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  1. #1
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    Race a mtb event on a cross bike?

    I'm a relatively new road and cyclocross racer, but mostly focused on 'cross, as I have found that the most fun in my relatively limited experience.

    With the new USAC license for 2014, I no longer have to buy another license to race a mountain bike event.

    I do own a mountain bike, although "vintage" by today's standards (1994 Kona Explosif). Wonder if I was smart about which events I registered for, could I get away with racing a mountain bike race on my 'cross bike?

    I wouldn't be looking to win or even do particularly well, but think it could be fun and challenging and better practice for 'cross season than wailing on my road bike.

    So, if I am not entirely crazy, what would I want to think about and prepare before rolling to the start grid?

  2. #2
    Armature speller
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    I just put on a 24/36 front ring combo, 11-34 rear and turned up.

    Was great fun, although the tree roots were the worst bit...

    I think some of the MTB'ers would shake their heads in amazement at some of the CX courses too...

  3. #3
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    One of my teammates does this now and then.

    It depends on the course. Do some training rides on your 'cross bike on trails, and dust off and tune up your old MTB. Try to preride courses you're thinking about competing on.

    I'd expect that steep climbs and sustained descents will be your biggest problems.
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  4. #4
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    I've thought about it. About the only thing holding me back is my cross bike is setup as a 1x10. Not really worth the trouble to me to set it up, since I have a mtb.

  5. #5
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    I'm on a 1x10 as well. I guess not really practical for climbing.

  6. #6
    Armature speller
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    Quote Originally Posted by krisdrum View Post
    I'm on a 1x10 as well. I guess not really practical for climbing.
    Plenty of 26 and 29er mtb's run 1x10 quite successfully...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    Plenty of 26 and 29er mtb's run 1x10 quite successfully...
    Yes, I've raced 1x10 on my mtb for 2 years now. Theres a difference between 32x36-11 on the mtb and 38x27-12 on the cx bike.

  8. #8
    Armature speller
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fakie1999 View Post
    Yes, I've raced 1x10 on my mtb for 2 years now. Theres a difference between 32x36-11 on the mtb and 38x27-12 on the cx bike.
    That's why I put an 11-34 on the CX bike for MTB races and if I was going to do it again, I'd have a spare chain and 34/11-36 setup ready to swap on to the CX.

  9. #9
    Mtn View, CA
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    Do USAC rules have equipment requirements preventing a cross bike from racing XC?
    I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.

  10. #10
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    Nope. There are some rules, but they basically come down to having an upright bike with brakes on both wheels and dimensions somewhere within the realm of sanity. A 'cross bike should already comply.
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  11. #11
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    This is from the UCI rulebook.

    4.1.039bis
    During MTB races no traditional road handlebars may be used.
    The handlebars extensions of a triathlon or time trial type are forbidden, but traditional
    barends are authorized.
    (article introduced on 1.02.12).
    http://www.uci.ch/Modules/BUILTIN/ge...34424&LangId=1

  12. #12
    Mtn View, CA
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    Could you imagine an official telling John Tomac he couldn't ride with his drops back in the day?
    That's like flat bars aren't allowed in cross races.
    Last edited by gddyap; 01-07-2014 at 09:13 AM.
    I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum.

  13. #13
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    I raced Sea Otter on my CX bike and had all kinds of people whine about it, like I had some unfair advantage???

  14. #14
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by azgreg22 View Post
    My mistake.

    Still worth double-checking USAC rules. The full UCI set aren't in force in most races in the US. And of course if the OP is in a state that doesn't do USAC...

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    My mistake.

    Still worth double-checking USAC rules. The full UCI set aren't in force in most races in the US. And of course if the OP is in a state that doesn't do USAC...

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4
    Just double checked the USAC rules and I didn't see any rule prohibiting drop bars.

  16. #16
    Teen Wolf
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    go for it and have fun. i'd definitely make sure i knew the course before doing it. i've done it on great courses for a cx bike and some not so great ones. it can be great fun, or it can totally suck. **** the uci.

  17. #17
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    Thanks all for keeping the conversation going. I'm in NY, so we are USAC minions.

    As for the UCI ruling, wouldn't that only apply to Elites? That is certainly the way it is in CX. Elites must use 33mm wide tires or less. No such stipulation for us mortals.

    I might give it a shot if I can get my new CX wheels built in time. I'd imagine running tubeless would help limit my opportunities for equipment failure. I just picked up some of the new WTB cross rims, that are UST standard.

    it would also help to get my butt out on the trails under non-race conditions and see where I am at.

  18. #18
    little mad riding hood
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    just FYI I was volunteering at CX Nats and chatting with a couple guys in the stage while we were waiting for the officials to score... suffice to stay none other than Steve Johnson himself said that UCI rules do not directly apply to local amateur races and if I wanted to race my disc brake cross bike on the road in summer to go for it - no one will say anything about drop bars in a MTB race, flat bars in a cross race, or discs on the road in anything short of a UCI event.

