Does anyone race cyclocross? I’ve never tried it, but I’m thinking of having a go at cyclocross when the season comes around again but could probably do with some advice to get me going. My vague plan was to finish my current plan (All purpose) at start of April then go to TT plan to take me into the summer, the start the CX plan for end of summer Autumn so I can take in some gravel trails and off road riding? I also like the idea of a bit of running, although would need to be careful as ITB syndrome is what got me into cycling in the first place.
Not 100% about equipment CV choices etc. Is a carbon frame CX bike a good idea? MTB shoes?
Yep, top 10 in my local series is my target this year.
Haven’t thought about training plan yet, but I’m looking at all purpose plan after the TOS, then FTP\MAP blocks. I’m also going for some skills training as the last few years have seen a few too many hospital visits…
Definitely MTB shoes, frame doesn’t matter too much (especially when you add a few kilos of mud). If you have an MTB now, find a few races that let you enter on that to see if you like the cross format.
Yep. But not lately. Solid mid-pack C racer. Fun AF. There’s some great YouTube vids from GCN and others on skills to practice. Like running dismounts and remounts, taking corners, standing starts, shouldering etc. If you can, def give it a shot. You won’t regret it at all.
Agreed. Most races I’ve done allow mountain bikes - you just need to remove any bar ends.
You can also use normal shoes and flat pedals as a starting point.
I definitely support the idea of trying it out on a mountain bike first if you don’t have a cross bike or gravel bike. Once you’re hooked, then you can start looking for a more specific bike for this sort of racing.
It’s a fun sport - you go super hard for 30-60 minutes, then get to hang around watching others race on the same course. It’s very spectator friendly.
Raced for a decade plus and have done two ‘cross races. Precisely enough to know that it suits none of my natural abilities!
OTOH, it is a HUGE scene here in the Pacific Northwest and is very accessible to beginners. Travel distance is usually relatively short, the time commitment to train for a 45 minute event is a lot less than training for a 3+ hour road or MTB race, and there’s usually beer afterwards. If there’s a shop or club locally for you that runs a skills clinic in late summer or early fall, DO IT. The bike handling requirements and the constant dismounts and remounts are something that SUF can’t train you for.
My short answer: a sense of fun. Bike handling skills help, but you adjust your speed based on your skill level, so don’t let this be a barrier of any sort.
There’s a lot of technique (dismounts, remounts, off-cambers, cornering and riding on mixed surfaces, mud, sand, grass, snow) so you get to see improvement from areas other than just power output.
You don’t need to be racing for the win to enjoy racing cross. I almost never see the front of the race after the start, but that doesn’t stop it being a great fun time. You get to race the course, yourself, and whoever happens to be near you. It’s totally legit to be in a two-up sprint for 38th place in a cross race.
Thanks @Glen.Coutts. Hoping to roll into the CX plan after the bulk of TT season if over. Looks to have a lot of short intervals and focus on sprints/AC (which tend to be my 4DP strengths) so should be a lot of ‘fun’
Report back even if it doesn’t. One CX season finale I got my rear derailleur jammed into my rear wheel doing the pre-race route ride through mucky mud. Got a teeny twig caught in it and nearly flipped. DNS but still fun AF!
I started racing cyclocross 3 years ago and got hooked… Recently got a prize in local league. Its hard work but in my experience really friendly, a good atmosphere and inclusive of wide range of ages and no one makes you feel bad for having a go! because its laps, if you’re not at the front there are still races within races to get involved in and as you get more practice in you’ll start moving up the field. I use mountain bike shoes and pedals and got quite a 2nd hand cross bike that does a good job. There is a cyclocross training plan I think, I used it once but didn’t stick to it very well! Def worth practicing skills as you can gain places that way, not just about power in the race as long as you’ve got good endurance for repeating hard efforts. I oy do a bit of running, it’s usually only very muddy races that you run. Best thing is to try a race and you’ll soon know if it’s for you. Good luck!
I started doing CX about 4 years ago. If you don’t already have a CX you can use a gravel bike or mtn bike or both depending on the course and the conditions but I would recommend disc brakes. I ride a Carbon Frame CX bike and I have a hardtail mtn bike that I sometimes use if it is really muddy. I usually keep one bike in the pit in case of a mechanical. I use egg beaters so I can kick the mud off and clip in.
I ride mostly road, gravel and mtn in the spring and summer. The mtn biking is great for the bike handling portion of CX. I usually start a CX specific training in July/August which mainly consists of CX specific bike skills (mounting/dismounting/off camber/etc.) and running. I think the running is important because when you are dismounting and going over barriers, if your legs arn’t used to the impact you could find yourself falling over the barriers instead of running over them. I have first hand experence about how much that stinks.
Also, I think the TT plan is a good idea. I am usually at the upper end of threshold the majority of the CX race. The first CX I did, my teammate told me if I taste blood I am doing it right Not sure that is the most encouraging tip but it was accurate.
Best of luck, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!