Cross Bike or MTB for first cross race
I was planning on doing a 6 hour endurance race this Sunday if I could get someone to do the 2 person team with me, but it looks like that isn't going to happen and 6 hours solo is too long for me right now. The race is also a pretty good distance from my house and I don't really want to be away from my family for that long.
So with this plan scratched I saw that there is a cyclocross race that is 20 minutes from my house. I haven't done a cyclocross race before and I haven't practiced un-mounting and mounting at al.
I have a cyclocross bike (first bike I bought) and a hard tail. I have a quite a few miles (probably 1,000 or so) on the cyclocross bike, but I haven't rode it for over a couple months and I don't feel as if I can handle it as well as the mountain bike in technical areas. They both weigh about the same with the cross bike around 25 pounds and the hardtail around 26 pounds. The mountain bike is much better tuned up and well maintained as it is/was often used for racing. The cross bike is more of a beater and putting in road/gravel miles and has a pretty junk wheelset. I have cross tires for the cross bike and I would be running ignitor in the front and aspen in the back for the hardtail. I could probably go aspen/aspen, but I don't think I would have the time before the race to set it up.
What would you race? The cross bike, or the hardtail?
If you can't tell, I am leaning towards the mountain bike. I am just wondering if I would do better with a cross bike though since I have one.
Any other tips for a first cross race?
I'd rather be riding
Cross bike! But only because of tradition haha
Use what you're most comfortable on, then work on getting comfortable on the 'cross bike if you want to race cross. You won't be the only one on a hardtail.
Sounds like you would have more fun and be more comfortable on the HT..good way to get a feel for it to see if you like it or not...if you do get some practice time on the cx....
Is your HT a 29er ?? Can you strip the CX tires off your cross bike and put them on your HT wheel set ? If they are 700 x 35 or something then you should be able to mount them on your 29er mtb wheels.
If your HT is a 26er, well then, I would say run your HT with whatever skinniest, low profile, and screaming fast tires you have to minimize your tread width disadvantage compared to the 35 mm std. cross tire width of your competitors. Even if you have worn down knobs on your Ignitor tires !
Also, I would recommend hitting the woods and find yourself a good size log in the trail and practice your dismounting from a medium speed. Just to get comfortable with clipping out when you come up on the obstacles during the race. Or if you are short on time - then get to the race early, get in a lap or two, and spend a few minutes on the boards or obstacles. There may be some quick guidelines or youtube videos on dismounting the correct way so you do not crash on the boards in front of the hecklers !!
just my $0.02
Yea, the HT is a 29'r. I don't remember what tires I have on the cross bike, but I believe the back is a michelin mud 2 (30C) and the front is a Maxxis that they don't sell any more. The HT wheels that I am running are ZTR Crests.
I also have a remote lockout on the HT and when locked out it is a pretty stiff ride.
I've got a month old 2013 Epic Comp Carbon 29'r with Roval Control SL wheels that comes in over a pound lighter than my HT. With the brain and the crown lockout I can make it an extremely stiff ride comparable or even stiffer than the HT. The HT when remote locked out still has about an inch of travel whereas the epic locked out has only a couple mm. The wheels are 200 grams lighter than the ztr Crests. I kinda wrote it off based on having to shoulder/carry the bike with the FS frame and being heckled for riding a double boinger in a cross race.
IMHO go with the 29er HT for racing CX until you are comfortable on your cross bike. And strip off your cross tires (if they are in good shape) and mount them on your HT. Then go work on your dismounts and barriers and do a few 30 sec hard, all out sprints with 3 or 4 min. recovery to get yourself fired up for race day ! Good luck !
I will go against the flow here & suggest you run the cross bike. You own it & that is what it's designed for. Spend some time on over the next few days before the race to re-aquaint yourself with it. Why put yourself at a competitive disadvantage by running rhe MTB?
"There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea
It won't make much of a difference the first time you do it. I wouldn't even bother to change the setup, unless it has bar ends - most promoters will require that you take those off.
