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I subscribed to Cyclocross magazine last year with the hopes of entering a few races this year, however last December I had to have major hip surgery and never got to with recovery. So I'm going to start training again next week and hope to do something next season.

 

I'm overwhelmed at the thought of where to even begin. Can anyone offer any advice on how a newbie can get started? What's the best way to learn the skills, training tips, some basic equipment that I should be concentrating on? I did a bit of research before my surgery, but feel like I'm starting over. I love to ride, I like the challenge I see with cyclocross, find it to be exciting and something I would enjoy, and would like to just try a few times. I should add, I'm 36 now, so am I starting too late? 

 

All newbie questions I know, but any help is appreciated.

 

Much thanks!

 

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Find your local 'cross practice. That is by far the best way to get started. Obviously they're not going on right now but find out who runs them. Maybe you can ride with them some and pick up some tips and info and then show up in the fall.

 

There's a ton of info on the internet. Start looking around. Here is a good place.

 

CX Mag is way rad. It's the best bike mag I've seen in years and years. I consider it a professional obligation to subscribe.

 

I'd read anything you can get your hands on regarding Adam Myerson.

 

Start watching the Euro races. They are on almost every day right now and certainly every weekend for the next month. You can learn a ton by watching.

 

Obviously it sounds really self serving but maybe think about getting a coach. Not so much for a training plan but for advice about things. Unfortunately to some extent coaches have taken over the role once served by the guy in your local club with a wool jersey. 'Cross is the last area where that hasn't happened as much but it's worth thinking about if your local practice isn't that great.

Are you coming at this from some experience with road cycling?  I think that's the best place to start.  The history of 'Cross is basically pro roadies keeping their skills sharp in the off-season.  Road riding will give you fitness, bike handling skills, group dynamics understanding, and the knowledge of how to suffer.  A 'Cross bike is basically a road bike with larger tires.  Mountain biking is helpful too, especially building confidence in handling uneven terrain.

Once you become experienced, you'll find a lot of the road/mountain skills transfer over. 

If you're already an accomplished cyclist, you'll have no problem on a cyclocross course.  You'll want to practice first obviously; taking your 'Cross bike out to a non-technical mountain bike area was helpful for me.  36 isn't too old, btw.

And make sure you consult your surgical team before taking on any sport that has some physical risk.

 

Thanks both of you for your helpful comments.

I will check into this. I ride both mountain and road, with an emphasis on endurance races and rides. But first I need to get back into shape.

My surgeon cleared me for all activity. Hip is good to go (albeit with five huge screws in it now) but I was cleared to do whatever my body lets me. I can't mess it up again. Of course, I can mess up the other side, but that's pretty much a given I've been told. It's going to happen sooner or later.

Thanks so much for responding. For the first time since my surgery I'm really excited to get back on the bike and start training again. I guess I'm just jumping out the gate and need to really take it one step at a time.

Thanks again!

 

 

As for age, don't sweat it. This was my first year racing and at 43, I'm a bit ahead of you. I did see that Nats had a Masters 75+ catagory, so I figure tha tI have about 25 years to get it right.

 

Equipment, don't sweat it. Want to try it on your mountain bike? Go ahead, you won't be the only one. Don't worry much about embrocation or tubular tires yet. If you're looking at a 'cross bike, ride a bunch and find one that you like the best. It's that simple.

 

Skills? As you are already a bike rider and have some base training, I'd say practice dismounts and remounting. That is where I see a lot of other beginners stumbling. If you get the chance, practice some run-ups.  The others here have also outlined some great ideas.

 

The biggest thing is, just get out, ride and HAVE FUN. Try it. Without the FUN part it gets to be a terrible drag. I thougth I'd be way off the back as I didn't get a lot of base training in during the year but I did pretty well. Most 'cross races are VERY open to beginners so you probably aren't the only one. And really, I never thought I'd have so many people encouraging me every lap.

 

See you out there!

Too late? At 36? OMG, you have PLENTY of time. I started two years ago at age 46, with middle-aged spread and a cheap, cobbled-together singlespeed mountain bike. I finished last in nearly every race, crashed a couple of times, and still had the time of my life. How do you start? By starting. Find a bike. Take it to your local park and play on the grass. If there are barkdust-covered paths, ride those too (watch for pedestrians!). Look around for vacant lots with dirt or mud and ride through those. Cyclocross is simply a playdate for you and your bike, and a cyclocross RACE is that playdate shared with lots of other people and their bikes. Go and enjoy!
I just started last season too, with really just a lot of bike commuting under my belt and older than you. There was a 1/2 day clinic in Chicago in the late summer. That helped a lot. I wish I had stuck around for the advanced second half of the day even though I was a rank beginner. Other than that, I can second just about everything that's been said so far -- the bike probbly doesn't matter that much, there are a lot of technique videos on the Internet, videos of pro races, learn a few things and practice in a local park that ideally has some hills, find a shop that specializes in cyclocross and ask about practices, get your lungs, core, and legs in shape, AND just get out and race and have fun! I don't think you'll regret it.

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