    I myself have raced a cross bike at the local Battle the Bear XC (which is not a NORBA sanctioned event) and done just fine. It's a non-technical, flat and fast course which is ideal for 'cross bikes.

    now if the promoters themselves put some type of ban on it (last year the Winter Park promoter banned CX bikes in their hillclimb event because it's just a 5 mile slog up a non technical fire road and tons of people were using CX bikes and whiners were whining about it) that's a different story. Plan accordingly.

  19. #19
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    Funny, I'd have argued that people using 'cross or road bikes for a fire road hill climb doesn't break the game, but is the game. It just means that instead, the game will be to make as improbably light a MTB as possible while still paying lip service to the rules.

    I actually rather like the USAC (as opposed to tighter UCI) equipment rules. They read to me as being as broad as possible while still restricting competitors to upright bicycles that are safe for competition. IOW, if the event doesn't favor the "right" bicycle, there's something wrong with the course or the event's billing.
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  20. #20
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    I could be wrong, but as I'm to understand it, if you are participating in a USAC event, you are bound by both USAC and the UCI's rules since USAC is a part of the UCI.

    That's part of what all the uproar about UCI rule 1.2.019 is about. All UCI rules apply to all USAC events and biggest of all, all USAC licensed riders, because effectively all USAC licensed riders carry a UCI license.

    USAC didn't enforce it for years cause it's bull****, and the UCI was content to look the other way. Then someone (probably a doper who still sucked) got all butthurt about something, complained, and now the UCI has to crack down.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I actually rather like the USAC (as opposed to tighter UCI) equipment rules. They read to me as being as broad as possible while still restricting competitors to upright bicycles that are safe for competition. IOW, if the event doesn't favor the "right" bicycle, there's something wrong with the course or the event's billing.
    I agree with this, but in the case of an XC race, let the CX'er compete, when the trail becomes too technical for the fast light CX bikes and punctures and overly excessive line considerations become the challenge, having the right bike for the job becomes the advantage...aka a proper mountain bike.

    I have taking my carbon road bike on the lighter MTB trails just for fun, and could probably be faster than some many of the cat 3 competition, I wouldn't consider it for a race as I would get raped by my piers in cat 2 with cat 1 sandbaggers. A CX would definitely better my chances, but would in no way give me an advantage, but for someone trying it out or doing it for fun.. I say go for it, if that's what you have. No reason to go invest into a bike just to test the waters..especially if you're comfortable on the bike you have.
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  22. #22
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe_Re View Post
    I could be wrong, but as I'm to understand it, if you are participating in a USAC event, you are bound by both USAC and the UCI's rules since USAC is a part of the UCI.

    That's part of what all the uproar about UCI rule 1.2.019 is about. All UCI rules apply to all USAC events and biggest of all, all USAC licensed riders, because effectively all USAC licensed riders carry a UCI license.

    USAC didn't enforce it for years cause it's bull****, and the UCI was content to look the other way. Then someone (probably a doper who still sucked) got all butthurt about something, complained, and now the UCI has to crack down.
    The point with rule 1.2.019 applies only to Pro/1/2 events. For us mere mortals contesting the Cat 3/4 (and anything lower than Pro in NORBA events, so Cat 1 / Expert is fine) they're not going to bother enforcing UCI rules.

    That is straight from the horse's mouth per a conversation I had with Steve Johnson and a couple of level 1 USAC officials btw.

    Rule 1.2.019 was only put into play in the first place because the Euros apparently felt that UCI Division 1 pros cherry picking prize lists at unsanctioned events (gran fondos, randonees, etc.) was unfair. Which, whatever but the whole ordeal came about because the way bike racing is structured in Western Europe is entirely different from how it's structured in North America.

    We could have a whole conversation about how ambivalent I am about unsanctioned MTB events (some are fine, many are a complete unruly mess and there's zero consistency as to category enforcement, safety or doping controls but I get that NORBA has made a mess of things over the past decade and people are bitter about that).

    I think the single license for all USAC sanctioned events is a major step in the right direction.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by lonefrontranger View Post
    The point with rule 1.2.019 applies only to Pro/1/2 events. For us mere mortals contesting the Cat 3/4 (and anything lower than Pro in NORBA events, so Cat 1 / Expert is fine) they're not going to bother enforcing UCI rules.

    I get that, and while USAC may not enforce it beyond the pro ranks, I was just saying that I was under the impression that all those rules apply to all of us.

    We could have a whole conversation about how ambivalent I am about unsanctioned MTB events (some are fine, many are a complete unruly mess and there's zero consistency as to category enforcement, safety or doping controls but I get that NORBA has made a mess of things over the past decade and people are bitter about that).

    The funny thing is, at least here in New England and in my limited experience, the unsanctioned events have fewer mistakes in the results, which I find completely unacceptable. Perhaps it is due to larger and larger start lists in the bigger events.

    I think the single license for all USAC sanctioned events is a major step in the right direction.
    I agree.

  24. #24
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    I'm bad at this interwebs stuff. I don't know how my words got in your quote.

