Mud, sweat, and tears
November 8, 2010 8:31 AM   Subscribe

It's autumn, which means for some nerdy bike racers, it's cyclocross season. Cyclocross is an off-road cycling discipline characterized by short, hard, intense racing that requires skilled bike handling, running through mud or sand, and quickly dismounting, carrying, and remounting your bike to navigate obstacles. After all, sometimes, carrying your bike is just faster than riding it. In Europe, cyclocross draws huge crowds despite terrible weather, but it remains a niche sport in the United States, though with increasing popularity - perhaps it's because it's one of the few sports where rank amateurs can closely mingle with (and race the same courses as) top professionals. With the 2013 UCI Cyclocross World Championships to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, its popularity and domestic appeal is expected to continue rising. Previously.
posted by entropone (59 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the US and watched my first cyclocross race a couple of weekends ago and really enjoyed it. It was extremely accessible for someone who doesn't know a heck of a lot about the sport. I was surprised at the wide range of abilities of the people in the D race. If you're a mountain biker or a road person, you should try this.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:38 AM on November 8, 2010

Cyclocrosser Molly Cameron is sponsored by MetaFilter.
posted by grouse at 8:38 AM on November 8, 2010 [6 favorites]

Awesome post, but "skilled bike handling" links to the MeFi home page.
posted by maudlin at 8:39 AM on November 8, 2010

Man, CX looks like a lot of fun, I wish there were races closer to where I live. Looks like the closest will be 50 miles away in January.
posted by ghharr at 8:41 AM on November 8, 2010

Awesome post, but "skilled bike handling" links to the MeFi home page.

Oops. Too many links, not enough attention span for proper oversight.

Pardon me.
posted by entropone at 8:42 AM on November 8, 2010

Old School Cyclocross.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:43 AM on November 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

> Awesome post, but "skilled bike handling" links to the MeFi home page.

I don't see the problem here. Using MeFi well does lead to skilled bike handling.
posted by ardgedee at 8:49 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're in the western US and want to experience some of the best cyclocross racing and culture around, come to the 2010 National Championships in Bend, OR in December. Like bikes but not racing? Check out Cross Culture: Bike + Art Love during the championships.
posted by golden at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2010

(But now there's no link at all to "skilled bike handling", which means we're all gonna DIIIIIIIE .... )

I kind of crave a cyclocross bike just for getting around Toronto. Fast, tough, light: what's not to love?
posted by maudlin at 8:59 AM on November 8, 2010

Cyclocrosser Molly Cameron is sponsored by MetaFilter.

Cyclocross is MetaFilter's official sport.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2010

Thanks! I jogged through Cedarvale Park in Toronto on Saturday, while one of these was going on. I just figured it was called a "mountain bike race". There wasn't a huge crowd but I remarked to my wife when I got home, that it's kind of heartwarming to see people out contributing the time and effort needed to put together events like this.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2010

Also, perhaps my favorite video of all time, cyclocross or otherwise... Thanks, Cross Crusade and Portland International Raceway, for bringing on the mud.
posted by golden at 9:06 AM on November 8, 2010

This is the best post ever. :)
posted by mathowie at 9:20 AM on November 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


I should have waited and written more in my post, but for those who are intrigued by clicking through the links and watching the awesome nonsense in the videos, cyclocross is an exceptionally beginner-friendly sport. A little bit of practice goes a long way; a lot of bikes are modifiable to be acceptable for cyclocross. And there's no such thing as not good enough to start racing - even if you're last, it's still fun. People cheer for you and hand you beer while you race. If you're not last, there's always a race going on - you try to catch the person in front of you, or you try to go a little bit faster through a difficult section. And when you're done you wipe off the mud and hang out in the park for the rest of the day.

posted by entropone at 9:25 AM on November 8, 2010

A bonus to real world -- if you are a larger or heavier person, and yet, you want a go-fast bike,
cyclocross has begat frames that are tough enough to take the extra punishment that you'll dish out, but are still made to go fast. They're tougher and they have wider clearances, so you can put the wider tires you need onto them. But they're built to be strong, because you are racing offroad on them, and they're built to be light, because you will have to carry them in a race.

If you're a regular sized cyclist, they're overkill -- unless you do race cross. You'll want to put road tires onto them, and probably will want to change the gearing to be a bit higher, and you could even go a bit more weight-weenie by just getting a cyclocross frame and building it out with road components (you might need a mountain rear hub, though -- I honestly don't know if the frames are spaced 130mm for road rears or 140mm for mountain rear hubs.)

