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Let me start off with, I've never cx raced or road raced, but am a mid-pack sport class mountain biker. I've signed up for two races in cat 4, as I've heard it's tough competition compared to mtb races. Looking at the next race to sign up for there seems to be a lot of several option(times) for both cat 4 and 3.

For example http://www.bikereg.com/events/register.asp?eventid=11579 here there are two options for cat 4 and and two options for cat 3.

As a new to cx racing, mid-pack sport mtb racer what should I be racing in cx?
 

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I was advised by my teammates to do a few Cat 4 races first since they almost never pull you for being lapped. I was going to do masters 3/4 until the start lists showed a bunch of local Cat 1 mountain bikers in it (mid-pack cat 2 here...)
 

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That's pretty whack!

I say don't move up until you are forced to move up, and if that's the case, I bet the races you've already signed up for will accommodate this.

Cross races favor road types versus mountain bikers in my opinion. Strength over handling skills, at least in the lower categories.
 

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you will likley be surprised how competitive the cat 4 race is. see how it goes and figure it out from there. it's supposed to be fun.
 

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If you don't have a USA cycling license and do the one day you will probably have to do the cat4 only not the 3/4
Believe me it will be hella harder than a typical XC mtn bike race
 

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my advice is to do the 4 race and then do the master's race later in the day. you WILL get dropped quick in the master's race but it will be great training. Wait until you win or get a few podiums before moving up in my opinion.
 

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I'm also a mid-pack Sport mtn biker and I'm mid-pack in Cat4 cross.

Start in Cat4. Cross is more intense than XC, in the sense that there are more changes in speed, more hammering, and also hopping off and running. Roadies with lots of crit experience will be at an advantage physically. You will have a bike handling advantage.

As for waiting to upgrade - I don't buy it. Upgrade as soon as you can hang at the next level. If a $5 trophy in the slowest class in the sport is going to make or break your experience, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. I hope I'm fast enough to move up to 3/4 this season - we'll see in a few weeks. I'll likely double up at smaller races regardless.
 

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BikeFixer said:
If you don't have a USA cycling license and do the one day you will probably have to do the cat4 only not the 3/4
Believe me it will be hella harder than a typical XC mtn bike race
at least in MABRA (mid atlantic), the rule is that a cat 4 can get a one -day even if the class in which he/she races has other categories in it.

the one day cat 4 rule (i.e. that only cat 4s can purchase a one-day) applies to the racer, not the category

marc
dccx
 

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From the USAC rule book:

1D5. Cyclocross Conversion
Cyclocross categories may also be upgraded by conversion from a rider‟s earned road or cross country category. If during the season, a rider upgrades his or her road category or XC category, the cyclocross category can be upgraded to match the road or XC category shown below by request of the rider or by request of the administrator.
CX category based on road or XC category

The chart doesn't copy and paste well, but a cat 2 xc mtb says cat 3 CX. But I would do at least 1 or 2 cat 4 cx races before racing cat 3 cx. Depending on your area, the speed and skill level can be a fairly big jump from 4 to 3.

Honestly I think people get too caught up in the categories. Just go race and have fun.
 
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