I raced road for most of the early spring. Criteriums mostly, I figure that's as close to 'cross as you can get. I'm being crazy though and not racing through the summer so that I can "train" for 'cross starting in June. I'm flipping my racing season around to start with 'cross in October and race all the way through spring road races in the end of April.
I did a road race this year. It was nice and cordial but I think I will stick to the mud. I have been training with all the roadies though which has improved my overall fitness. I've set out to have a massive base built this year before getting cross specific. So far so good.
I raced MTB last year but it sucked the fun out of my summer. If you're looking for the extra lap, try getting a SingleSpeed and racing twice a day. It'll really really hurt, but after a couple weekends you'll start feeling great. I went from a 4 to a 2 in one season on that plan, AND I got to race more than 30 minutes.
I rode singlespeed exclusively for years when I was doing enduro, but found I lacked speed because of it.
I've got three road races and an XC race under my belt this Spring and feeling good about the coming season. Just one extra lap at the cross races is all I need.
The older I get, the longer it takes me to recover from hard efforts. I'm racing the seven-week short-track xc series that's basically in my backyard (starts late June), and then taking a little break in early September (during the Jewish High Holidays it is really hard for me to get in quality time on the bike outside of daily commuting, so I dial back the intensity a few notches during that time). I'll do some pre-season clinics in the latter half of September and maybe a little warm-up race. Cross Crusade begins first Sunday of October and then it's pretty much a wild (and hopefully muddy) ride all the way to USGP-Portland Cup. (I MAY go to CrossNats but only as a spectator, budget depending.)