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Hey all, I am new to the sport and am looking for a bit of advice.

So here is the break down, I am not exactly a very fit guy, so I am picking this up as an objective to get me more fit, and improve my stamina before the ski season. I also hope to compete in an event or two in Michigan come September/October.

As for training, I have been reading the articles on the site and am working on shaping my own training program, and that isn't where the issue lies.

My problem is, gear. I just don't understand it. I have a 2007 Specialized Tricross Sport that I just bought new from a local bike shop. Now I am at the point of figuring out what kind of pedals, shoes, and other upgrades I need. Is there a distinct advantage, at the lowly level of a pure newb, to running pedals such as the Eggbeater SL? Or, for the early level of training am I fine in just normal (none clip in) pedals, and should be fine getting them in, say, late July/August, or even not getting them at all. Is there some resource explaining how these pedals work and what kind of shoe they are compatible with?

Other than that, is there anything you can think of that needs to be changed, or that I need to consider? Is it legal to wear hydration packs during the race?

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zach, welcome to the sport. you'll love it. soon skiing will be a way to stay active when you're not doing 'cross.

clip-in (also called clipless) pedals will make you more efficient, and after the learning curve, believe it or not, safer. your feet won't bounce around so much, and when it gets wet and slippery, your feet will stay on the pedals instead of slipping off at the worst moment. plus, cycling shoes in general tend to be much stiffer, although you could go with cycling shoes on flat pedals.

there really are 3 main pedal types - we have an upcoming piece in a future mag on them, but crank brothers, shimano, and time are the main pedals of choice. I have used all 3 - i'd say egg beaters and time are great if you plan to ride in the mud a bunch, and shimano are adjustable and perhaps provide the most feedback in terms of actually being clipped in.

the best thing you can do now is get used to your bike off-road, and find a clinic or some experienced guys to ride with that can show you 'cross pointers. there are a few good videos out there - cycle-smart has one specifically on technique:

I'm a big fan of good tires - that might be a worthwhile upgrade but I"m not sure what came with your bike. most newbies go too high on pressure. can i ask what you weigh or is that too personal?

we soon will have more resources online for folks like you, but this forum that you've found is the best place to get advice from die-hard friendly 'crossers.

just curious - how'd you find the sport? what interested you in it, as opposed to road or mtb?

good luck.
Alright, I'll answer in reverse order here.

How I found the sport, was, through a friend. He is a former Specialized rep and a couple of years ago I was going to start looking for a bike to replace my Hardrock, as I was basically riding only on the road and there just wasn't a point to a mountain bike. Decided a decent road bike wasn't quite practical enough, so my friend recommended a cyclocross bike. The biggest advantage being that I can ride the shoulders of the roads if I need to and not worry about it. From there, it was just me researching about the type of bike.

As for weight, I am about about 195/200lbs and my goal is to be down to about 180/185 by September. Height is 6'. As for what tires they, are, I am not sure. I would have to check tonight.

And I am not planning on too much mud until the races, and even then, maybe only one or two races a year (closest one is currently about 4 hours away). So perhaps Crank Brothers Candies? The entry system on the egg beaters is what got me interested in them, and I thought you had the four way entry on the candies. The only thing I don't like is that, this being my only bike, I would have to wear special shoes to ride. And sometimes its just nice to be in street shoes so that I can do other things than ride the bike. And I have heard the combo flat/clip-in pedals aren't all that good for quick clip-ins.

And as for clinics, I would have to travel a bit for one. And as far as I know, there aren't any experienced Cyclocrossers up here. But I could be wrong. Just haven't met any. So I might wait till next year to do a clinic.

There was talk at the shop to possibly starting a series up here, but we will see if that ever comes to fruition.

Thanks for the pointers though.
Welcome to the sport Zach,
I'm a CX noob too, but I've been road and Mt. bike racing for 12 or so years. I helped my father get pedals fpr his road bike last year, and we decided on Candies. I run eggbeaters on my Mt bike and the CX bike I just built. The shoes I got my father were nice Shimano (I can't believe I just put those 2 words together :D ) walking shoes that had a place to mount the cleats on the bottom, but are comfy to walk in and look like sneakers. He loves the new pedals after using cages all these years. Personally I have a set of Peral Izume Mt. bike shoes and I use them to run errands in all the time. These shoes are the best shoes I've ever owned period, and not just bike shoes. They make a bit of noise but Mt. bike shoes are made to run in so walking around isn't really awkward at all. I would think waiting until this summer to get a set of shoes and pedals would be fine. Also I am pretty sure that there are plastic inserts that clip into crank brother pedals that turn them into regular pedals and you can just take them out for the serious rides. But you'll get hooked on the clipless pedals pretty quick and will make the sacrifice of carrying reg shoes with you.
Hope that helps,

Thanks for the input. It does help. I am probably going to end up with Mt. Bike shoes, just have to find the right pair. But thank you for confirming that it is alright to wait a bit. And I hope you are right on the adapters from Crank Brothers.
Sidi shoes are super comfy, but a bit pricy depending on the model. Also check Specialized, you buddy may hook you up there, also a very nice shoe. I would say mountain for walkability (like drinkability but not as cool) and is you are doing any cross races, a road shoe just won't cut it. I have eggs and candies. Candies are a little bigger, but help with avoiding the hot spots some riders get in there feet from the regular eggs.
This is a great place. As questions come up, shoot 'em here. Everyone is very helpful and the banter is pretty comical too. Welcome to the club!!!
if you don't think you'll do much mud, and ride a lot on the road, I might lean towards saying try the shimano spds. either way, you can't go wrong, but the in/out release is super positive so being your first set, there will be no question that you're in, plus you can set the initial tension to be quite easy and tighten it up as you get more aggressive.

the candy/smarty system does have the platform, and I like it for mud clearance and weight, but the downside is because the 4-sided pedal can rotate in the body, it's not like it's always in the same position as opposed to a 2-sided pedal like time/shimano.

def. don't go with the one sided platform/clip pedal if you're thinking of trying 'cross.

at your weight, go with wide tires...see if you can get yourself a copy of CXM's issue 3- we reviewed two dozen 'cross clinchers with real measurements.

good luck and have fun.
Thanks all for your input. I was over at my local shop, and he had some Pearl Izuma shoes on discount, so I picked those up. He also happened to be a crank brothers dealer, so I had him put on a set of eggbeater SL.

Well, I went for my first ride later that day. And after spending 10 minutes trying to clip in, I got it, then practiced clipping in and out. Then I went and road about two miles one direction, then stopped as I was freezing (prolly in the low 40s and a nice wind going). Well, when I stopped, I released the right foot first, only I fell over left. So yeah, I need to practice getting out of those pedals.
I think we all have one or two "falling over" happens. Just don't break anything!

I'm in Michigan too...if you're looking to try a race check out:

I'm a bit partial to the Ithaca race...but I'm biased. When you say there aren't many 'crossers "up here" are you in the UP? There are a few in the central area and a ton on the east and west sides. My e-mail address is on the ithaca page (in the about me section) so feel free if you have questions!

Glad you're picking up 'cross!!! Good luck this year!
I'm in Northern Lower, in the Petoskey area. Used to live in Marquette (college), but sadly, no longer.

I was looking at the Tailwind one earlier, as it was the only race series I found. I'll be looking into it more in the fall, but the goal is to be fit enough to race this year. That is the goal anyways, we'll see if I can make it.


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