True cross bikes don't make good tourers or work cycles (no way to mount racks.) But they do let you get a much lighter bike for road work if you happen to be a heavier person -- and I'm talking guys in the 180lb range when I mean heavier -- true road bikes don't last long. This is why racers carry lots of wheels and lots of bikes. They don't need the bike to last a few years, they need it to last one race (or one stage!)
posted by eriko at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2010

eriko, a lot of low end (think $800-1,000 complete bikes) cross bikes do include fender/rack mounts and make good all-around bikes, and yeah they are essentially beefy road bikes with knobbies. I have a custom built titanium cross bike that I had fender mounts built into it so I could ride it all winter as my road bike and I eventually sold my carbon "summer" road bike and I just ride my cross bike year round with different wheelsets.

By the way, when I raced in Hillsboro yesterday, I heard my name yelled quite a few times from faces I didn't recognize. Maybe it was a bunch of MeFi members?
posted by mathowie at 9:56 AM on November 8, 2010

Metafilter's official sport is coming up with an excuse to link to Mathowie's Youtube channel in your FPP.

I hope you all are looking forward to my FPP on Reblog and broken iPhones!
posted by etc. at 10:05 AM on November 8, 2010

cripes eriko, I'm 200 lbs and I just bought a CAAD 10 roadie a few weeks ago. Don't tell me it's only going to last a few years!

Also, once upon a time if was difficult to tell 'cross bikes apart from mountain bikes, but these days with mountain bikes getting so weird (29" wheels? dynamically adjustable rear suspension travel?) 'cross bikes do indeed look like a great choice for an all-around bike.
posted by GuyZero at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2010

cyclocross is an exceptionally beginner-friendly sport

Definitely, yes. I did a cross clinic to learn skills and a race one weekend (on my MTB) and had an absolute blast.
posted by grounded at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2010

I had never heard of this sport until mathowie tweeted about a kleenex full of mud on Saturday. And now, boom, FPP about it too. How bout that.
posted by antifuse at 10:18 AM on November 8, 2010

GuyZero, your CAAD10 will last a long time. I know lots of people still racing the ten-year-old older-sibling of that bike. I think eriko understates the need for durability of racing gear. Sure, pros get stuff for free, but it's got to last the whole season. If something's got to get somebody to the end of one race reliably, it will probably get to the end of the season reliably. And for ordinary folks like you and me, it's really hard to destroy bike parts just by using them.

Also, yes, there are lots of midlevel bikes that make for fine commuters, tourers, and CX-racers. Bike companies do produce high-end CX-specific bikes, but slightly lower-down models tend to be decent all-arounders with fender and rack mounts.

Not to mention, lots of older road bikes can be converted to be CX-adequate, and many MTBs, too.
posted by entropone at 10:42 AM on November 8, 2010

New mayor in Ottawa (Canada) discovers cyclocross, not in a good way: bans it.
posted by partch at 10:46 AM on November 8, 2010

> True cross bikes don't make good tourers or work cycles (no way to mount racks.)

Surly Cross Check riders represent. This frameset is as true a cross bike as a true cross bike has to be. I doubt you'll see one at top-level tournaments because it's not carbon-fiber, but there's nothing in its specs that disqualify it from competition.

It's also one of the most versatile bike frames currently being made. I've never taken mine offroad for farther than needed to get between paved surfaces. It's currently rigged as a fixie with racks, fenders, and touring drops. I'd still be riding it daily if I hadn't upgraded to a Kogswell P/R last year (which is even nicer and more versatile, but it's not manufactured any more).
posted by ardgedee at 11:00 AM on November 8, 2010

Needs more cyclocrossdressing.
posted by schmod at 11:07 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jeremy Powers has a cool (and fun) video series called "Behind the Barriers" that gives an inside look at pro/elite CX racing.

(Disclosure, he lives with my kid sister and her guy, so if I'm breaking any rules here will one of the mods please delete this?).
posted by dolface at 11:13 AM on November 8, 2010

schmod, here you go:
posted by dolface at 11:16 AM on November 8, 2010

We have two cross series in SoCal, and the bigger (and more fun, in my opinion) of the two just had a weekend's worth of racing in Griffith Park. Technically, it was the parking lot of the Greek Theater, but you take whatever open space you can get. The course was twisty, sandy, messy and brutal as hell. I dropped my chain, skidded out, and it was enough for me to fall behind the pack and get pulled. I went back to my team tent, tended my road rash, and held out dollar bills for the rest of the racers to grab.

This weekend, I'm doing this crap all over again. And again. And again. Cyclocross is all the fun of dirt bikes combined with the aggro stupid of adulthood.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

bog trotters! huphup buttercup!

glad to see this FPP :)
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2010

No way, dolface, that's awesome you have a connection to JPow. I really like him and the Behind The Barriers series is fantastic (and I'm kicking myself for not doing the same thing with Molly Cameron starting this past summer). I genuinely like JPow, he seems like a nice dude and that really comes across in the videos. Some of the elite racer dudes can take that stuff too seriously *cough* TJ *cough* JP *cough* but Jeremy seems to really get how lucky it is he gets paid to ride his bike around in circles in the dirt.
posted by mathowie at 12:15 PM on November 8, 2010

no no, *this* is the best cyclocross video ever:

(his whole series has been great, I can't wait for the next one)
posted by kevin is... at 12:36 PM on November 8, 2010

My cross check got all stripped down and knobbified for a couple of cross races this year, after spending the first 5 years of it's life as a commuter and do-everything bike.

