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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, Washington
    Posts
    6

    Newbie...Lots of questions

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    I am thinking about trying cyclocross this year but am a little nervous as I have never done any type of racing and have just started to ride my road bike about 6 months ago. What I want to know is... I am warning you this is probably the stupidest question but here it goes... if I use my road bike do I just get new tires or do I have to get new wheels also? I wouldn't plan on using my road bike forever but at least during the clinics to see if this is something I can even do. Do you use different shoes? How do I train? How much do you carry your bike? Okay, you get the picture, I am clueless so anything to help would be great. I already checked out some other links that were posted on here but I want feedback from people who have actually done it and been the new girl.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Maynard, MA
    Posts
    145
    Not stupid questions! That you are considering 'cross is great, and it's not hard to do. Watching a race, if you haven't yet, is a good way to see what's going on at first.

    A road bike doesn't work so well for 'cross. The main reason is that once you put on the knobby tires (and you will need them - you won't need new wheels though), there won't be enough clearance between the road brakes and the knobby tires. So you'd need to get different brakes - cantilevers or V-brakes, like for mountain bikes.

    Once you take care of the tires and the brakes, you could do 'cross on your road bike. That's what they did in the old days. Nowadays, they make bikes that are designed in many ways just for 'cross. The frame angles are more "relaxed" than on a road bike, so the bike is more stable and forgiving. The fork tends to be beefier. People tend to run some easier gearing, and even use a mountain derailleur on the rear.

    You'd want to use shoes with lugged soles. Any shoe as long as it's not a smooth-sole road shoe. Clipless pedals are the norm in 'cross racing, but the mountain type, not the road-only type. You could do 'cross on flat pedals, if you had to.

    Also, if you have a mountain bike, especially a hard-tail one, you can do 'cross on it. There is no rule in 'cross about what bike to use, as long as there are not bar-ends on the mountain bars. You will almost always see a few people racing 'cross on mountain bikes. It's a good way to see how you like it before getting a 'cross bike. People eventually make the switch, because a 'cross bike is faster than a mountain bike. It has the bigger wheels, skinnier tires, and is lighter.

    Don't worry too much about training until you have some races under your belt. You'll figure out what you need to work on. Just figure out how to race 'cross at first.

    There may be one to three places on a course where you need to carry your bike. People sometimes make a big deal about the technique for this, but don't worry too much about that, either. You can figure out the technique for it later, and it's not that crucial anyway.

    Let us know how you make out!

    Sally
    Last edited by Voodoo Sally; 08-22-2007 at 08:13 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Vancouver, Washington
    Posts
    6
    Thanks so much for your reply. I have a couple more questions though now. Like I said earlier, I am completely new to this whole biking thing so bare with me. Could you explain lugged soles and hard-tail mountain bikes? I have clipless pedals on my road bike but I use mountain bike shoes so would those be considered lugged soles? Also, I have a mountain bike but I have no idea if it is a hard-tail or not. All I know is that I tried to pick the thing up to see if I would be able to run with it or not and oh my was it heavy!

    Sarah

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Maynard, MA
    Posts
    145
    No problem. A lugged sole is one that is knobby, for increased traction. If you have mountain bike shoes, chances are that they have lugged soles.

    A hard-tail mountain bike is one that has no rear-end shock absorber. Many mountain bikes these days have a rear shock, which is nice, but it makes the bike heavier, and isn't necessary for 'cross. It sounds like your mountain bike is heavy, and you therefore you probably wouldn't want to haul it on a 'cross course.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080
    actually, even if you switch brakes, you probably still won't be able to mount cross tires on your road bike -- there most likely won't be clearance at the seat tube and/or chain stays and fork for the larger cross tires.

