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Dumb, dumb questions about CX racing(7 posts)

Dumb, dumb questions about CX racingBiff
Apr 23, 2001 8:14 PM
As soon as mountain racing season ends (October,) I am thinking of finally trying out CX racing. I would like to show up to my first cyclocross race slightly less ignorant than I did to my first MTB race, so I have to ask some dumb questions:

1. How many classes are there? Is a USCF license required?
2. How long are the races usually for these classes?
3. What are courses usually like? I assume they don't have ultra-technical sections due to the skinny tires?
4. What do people typically do if they flat or have another mechanical? Do they fix it or are they just screwed?
5. Do people typically carry water, or do they rely on aid stations? I ask this because I saw a Look CX frame without bottle braze-ons.

See, I told you they were dumb questions.
re: Dumb, dumb questions about CX racingNeo
Apr 24, 2001 1:17 PM
Biff, I am sure you have heard that there is no such thing as a dumb question. Not everyone knows everything all the time!

For the races here, (midwest), they are USCF licensed. We have three classes that equate to the catagories, "C"- for Cat 4/5, "B" for Cat 3, and "A" for 1/2.

For the most part, the "C" and "B" races are 40 to 45 minutes, plus one lap and the "A" races are 50-60 mins plus one lap.

The courses, if a proper cyclo-cross course, would have a little bit of pavement, run-up secions, usally one barrier for every minute of lap time and double track park/dirt path trails. Not very technical. The regs and rules state you should be able to pass at any point on the course. Now I did a race last year that had pure mtn bike singletrack in it. It was tough on a proper cross bike, but the course is the same for everyone and you race on what they give you.

Cyclo-cross, like crits, will lap around a short loop. You will have a wheel pit, to place your spare wheels, if any. If you get a mechanical, you can change, but unlike a crit, we here dont get a "free lap". That may change depending on the area, but a mechanical here would set someone back.

As far as water, some carry water bottles or wear Camelbacks. I am still a traditionalist and dont carry bottles or a camelback. For the most part, you wont have time to drink in a cross race. Its 110% the whole time. Bottle cages get in the way when you shoulder the bike for the run-ups (the proper course should also have run-up sections where you shoulder the bike, along with barriers to leap over and just pick up the bike for). If you have spectators you know, they could hand you a bottle at the bottom of some of the run-up sections, and you could toss the bottle at the top, repeat for each lap as needed. In my five years of racing cross, only twice have I finished a race wishing I had water during it. Pre-hydrate well, and post hydrate even better, and you most likely wont realize during the race the need for water.

Now, I did have a racing partner that uses water, and he asked me to show him any medical study that states its ok to go without water for up to 50 mins during hard exercise. I know its not "good" for you, but I dont think my performance fell off because of not having enough, or any water.

In conclusion, I have raced everything, from formula style cars, to mtn bikes, to road bikes, to Karts, and by far and away, cyclo-cross and formala car racing are the most fun you can have with your pants on. Go out and watch a few, get hooked, watch some of the videos from World Cycling Productions and have fun. I am just sorry that here in the upper midwest, our season is so short due to winter. We pack eight races into seven weeks, and trust me, cyclo-cross is not an event to do two days in a row!

re: Dumb, dumb questions about CX racingBiff
Apr 24, 2001 8:20 PM
Wow, thanks for answering all of my questions! I am particularly attracted to CX racing because I'm much better of an endurance athlete than I am a bike handler. During MTB races I typically dust most of the field during climbs, then crash my brains out or get passed on the technical sections, unless I get trapped behind slower riders during singletrack. Also as an ex-distance runner, I like the idea of a race that mixes in some running.

Thanks again for the advice, and I will have to track down a source for those videos.
just don't trip on a barrier, you'll do fine (nm)climbo
Apr 25, 2001 4:51 AM
Well, I've run the steeplechase before, so I'm not too worried!Biff
Apr 26, 2001 4:09 PM
that's what I thought, until I had a 25 lb bike on my shoulderclimbo
Apr 27, 2001 10:07 AM
and I had to clip out, pick it up, sling it over my shoulder, jump three barriers and put it back down again all at full running speed. Practice this before you race. Good luck.
Apr 25, 2001 7:05 AM
World Cycling Productions 1-800-359-3107, or

Also, check out Simon Burney's book on cyclo-cross, a must have.