A Road Cyclist Enters the World of Cross Bike

Karen says that one of the very different aspects of cyclocross compared to road cycling is how disruptive it is.  Road cycling is often a long steady effort.  Cyclocross courses are designed to keep you sprinting, braking, turning, dismounting, shouldering, running, remounting, climbing, cornering, and sprinting again.  Courses can be technical and will change over the course of a lap, meaning you have to pick new lines each time, explore new ways to get over that rise and then slam into a hairpin turn through 4 inches of soft sand.  This is what I have found people love most about the sport.  It requires fitness, technical skill, and good, quick decision-making. There are a hundred decisions to make each race and mistakes will be made. Part of the game is making the right decision at the right time, and making a few mistakes as possible.  One wrong choice can set you back 10 places or more.  This is part of the fun.

Challenges that road cyclists have with CX:

Road riding is usually long distance endurance, which is great, but cx is more about shorter efforts with a lot of intervals, so you need to train what you’re riding for.

Ashley’s Top 5 Tips for road cyclists getting into CX:

  1. As with any sport, go practice. Join the local CX rides or races and just ride. Every CX course is different so you’ll want to have experience with different terrains and conditions to draw upon later on.
  2. Get a proper fit on the bike. With CX you can sometimes have a vastly different frame, and you’re going to want to sit a bit more upright. With a sport this punishing, you’ll want to make sure the bike isn’t working against you. Case in point, my road bike is 49cm and my CX bike is 46cm.
  3. Practice all aspects of the sport, from dismounts to remounts and carrying the bike over obstacles.
  4. Find other people to ride CX with: A - it’s way more fun to tear down a trail with a buddy, and B – it’s a bit safer in case something happens in the woods.
  5. Start working on your core. During the road season you may not have done this much, but it’ll help immensely with cyclocross.

Bonus: It’s never too cold or muddy or rainy or snowy to ride a CX bike. It’s the most versatile bike you will ever own and you’ll find yourself riding it all the time.

Thanks to Ashley and Karen for their help on this post.

Ashley Irving is one of our Loving the Bike teammates and also runs her own cycling blog at aerochick.  She like all types of cycling, but definitely finds herself on a cross bike quite often.  In fact, she just recently moved from the Boston area to Penang, Malaysia and has her cross bike there with her.

Karen E. Lynn is an avid cyclist, a single mom, a full time marketing professional, and an entrepreneur. In 2012, she founded Sip, Clip & Go! Coffee - an eCommerce business focused on gift coffee just for cyclists.  She also co-founded the Sip, Clip, & Go! cycling blog in 2007. After 13 years of riding mountain and road bikes, and watching cyclocross races safely from the beer tent, she dared herself to try a CX race “just one time.”  She has been hooked ever since.  She lives in western Massachusetts.

Photos c/o cxmagazine.com

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  • http://www.texasmountainbiketrails.com/ Shawn McAfee

    Super cool! I can’t wait to try my first CX race here in a month or two. I think it is going to be a tremendous amount of fun, but I’m also positive that I will be deadset on buying a cross bike after lugging my heavy full suspension MTB around the course for a month or two.

    • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Yeah, totally. I really need a cross bike as well. I’m looking forward to hearing how your race goes.