If you like it, catch up on the maintenance on the 'cross bike and get some trail time in on it, so you can figure out "your" tire pressure, get comfortable handling it on dirt, give any equipment issues a chance to crop up when it's not such an inopportune time, etc.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
Well, I decided to go with the cross bike knowing that whatever I chose would be the wrong decision and I might as well just jump in with both feet and try the cross bike.
I went on a 10 mile ride on Friday during lunch with the cross bike and I had free time when I got home so I went on a 10 mile ride practicing going over a curb and dismounting/mounting with the cross bike and everything seemed pretty smooth and natural for me.
The whole experience was very confusing for me. I had to put the number on my side. I didn't know how hard to push it if I was going to blow-up or not go hard enough and didn't feel super-motivated to race. I more or less just wanted to hang back and get a feel for everything and try to soak everything in instead of go out 100% and crash or blow up. I did a practice lap at a very easy tempo and everything seemed good to go. The course is a permanent course and is very twisty and has a lot of short climbs that often have off camber turns in them. The course was very dry and had loose dirt in some areas.
I positioned myself about 2/3 of the way back on the start and I just wanted to hang with the pack at first and see how things went and make moves based on how I was feeling. For the most part I didn't feel like racing. I don't know why. Every once in a while I just get into a Zen state of mind where I am enjoying myself and relaxed and don't care about pushing it. Oh well. Well the first barrier came up in the first minute or so and I went over it better than most, but when I set my bike down I heard something hitting my spokes. I kept riding and looking down trying to figure it out and couldn't so I stopped and inspected the bike and saw that my garmin cadence monitor had bounced around and was hitting the spokes. By the time that I had that situated the pack had rode out of site. I spent the rest of the race picking off maybe 2 or 3 people or so from the back of the pack.
I actually felt like I went through the barriers better than most people that I was around and dismounting and the flying leaps seemed pretty natural to me. I am sure it looked better in my head than in real life.
So on choosing the bike. My hands kept cramping from all of the braking that I wasn't used to on the hoods. I felt like I was moving pretty good on the flat hard sections, but the off camber small hills I felt like I was having trouble keeping traction and I could have kept better speed railing turns on my hardtail and more comfortable and stable. I feel like I could have braked later on the mountain bike, but found myself braking pretty early on the cross bike in order to slow me down enough for the sharp turns. On the mountain bike I think I would have been more in race mode and been more comfortable hammering it. The biggest item was the cadence monitor that I pretty much forgot about that probably lost me 30+ seconds or so.
I only have one race left for the year and it is a mountain bike race. I guess I have 12 months or so to think if I want to persue this whole cross thing or not. It wasn't a bad experience or anything, but if given the choice, I would have much preferred to race mtb. I'll probably only do them in the future if it looks like I am going to have free time and there isn't a mtb race in the area.
First races are all about cleaning up stuff like time left on course and bad bike setup. It's too bad you're not doing this at the beginning of your region's 'cross season. When I moved to my current city in 2008, I was just in time for 'cross and did several races. I think that was really good for making some fairly good habits in terms of my race morning routine and gear selection.
I've been Strava-ing my races lately. It can be a great way to put some numbers on what I felt about laps after the fact. One thing I've learned is that for a race the length of 'cross, it's not useful for me to pace myself. At least, very little. I was feeling a little nauseous by the second to last lap of my last race, but looking at times, my laps are all pretty close to each other in time - so I didn't blow myself up or anything. There was a XC race I did a while ago where I felt pretty nauseous by the top of the first lap. I throttled back a little and found out after the fact that that had been my fastest lap. I was probably right to use the downhill-trending second half to recover a bit, but I should have worked it harder on the way back up. The point being, have a look at your GPS track and see what the numbers show you. Make a segment, or whatever it's called on the service you use, for the lap. Sometimes it takes a little tinkering to get one that works well. It can be very illuminating.