    but, depending on your courses, I've seen road bikes race cyclocross -- crazy if you ask me, but it can work if you don't have super-loose or rocky/rooty courses. here in northern california, some of our courses are pretty flat, hard-packed and fast (and typically dry until at least December).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Maynard, MA
    Posts
    145
    Quote Originally Posted by velogirl View Post
    actually, even if you switch brakes, you probably still won't be able to mount cross tires on your road bike -- there most likely won't be clearance at the seat tube and/or chain stays and fork for the larger cross tires.
    Good point. I got to wondering about that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    44

    Go for it!

    as far as racing goes, cross is one of the easiest sports to get started in. The only pressure really is the pressure you put on yourself. There are beginning fields, and you can pretty much race it at your own pace. (not like road racing at all) There are some heavy duty people out there, but the majority of people are doing it for fun. Maybe your local LBS can loan you a bike? I had a friend loan me one for the first few races, until I got my own. My first cross bike (all I had was a road bike, no mountain bike) was a used bike for $400. It lasted for two seasons and was great fun.

    Steph

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Md suburbs of Wash. DC
    Posts
    2,131
    This is a link I found a year or so ago so I don't know how current or accurate all of the info about UCI rules, etc, is, but it includes some good female-oriented tips for buying a 'cross bike or putting together a getto-'crosser: Cyclocross for Smaller Riders. Check out the photo of her flying re-mount!
    "How about if we all just try to follow these very simple rules of the road? Drive like the person ahead on the bike is your son/daughter. Ride like the cars are ambulances carrying your loved ones to the emergency room. This should cover everything, unless you are a complete sociopath."
    David Desautels, in a letter to velonews.com

    Random babblings and some stuff to look at.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    3,867
    hijack: What IS cyclocross exactly? What makes it different from mountain bike racing?

    I'd be really surprised if there are any events in my area, but it'd be fun to find out.

    ETA: Never mind. I wiki'd it.

    I was right about there not being anything in my area. Apparently you need winter.

    Karen
    Last edited by Tuckervill; 08-23-2007 at 07:13 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Maynard, MA
    Posts
    145
    I just realized that you won't be able to mount other types of brakes on your road bike. The road bike won't have the proper mounts to install V-brakes or cantilevers on the fork or the frame. Sorry.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Md suburbs of Wash. DC
    Posts
    2,131
    Quote Originally Posted by Tuckervill View Post
    I was right about there not being anything in my area. Apparently you need winter.
    Actually, Karen, you don't necessarily need winter. As I understand it, 'cross began as a winter sport because European cyclists were looking for a way to maintain fitness during the off-season. In the "Who's ready for 'cross season?" thread, I posted some links to articles about 'cross. If you enjoy watching or participating in cycle racing, 'cross is a very fun, kinda funky alternative to road and mtb. I've yet to see one of these races in the snow, but I'm definitely hoping to this winter
    "How about if we all just try to follow these very simple rules of the road? Drive like the person ahead on the bike is your son/daughter. Ride like the cars are ambulances carrying your loved ones to the emergency room. This should cover everything, unless you are a complete sociopath."
    David Desautels, in a letter to velonews.com

    Random babblings and some stuff to look at.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080
    you definitely don't need "winter" weather. here in CA, we rarely get rain, nevermind snow, so cross is a dry, hot, dusty sport!

    I'll echo what others have said: "go for it! cross is a blast and it's a super-beginner-friendly sport!"

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Suburban MA and Western ME
    Posts
    1,822
    Heck - even here in the Northeast, we didn't have winter during 'cross season last year. In fact, I remember MAYBE two muddy races all season....

    Enjoy - 'cross is the most fun you can possibly have on a bike!

    SheFly
    "Well behaved women rarely make history." including me!
    http://twoadventures.blogspot.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    3,867
    So, you don't need winter. But we don't have any events that I've found, either. I looked at the calendar on cyclocrossworld.com. Nothing even near here. Oh well. There is a crit nearby coming up in September, but I'll be in Vermont.

    I would love to just go and watch some of these things. I'll try to get more plugged in.

    Thanks,
    Karen

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080
    Karen, where are you located?

 

 

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