First cyclocross race at age 49

Especially for light weight issues concerning cyclocross / touring bikes & parts.

Moderator: Moderator Team

Posts: 35
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 4:48 am

by owen

Never to late to live the dream!

I will be participating in a (7) race cx series on Vancouver Island this September.
I consistently road bike 40km’s per day 5-6 days a week, on my Orbea Orca.
I have never grouped ride, I just typically go out and spin. Have an after ride expresso and cliffbar.
From what I’ve seen, I sense cyclocross will be about suffering, maxing out my heartrate, and getting muddy.
This is going to be a whole lot a fun in my mind.

1) How much running will I need for a base for racing cx?
2) How should I change my riding on my road bike and how should I start training on my cross bike?

I have a strong mountain bike background: circa 1992-2000 on my Merlin Ti and Rocky Mountain Blizzard.
Hardtails with rigid forks, so I learned how to find the best line on singletrack and do not feel this will be a weakness.
3) I have never dismounted on a cx bike before so not sure how to go about this. Lots of youtube video on this. Is it that easy?

Bike Setup:
I have a Ridley X-Night frameset (okay…baby boomer budget, but got a sweet deal on it at my LBS).
For the build I have a Shimano Dura Ace 7800 drivetrain and (2) sets of Easton EA90 Aero clinchers.
Both wheelsets have Shimano 6700 cassettes (12-25T)
I plan to use the existing 130mm crankset diameter so I will be limited to chainrings between minimum 38T and maximum 48T (Ridley chainstays).
4) What would be the best chainring setup?
5) Tires. I am NOT ready to invest in Tubulars this year, so what folding clinchers tire brands and models would be best for each of the (2) wheelsets?
6) What tire pressures for what terrians and weather conditions?

Besides questions 1-6, have I overlooked anything else? Thanks.

Posts: 216
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:23 pm
Location: Boulder, Colorado

by rockdude

2 Serotta's, 1 Spectrum, 1 Van Dessel, 1 Parlee & 1 Carl Strong, & 1 Titus.

by Weenie

User avatar
Shop Owner
Posts: 153
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 11:32 pm
Location: Jacksonville, FL

by maggierose

You will have a lot of fun with cross - enjoy it!

1. You won't need any running as a base. You will rarely run more than 20-40 feet at a time.
2. Ride your cross bike on the road to shake it down and get used to the riding position. If you want to be competitive, start doing intervals; ride on group rides that make you suffer; get a power-meter.
3. Dismounting well = practice. It took me a few races before I became accustomed to dismounting.
4. A cyclo-cross specific chain-set 46/38 and as big as you can get away with in the rear.
5. If you bought a cross specific carbon frame w/7800 you are ready to invest in tubulars. They are THE most important part of a fast set-up. If you want I'll even build you a set of wheels. You don't have to spend a ton but you have to spend something. PM for details.
6. Tire pressure is course and rider weight/style specific. You'll figure it out. Generally low to mid 30's for rear and a little less for the front.

7. Take your cross bike on some singletrack before your first race. It's good for the odd stare and lots of fun if you can pass someone on a "proper" mtb.

Posts: 227
Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:02 pm
Location: pittsburgh, pa

by mayhem

1) More is always better but don't worry about it. It's a 30 mins race for you so you don't need a lot of base.
2) Don't change your riding on your road bike. Start training for 'cross by throwing in some rides on your bike between now and then. After Sept NBC, nothing but 'cross

3)Yeah, there are youtube videos out there but there is more to it than that. Find your local cross practice and/or a cross clinic. Well worth your time.

4) 38/42, maybe 44. You're not going to use anything bigger in racing. And I'd highly recommend something higher than a 25 in back.

5) Get the Clement PDXs. They are superbe mud tires and do well in the dry. If you wanna go with two wheelsets get Challenge Grifos and the PDX's.

6) There's a lot that goes into that. Riding style, terrain, tire choice, body weight. ... is-mayhew/

7) Subscribe to Cyclocross Magazine and get any back issues you can. And, as I mentioned, find your local cross practice.

Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:00 pm

by Pirahna

I can't offer any advice, only encouragement. I've started mountain bike racing this year at 47 years old, it's hard but good fun. The only problem with racing in the vets class is that all the mediocre riders have stopped racing well before their 40th birthday, so your left with a field of very good racers. I'm looking for a cross bike to give it a go this winter.

Enjoy and write a quick report when you've done the race.

Posts: 35
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 4:48 am

by owen

Great feedback, thank you all...
There is some work ahead of me to prepare.

maggierose: picked up a set of tubular Tofu Cubus 700x32 tires. There are two LBS happy to build a wheelset for me.
What to get...hub, spoke, rims. $750 budget max.

mayhem: just ordered 38/44T fsa chainrings. Going to go to each race with one set of clinchers and tubulars.
The reviews on the Clement PDX are amazing. No LBS on Vancouver Island where i live sell them. Hmm...
BTW, just ordered CX Magazine.
Attempting to source a local rider to show me the ropes.
I just found out also the is an underground cx club that set up courses every week, and email us the night before on where to meet and ride.

piranha: nice to know at our young age it is all about meaning and not ambition. I don't care (okay maybe a little bit) if i finish last. It's about living the bike culture.