My big theme this season has been to lose like a winner. I didn't quite go as hard as I'd have liked in my token traditional XC race, but I did at least PR it. I've upgraded once and gotten away with a few things in my new category on the track. My one result so far in 'cross hasn't been that good, but I haven't had that good a result in 'cross in several years - it's not my 'A' race, and I think I need to spend a lot more time on intervals to get rid of that minute per lap that's between me and the podium at the moment.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
Did you stick around for the Men's Open race and see TK take 3rd on his hardtail? It can be done, just depends on what you're most comfortable on. Don't let that one scare you off, that course didn't have any flow at all; this weekend will be better. At least give one Bubba race a shot.
All of my laps were pretty consistent being only 16 seconds seperating my slowest to my fastest lap in a total of five laps. The slowest lap was the first one with the cadence monitor issue. Like I said, I never really felt comfortable, or felt like wanting to put the hammer down, and once I lost sight of the pack my motivation definitely went away. I never ran myself cross eyed or had labored breathing except for maybe the last minute or so. I think the next one I will do will be on the hardtail and lockout the fork. I ride that bike much more comfortably and feel like it is more forgiving.
Bike Ride Profile | 7miles near Godfrey | Times and Records | Strava
I didn't stick around after the race as I had to get back home. I did see and have heard that TK races on a mountain bike and saw that he got 3rd. I might be able to do the WTB cross race this weekend, but my October is super busy and the only race I will be able to do is burnin'.
The month of November looks pretty free and I'll have to see if I can squeeze in a Bubba race.
Aaron, have you ever done the tracks n' treads biathlon on SIUE campus? That's a pretty fun race and should be right up your alley.
I've wanted to Burnin' the past couple summers when I'm in XC mode, but once CX starts all I want to do is race cross. I've never done the biathlon up at SIUE; I've heard good things about it but I haven't run a race since the Go STL half marathon in 2010. Speaking of other fun events - the Dirt Crits at Castlewood in July are AWESOME.
yea, I have wanted to do burnin' since I heard about it like 4 years ago and this will be my first time. I went to council bluff last year and it is a blast to ride. Pretty much a rollercoaster the whole time.
I have done the dirt crits the last two years and was a pretty consistent mid-pack B class this last year and last year was my first year racing C's. I won't lie though, I thought it was more fun in 2011 with the free beer and food and more technical course. This year with the asphalt straight I kept on getting stuck and held up behind people on cross bikes in the singletrack sections only to make it to the asphalt and get dropped like no tomorrow by them.
The biathlon had trail running for the first time last year which I find a lot more fun and challenging than road running.
When I've taken my MTB to 'cross races or team practices, I've had this problem too. It just doesn't match the rhythm of everyone who's on 'cross bikes. Whether that's an advantage or a problem is going to depend on the strength of the rider and on the course.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
I would go with the cross bike. I don't think you will regret it.
Now you have done one race, you have an idea of what to expect in a cross race. I totally get the idea of lining up near the rear of the field so you can get an idea of what it is all about. Now that you've done this, don't do it again. I have no idea where your fitness and skills should put you, but try to line up as close to the front as possible and remember that every cross race begins with a field sprint. Once you're off, try to get yourself as close to the front as possible and then work on maintaining that position. Continue to move up if you can! I think this will help with your motivation and will keep your head in the race since you will be more "in the game" instead of dangling off the back.
And it sounds to me like you just didn't dig it on your CX bike. I suggest putting your cross tires on your MTB like many others mentioned and doing it that way. Or just get more used to your cross bike. I did my first CX season on my rigid 29er SS, but I eventually did get a used cross bike and I use that now. The lighter cross bike, especially with lighter wheels, makes it seem faster to get up to speed with less energy wasted on suspension squat or large volume squishy tires. But if you're riding your cross bike and the whole time you are missing your MTB, then maybe you should be on your MTB. Just lighten it up as much as you can!
I totally get the idea of lining up near the rear of the field so you can get an idea of what it is all about. ......... don't do it again. ..... try to get yourself as close to the front as possible and then work on maintaining that position.
Well stated !
Last edited by yetimeister514; 09-28-2012 at 09:33 AM.
Reason: quote edit