to "do intervals" but in this case the specific interval recommendation is 10 minute sets of alternating 15 seconds max effort and 15 seconds recovery (or something like that -- I don't have the numbers in front of me). The stated idea is that in a cross race whoever can produce the most short bursts of power wins. That sounds about right.

Of course, with a singlespeed you've got some other issues to consider. The workout above will be even more critical for building your startup power, but depending on the course you may also need to be able to spin like mad in the fast sections so I guess you'll want to work on that too.

You may want to invest in a handful of cogs for your bike to be able to customize the gearing to the course. The rule of thumb is that 2:1 is a good starting ratio.
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Old 08-08-11, 04:47 PM
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I was just looking at the online information for the local cross series, and it appears that they have added a SS category this year. I'm not sure if I'd be better off trying to enter the Cat 4 or the SS field. For riding around town 38x16 is working pretty well, but I might get a few more cogs to experiment with. I think, however, as a better runner than most cyclists, I may be able to get away with a smaller cog since I'll as things get rough or steep I'll probably be a little quicker to dismount and run than others might be.
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Old 08-08-11, 05:21 PM
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The top tier of the SS class will definitely be better than the top tier of the Cat 4 race. A lot of those SS guys are really fast. We've got SS here, but also a lot of people running SS in other cats. I raced in the SS group once because the time slot worked better for me, and I got smoked. Of course, I get smoked in any category. The thing the SS category does is level the playing field for you relative to other people of your same fitness and skill level. You might finish higher in the Cat 4 race, but you also might get beaten by guys you know you shouldn't. For 90 percent of us, CX is all about competing with people we perceive as our peers.

The lower gearing isn't so much for climbing as it is for the many, many accelerations from ~5 mph you'll be doing. Course designers do anything they can to strip you of momentum. I'm pretty comfortable with 42-18 on the rolling hills of my commute, but 38-18 gives me a tough time on anything but the flattest of CX courses. On the other hand, US SSCX champ Adam Craig uses 42-16. He's a bit of an animal, of course. I, on the other hand, have given up SS altogether. You're probably somewhere in between.
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Old 08-08-11, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K
The top The thing the SS category does is level the playing field for you relative to other people of your same fitness and skill level. You might finish higher in the Cat 4 race, but you also might get beaten by guys you know you shouldn't. For 90 percent of us, CX is all about competing with people we perceive as our peers.
Yeah, definitely something to be said for getting beat, at least mostly, by people who are actually better racers.
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Old 08-18-11, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Debusama
Yeah, definitely something to be said for getting beat, at least mostly, by people who are actually better racers.
Where would you normally bracket yourself? Cat-4/3/2/1? At least over here (Seattle metro) and maybe everywhere for all I know, SS division is open. If you're like me and rolling with the Cat-4s, plunking yourself into the Singlespeed division puts you in with the likes of JT Fountain and Craig Etheridge. Dunno about you, but I'd like to finish more than 2 laps before getting passed by the race leaders.
Seriously, there's some scary fast dudes in the SS races.
It's only my first season and I'm racing Cat-4 35+ on a singlespeed. Hopefully I don't get slaughtered too bad.
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Old 08-24-11, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
Where would you normally bracket yourself? Cat-4/3/2/1? At least over here (Seattle metro) and maybe everywhere for all I know, SS division is open. If you're like me and rolling with the Cat-4s, plunking yourself into the Singlespeed division puts you in with the likes of JT Fountain and Craig Etheridge. Dunno about you, but I'd like to finish more than 2 laps before getting passed by the race leaders.
Seriously, there's some scary fast dudes in the SS races.
It's only my first season and I'm racing Cat-4 35+ on a singlespeed. Hopefully I don't get slaughtered too bad.
Yeah, the only reason why I'm even considering racing in the SS pack is because this is the first season that there an SS category in the local cross series, so I am hoping the hardcore SS riders haven't discovered it yet and started driving over from your side of the cascades. More likely than not, I'll at least start with the cat-4s, and watch the SS pack to see if I even want to try it.
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Old 09-19-11, 06:49 PM
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Im guessing you're talking about the Inland Northwest CX series? What I would do is on registration day check out how many people and who have signed up for each field and choose the one that best fits you. The SS category will be blistering fast. Joey (former National champ and last years runner-up) and his brother Louie Fountain will be riding in that class unless they decide to keep racing their single speeds against the Cat 1's and 2's like past years. Either way you will have a blast. I'll be racing single speed as well. Cya out there!
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Old 09-20-11, 12:12 AM
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I race a SS cross bike and wouldn't say I was hardened at all. I like it for a few reasons but mainly because there's so much less to break.
I don't really miss having gears at all, the only drawback is a lack of traction if you have to stand on a climb in mud but at that point you're probably better running anyway.

If I were you I'd race beginner or whatever the lowest cat there is, avoid the SS cat, those guys will be fast.

You might want to think about getting a spare rear wheel with a bigger cog for hilly/muddier courses
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Old 10-10-11, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by WAZZUBIKER
Im guessing you're talking about the Inland Northwest CX series? What I would do is on registration day check out how many people and who have signed up for each field and choose the one that best fits you. The SS category will be blistering fast. Joey (former National champ and last years runner-up) and his brother Louie Fountain will be riding in that class unless they decide to keep racing their single speeds against the Cat 1's and 2's like past years. Either way you will have a blast. I'll be racing single speed as well. Cya out there!
Hey, I don't know which one you were, I'm sure I probably saw you. I raced the SS race a Riverside State Park, and both SS and cat-4 in Moscow. I was happy to see a woman is the SS field in my first race, but that didn't help because she was a badass and kicked my butt like the others. I didn't finish last or get lapped though. In Moscow my cleat twisted in the first lap and I couldn't get my foot out of the pedal. You may remember the guy in the Baddlands kit face-planting every dismount in the first few laps until figured out how to get my foot off the pedal. That course was a lot of fun, like a dirt roller-coaster with all the banked turns and woopty-doos. I finished further up in the Cat-4 pack, might have done better I my legs weren't already so toasted from the SS race. I had to work Sunday so I missed that race, but I'll definitely be at more races though.
I'll see you around
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