Just found out two top cx riders from europe are racing in Seattle this September. Road trip!

Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:05 pm
Location: UK

by megman

I rode my first cyclo-cross races last winter. Dismounting is not a problem, mounting while running takes a lot more practice. They bike I had bought came with a single chainring (42) and 13-26 (8sp) on the back. I found this too big for me and changed to 10sp with 13-29 pretty rapidly, but I was well at the back of the pack.

The race I did were 1 dry on grass, one on frozen fields and one with quite heavy mud. I only have 1 wheel set and used Vredestein Premiato tyres which were OK apart from in the heavy mud.

Did 3 races, great fun and will be entering more this season.

Posts: 817
Joined: Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:04 am

by liam7020

I started cross racing in my 40s and did it for a very enjoyable 3 seasons. Haven't had time in recent years but I'm thinking of giving it another go this fall. I'll be 50 in September.....!! Anyhow as one of the other lads mentioned you'll not need a lot of running but I would advise you to embark upon a good stretching regime especially for your calves and achilles which are 2 areas bikies usually neglect. I picked up a very nasty calf muscle tear in my 2nd cross season which put me off the bike completely for a month. Anyhow enjoy!
Belgian Flag S-Works Tarmac viewtopic.php?f=10&t=144553

"Sometimes you don't need a plan. You just need big balls." Tom Boonen

Posts: 659
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:50 pm

by voodoojar

It's all about mounting, dismounting and carrying your bike over stuff that and learning to ride on dirt, mud, grass and or sand. Get all that down and it's not different than riding your bike on the street. I'd also practice running up some super steep hills carrying your bike.

Posts: 35
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 4:48 am

by owen

Thanks Liam. My first race is Sept.11 and I have done zero running. I have just pulled my New Balance runners from the closet and will take your advice on stretching. Would you race full out from the start or stay at the back and slowing move up as the race progresses. Happy pre-50th!

Thanks Voo. I am finding the dismounting to be quite challenging and not smooth at all. My brake caliper arms (Avid Shorty Ultimates) have a massive wide open stance, and I am finding my leg is hitting one of the arms quite often. Very frustrating. I have mounting the bike down perfect and contribute that to my mountain bike era(circa 1991-2000).

New chain rings go on tomorrow. 38/44T (currently 39/48T)
New 90mm 6degree stem also. (currently 110mm)

Posts: 3915
Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2004 11:42 pm
Location: lat 38.9677 lon 77.3366

by rustychain

Go out and get your position as quick as you can. The first lap and last two are always the hard ones for me. Pre ride the course if you can. You can tell were the choke points are. You need to be as far in the front there as you can.
Having fun should alway be priority one however.
WW Velocipedist Gargantuan

Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2003 6:01 am
Location: british columbia, canada

by jimmy

Owen I'm in vic as well and also race a couple of cross nights. You should come out to OBB westshore on tuesday nights at 6:30we do a couple of hours cross/ adv type ride.
The underground cross isn't likley to start till early sept.
Pm me if you want to ride.

Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:14 pm
Location: D.C.

by fietser

Im interested in seeing how you do. I'm a 40 yr old novice cx racer too!

User avatar
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:22 pm

by trustnoone

Raced my first cx or race of any kind last week end. It's a huge amount of fun. The first thing I noticed is that the riders with experience (ie most of them) were gone. Their bike handling and racing out stripped me by quite a ways. I figure I lost 2 or more seconds a turn. There are lots of turns.

The only thing I would change from a largely stock set up this season is maybe a 12x28 rear cassette for the short steep technical pitches. Everything else such as tubs or tires can wait till next season. There were lots of high end bikes in the sport category in Edmonton. Impressive for a six week Alberta season. The Ridley won't be out of place.

Practice mounting and dismounting and mounting some more. Then shouldering and running. If getting the bike on the shoulder becomes second nature, you won't tire as quickly over longer stretches or sand. A couple of hours on this will get you started.

Velonews has some helpful videos on their front page under popular videos for cyclocross technique.

Go out and have a blast.

Posts: 35
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 4:48 am

by owen

I have raced in 3 local cross events. A few observations...It is easy to make mistakes when you begin to get tired on the final laps. For the most part i stay in 44t. When overtaking other riders, i'm way to late on my brakes in the turns and there has not been a real flow to my riding. I have started to approach the turns wider now. I'm much more fluid now and not trying to punish the bike. The atmosphere is fun and riders having been very friendly. Way different than the roadie crowd.

by Weenie

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Last post