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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a background of liking different and exciting pastimes. For instance, I was into Roller Derby for awhile, then minibike racing, etc. So, now I'm into road biking, which I totally suck at but still enjoy and I come across Cyclocross. Apparently there are some local tournies coming up starting September here. So, is this something someone like me who likes alternative stuff would like? Oh, and one more bit of info though, I HATE running and thusly suck at it too. Mostly because running just for runnings sake holds no value to me. But maybe running during Cyclocross would be ok.

And if you think I would like it, can I use my 10 year old Diamondback Response to start out on? Or is there a fairly inexpensive bike that would be a better starter as I'm kinda broke from paying lots o vet bills on my 11.5 year old Doberman, Elvis.

Got any other tips I could use to get get started in the sport?
 

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1) Go to a race ASAP in the fall. Make sure to get there in time to see the slowest (Cat 4/C) race.
2) Ask yourself if it looks like fun.
3) If it looks like fun, do it.

Most bike racers I have brought to a cross race wanted to try it.

Most of my coworkers think it sounds utterly stupid.

You are probably closer to the former, so you will want to try it. Your bike will be adequate for trying a race, although it is certainly a handicap. But don't worry about that until you've tried a race.
 

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I am a newbie here too, but I tried a Cyclocross race in the mid 90s on my ~35lb steel mountain bike - without training or doing any preparation (I was drinking like a fish and smoking a pack-a-day). Needless to say it took me the entire race to do one lap at Leroy Oaks Forest Preserve before I decorated the grass with my breakfast and retired from cyclocross on the same day as my debut. I finished my lap next to a guy who's seat post had broken and who rode the rest of the race standing up while carrying his saddle! I think the biggest disapointment about that attempt was that I didn't expect to have to work that hard in order to be competitive (ROFL) and I wasn't prepared to change my lifestyle to be better at bike racing.

That being said, I have been running and bicycling for a while now have lost a bunch of weight and am in pretty good shape. I have also been racing cars for the last 10 years or so and am pretty decent at that and strangely enough it feels very similar to bicycling (except for the pedaling). I am now more realistic about my chances for success in something as difficult as cyclocross and realize that it's more about the doing of the thing than the results. I think that I will be out at some of the events this fall, maybe I'll hang out and volunteer some time and try and find my way around before jumping in with both feet but at 42 years old, it might be time for my cyclocross debut (again).

BTW, who should I contact to volunteer my time in the Chicago region?

Regards

Jamie
 

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Find a Cross Clinic

Hi

It sounds like your area has a reasonable cx scene...so there is a better than fair chance they will hold a CX Clinic 1-3 weeks before the first race. Find out the individual/bike store who is the lead promoter for your local races/series and see if they plan on a clinic. A clinic won't make you a pro, but it should help with initial technique on dismounts, remounts, picking lines, etc.

Your diamondback response will be fine initially; lock out the front fork if that is an option or else set it up as rigid as possible. Get some 1.3-1.5 tires (Schwalbe CX Pro Sport 26 x 1.35 for example) and give it a try. It will work fine until you determine if CX is your new love/addiction...if it is, then some inexpensive CX bike choices include:

Bianchi San Jose - Single-Speed fun and pain for around $550.
Motobecane Fantom Cross - $799.95 shipped from BD. Pretty much a Fuji Cross at a discount.
Redline Conquest (not the Pro or Team models) - Pretty easy to find for $700-900 new, or you can pick up a frame for $300ish if you have enough spare parts for a basic build.

Ebay, Craigslist, or a local sale - but caveat emptor, because cx bikes live hard lives.

Best luck, give it a try, and keep us posted if you get hooked.

Regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replies. I think I'll give it a go.

Special thanks to jollydriver, your post was especially helpful. And I checked, the local bike place and sponsor, REI, is indeed having a few clinics in August/September before the first race. My front fork has no shocks so I should be ok there and I'll hop down to my LBS and get a set of the tires you recommended.

I'm all excited now!
 

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re: the running...if you take the mindset that the running is there really just as a means to get to a place where you can get back to riding your bike again, it makes it tolerable. And really, it only makes up a small percentage of most CX races. Generally you are riding your bike for most of the course.

If you get a chance, build some practice barriers (Google "diy cyclocross barriers"; cheap and easy), and work on your dismounts and remounts before your first race. Also it might help to do some criteriums if you haven't already, because CX is very similar in character (short, but fairly intense).

I haven't yet met anyone who's tried CX and not liked it. I predict a new bike in your future :)
 

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Rojo Neck said:
If you get a chance, build some practice barriers (Google "diy cyclocross barriers"; cheap and easy), and work on your dismounts and remounts before your first race.
IMO having actual barriers to run over isn't as important as getting the situation with dismounts and remounts dialed. At the park or trail, look for a fallen tree, etc, as stand-in for a barrier, if you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks guys. One good thing is that if I build the barriers for practice I can use them for my dogs flyball practice too :) One bad thing is that I don't even know what a criterium is.

Oh and whichever way you look at it, good or bad, I probably will end up getting a new bike in my future :)

So, is singlespeed the way to go then with cross?
 

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pretender said:
IMO having actual barriers to run over isn't as important as getting the situation with dismounts and remounts dialed. At the park or trail, look for a fallen tree, etc, as stand-in for a barrier, if you want.
I like having actual "regulation" barriers because then you are prepared for the actual height, spacing, etc., but of course anything close will do as the dismount/remount is the key bit.
 

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If you plan to practice, I'd recommend getting comfortable with the runing dismounts by marking a couple of lines in the grass 2 strides apart, this way you can work on fluid running dismounts without the fear of ending up on your face. Once comfortable with the timing, then add lifting the bike and steping over the barrier.
 
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