A Road Cyclist Enters the World of Cross Bike


Over the past few years, cyclocross has continued to grow in popularity and this type of cycling has definitely grabbed my attention.  But until now, it has always just been something that interests me.

All over the world, there are road cyclists making the move to cross bikes (aka cx or cyclocross).  Some get into the racing side of things, while others ride non-competitively.

One of the reasons for my interest in cx is their versatility and similarity to road cycling.  Cross bikes have some of the geometry and aerodynamic benefits of road bikes, but take wider tires and are rugged enough for off-road and touring use.

I’ve always been intrigued by cx, but ever since getting to Grenada and living with the road conditions….I’ve been even more interested.

I know I’m not the only road cyclist out there wanting to give cx a try, so this post is intended to serve as a resource for all of you looking to do the same thing.  We’re not going to tell you what cyclocross cycling is, but instead provide you with the information you need to enter the world of cx.

I’m just about to step into the muddy path of cyclocross, so I’ve asked Ashley Irving and Karen Lynn to help create this content for road cyclists getting into cx.  Be sure to check out their bio’s at the bottom of this article.

First steps for getting into cx:

Get a Bike – Yeah, you can’t get too far without first having a cx bike.  If buying one isn’t an option at first, see if you can borrow one from a friend so that you can see how you like it.  Otherwise, buy a cross bike and get riding. Do I really need a cross bike?  In my opinion, I think it’s necessary to give you the full effect….but Karen says “not necessarily”.  You can start off with a mountain bike.  They are perfectly legal to race with, as long as they are sans bar ends.  Mountain bikes are heavier and less elegant than a cross bike, but they hold up well on the varied terrain and are usually easier to get your hands on (especially if there is already one in your garage).  But, if you can borrow a CX bike and it fits you, it’s a great opportunity to get accustomed to the slightly different bike geometry. Core – The core section of your body is going to get worked more than it does on a road bike….especially if you get into cross racing.  So start whipping that core into shape. Dismount and Carry - If you’re going to get into cx racing, you’ll want to practice your mount, dismount, and carrying your bike while running. Obstacles are a big part of cyclocross racing and something you definitely wouldn’t be accustomed to on a road bike.

Cyclocross Obstacles

Biggest differences from road cycling:

Ashley says that one big difference between road and cx racing is that drafting isn’t really a thing unless it’s a very fast trail.  Also if you’ve never ridden a mountain bike before, be prepared to always wonder if your tire pressure is too low.  My first few rides felt like I was riding on a bouncy ball, but nope, that’s normal.  Another big difference is you need to trust your bike more than on the road.  When I first started I got very nervous riding over anything that wasn’t pavement because that’s what I was used to. Now it’s the opposite…I have to remember I can’t ride over certain things on my road bike.

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