  25. #25
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe_Re View Post
    I'm bad at this interwebs stuff. I don't know how my words got in your quote.
    it's ok, I can parse what you're saying. To multi-quote requires opening/closing multiple "quote" tags in the post, which can be a PITA esp on a smartphone so I often resort to parantheticals or italics instead, either way is fine and understandable.

    As far as unsanctioned events, I didn't say they suck, I merely said I'm ambivalent about them. Mainly because I've seen a lot of inconsistency out here in the way things are run, how well they're organized and whether their risk insurance would actually function effectively in a real medical emergency situation.

    And I'm sorry if you're a well known pro triathlete you should not be racing "sport" class to cherry pick a win by over ten minutes per race for an entire series, and if you're on the podium in every Expert race at Winter Park you should not be racing Bs in the local short track series (all unsanctioned events) but that's just me and I'm kinda old and bitter and mostly over it by now. My experiences with NORBA in the 90s in the Midwest meant that, at the very least the same officials would be working at all the regional MTB and road events and they keep track of this stuff across the board. I actually got my license hole punched and handed back to me after my 3rd beginner class win in 1995 by a smiling official who said "welcome to Sport class!".

  26. #26
    little mad riding hood
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Funny, I'd have argued that people using 'cross or road bikes for a fire road hill climb doesn't break the game, but is the game. It just means that instead, the game will be to make as improbably light a MTB as possible while still paying lip service to the rules.
    already happened. I know of at least a half dozen murdered-out "rigid hardtails" that were purpose builds for that event last summer, and they were basically just carbon CX frames with a flatbar on that weighed less than my full carbon Campy Record road bike. Which means it's totally stupid for the promoter to apply that rule because the game then becomes all about who has the most money to throw at the solution, and it sucks for any beginners coming in from racing collegiate 'cross whose only bike is probably an alloy Felt running Tiagra that weighs more than my dually Niner.

    I actually rather like the USAC (as opposed to tighter UCI) equipment rules. They read to me as being as broad as possible while still restricting competitors to upright bicycles that are safe for competition. IOW, if the event doesn't favor the "right" bicycle, there's something wrong with the course or the event's billing.
    bingo. you and I are on the same page.

  27. #27
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    **** the rules and **** belly-achers. This thread just reminded me everything I hate about organized racing.

    Other than that, you totally should, I've done a bunch of crazy **** on my wide tired cross bike. It makes me feel like those crazy old timers bombing fire roads in Marin thirty years ago, crazy fun.

  28. #28
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    I did several mtb races on a cx bike. Worked out fine. Super fast going up hills, and super slow going down them. I had canti brakes, which basically never worked. So there were many frightening descents. Only once did I totally chuck it, but it was a doozy. 20ish mph down a rutted hill. I was bouncing so much thay the bike went straight at the bottom instead of following the trail to the left.. it was challenging and fun. The mtb's, even my hardtail, were much EASIER to race. WAY faster downhill. A little slower up. Faster for me overall. I put a slightly shorter stem on mine pre race and also tipped the hoods towards the seat a little, so it was easier to hold on to.

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  29. #29
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    I personally wouldn't object to it...unless it was a very tame course, the mountain bike is going to have the advantage (assuming the engine is there) simply because it is the right tool for the job. However, there are things you can do to make a cross bike a bit more trail worthy. Offroad drop bars will give you a bit better handling and control, and if your fork is accepting, running a larger volume tire up front. 30-32c's are pretty puny compared to 38-40s. This transformation is the beginning of going into monstercross territory
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  30. #30
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    USAC-sanctioned events are typically governed by USAC rules. Which is the rules in their book, not the rules in UCI's book. There're a fair number that are the same or similar, but UCI doesn't kick in until elite level racing. Basically, if you're an international-level cyclist, you play by UCI rules, if you're not (and your state does USAC, mine doesn't for MTB) you play by whatever rules the promoter is enforcing. Which means the USAC rule book for sanctioned races.

    We have two 'cross events a year that have elite classes. So there's always some brouhaha about what rules will be enforced and in what categories. But most of the time in the US it's pretty simple - just look at what USAC says.

    In general, I'm not a big USAC fan either. More the organization than the rules themselves. And I don't like buying a license. But I do like the officials at my local velodrome, and that's USAC.
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  31. #31
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    If you have both bikes, you should look at each course (mtb or cx) and ride the bike that you feel is fastest on that course. I ride my mtb on cx courses sometimes. It has been said that a properly designed cx course will be faster on a cx bike, and I think a properly designed mtb course should be faster on a mtb.
    In my experience, I would get beat to hell on my cx bike on most mtb courses vs my hardtail mtb. Cx races are a lot shorter too; hammering on wet grass and mud for 50min vs up-down-up-down on roots/rocks/drops (being hammered) for 2 hours, my back always feels far more beat-up after mtb. I think a proper mtb course would break a lot of cx gear and flat a lot of skinny tires. But if the course looks good for a cx bike you should ride one.
    It is your obligation as a racer to bring whatever gear you think is fastest and is not forbidden by the rules.

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