Cyclocross racing as training


May 17, 2006
Didn't see much on cyclocross in this thread. I've started racing again and figured I would start in Cyclocross because falling down sucks a lot less and the vibe (in the US) is much better. Interested to hear how any road riders alter their training to compete or ride in cyclocross.

As an aside, these races are fun as hell. They start on time, done within 45-55 minutes, you don't need the most expensive equipment to compete, and its about as hard a 45 minute interval as you can possibly ride.

The only downside is that in the Cat 4/5 division, you've got a lot of really young fit racers who like to ride in the first race of the day and are really too fast for this group. I know that you can cross qualify for a higher Cat in cyclocross by converting points earned in road or mountain, but not all of them do it and some of these kids are screaming fast. I am basically competing against my 22 year old self.

Still fun. I do see I am losing at least three minutes at least at the start with the bunch up at the start and the first two laps working my way to the group riding my pace. Each one of my laps got faster
Why not race track or MTB instead?
In SE PA, MTB involves lots of rocks. If (or when) you fall, you land on rocks. At 50, after 30 years of riding on rocks, I'm tired of falling on rocks. At least with cyclocross, mostly on grass fields, the mishaps are less painful. I am honest about my abilities to admit that I am an average bike handler in the rocky woods. When I rode with enduro riders on dirt bikes, I realized that there are folks who are true wizards on two wheels in the woods--I am not one of them. I make up time on mtbs on long climbs and lose time on hairy rocky descents. I still love to mtb, but racing at 85-90% of your ability means that you are going to fall, and when it happens, it hurts at my age in our terrain.

I never rode in a track race. The only nearby velodrome is outdoors and located about an hour away. It's intriguing. Again, as I get older, I get less tolerant of being right on somebody's wheel and bunched up in a tight pack. Once upon a time, I did it with no fear or concern or all. Going down sucks, and if you are not perfectly relaxed and comfortable, you are more likely to over-correct in a tight paceline. When the groups get too big on the road, even during club rides, and some of the riders get reckless or careless, I start to worry about falling. At the risk of repeating myself, it really sucks to fall at age 50, much more than at age 25.

For me, cyclocross was a nice way to ease back into racing without mistakes bearing a big cost in terms of layoffs due to injury. I did feel very comfortable being in tight groups on grass and didn't mind the bumps and contact at the start and near certain obstacles. The speeds are pretty forgiving.

In other words, I am becoming more and more of a scared ***** as I get older. I'm also more conscious of traffic and the cost of getting laid up by a significant crash. It made me give up dirt biking about two years ago after I was racing across a dry lake bed at around 100 mph in Nevada with my kids and thinking "WTF and I trying to prove out here, I hit something wrong or miss a deep fissure and I'm dead or paralyzed." I rode my dirt bike another three times out East, and fell taking a fast curve in the mud, landing on rocks, and just said, "I'm done." Once upon a time, all of that was great fun, and the bumps and bruises were just part of the game.

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