When I took it on a group road ride, I looked at people that were fitter than me on nicer bikes than me, and I felt under-equipped.

When I used it for a cross race.. who cares about the bike! it hurt the whole time, and was totally awesome. I came in dead last (twice), but I had no illusions about it being anything but me. Lots of room for improvement. My only consolation was that the 55+ yr old woman handily beat me in the first race only barely beat me in the second one.

Those were evening races though, and I haven't been able to motivate myself to wake up early enough and brave the cold of a morning race. (and my local races are only 10am for beginners, the big cross crusade races have the beginners racing at 8am!)
posted by kevin is... at 12:44 PM on November 8, 2010

also this link? pure awesome. I vividly recall the glorious olden days of Jungle Cross courses such as these. We did a State Championships race in Ohio back in... 1997 perhaps? that featured log crossings that were 3' and 4' high in a couple instances, due to an untimely windstorm, and the fact that the only available venue was an MTB singletrack trail that was damn nigh unrideable on skinny tires for extended stretches.

Sadly, the UCI and USA Cycling have taken pains to ensure that the species of course obstacle represented by The Bog in the above link (which they now would deem a "stunt", as in, verboten) would never actually appear in a sanctioned event again :(

Happily, Jungle Cross lives on in a wide array of unsanctioned events nationwide, but these days strict rules around features such as the barricades and width of the course, mandatory regulations regarding sand pits, lap length, the percentage of rideable vs. "forced dismount" terrain, all make a sanctioned CX event about as representative of a real day out in the woods as a canine agility course represents what an actual hunting or herding dog encounters in their daily course of work.

Which is all fine and well I suppose. Hell I used to compete in arena "trail" classes in equestrian events, which is equally non-representative of actual trail riding :P
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:53 PM on November 8, 2010

> New mayor in Ottawa (Canada) discovers cyclocross, not in a good way: bans it.

It may have been banned, but it had nothing to do with the new mayor (who hasn't even taken office yet.)
posted by valleys at 2:00 PM on November 8, 2010

Great post. I'm acquainted with Joan Hanscom, who is an ace promoter and who is at least partly responsible for bringing the Worlds to Louisville.
posted by fixedgear at 2:50 PM on November 8, 2010

I saw this on the front page and thought "Hey, cyclocross on MeFi! I wonder if m knows about this yet?"

D'oh. Super awesome first post, buddy.
posted by hippugeek at 2:53 PM on November 8, 2010

I love bikes and riding them. But where is the fun part in this? Carrying your bike? I prefer riding mine. Crashing? I prefer to never crash. Trashing your poor bicycle? This looks really hard on the bicycle victims. About the only plus I can see is the total lack of cars.
posted by cccorlew at 2:55 PM on November 8, 2010

But where is the fun part in this?

Where ISN'T the fun in this? Dude, you get to act like a 8 year old again, back when you'd ride a bmx bike in an abandoned lot off a jump while it rained cats and dogs. It's pretty much the same thing, you race around on the dirt recalling skills you haven't used in 20+ years and seriously, as an adult when was the last time you got this muddy?

It's really tough physically to do this, it's almost entirely anaerobic exercise for 40-60min but everyone universally kind of sucks at it, so there is loads of room for improvement, making it fun to watch yourself progress through the ranks as you get better equipment, technique, and training.

Also, if you've ever participated in bike racing before, a lot of it can be uptight with dudes taking it way too seriously even at the local level (like road racing, especially), whereas cyclocross welcomes any and all to the mix. There is beer, there are belgian fries, there is much good-natured heckling and support, and oh yes THE COWBELLS. I heard my name yelled ten times per lap yesterday while I raced around and it felt great. I had to hose my body off just to get the top layer of mud off.

The whole sport is a blast.
posted by mathowie at 4:04 PM on November 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

Thirding the Cross Check if you are a heavy rider, or are looking for a daily commuter that can also do cyclocross.

I bought mine when I was 190 pounds, and it served me great up to 230 pounds, plus a fully loaded rear rack and panniers. I ran it with full fenders and racks and 28 slick wheels most of the time, 32 knobbies when I wanted to have some fun in the mud.

Right now it is becoming a frankenbike with moustache bars and a giant porteur front rack, singlespeed on the back, broken rear derailer as chain tensioner, double chainring on the front, full fendered with milk bottle mudflaps.

CX looks exciting, but it is really for the hardcore masochist. My friend told me it would be 20 minutes of pure hell followed by a great sense of achievement. I broke after 5 minutes.
posted by Dr. Curare at 4:06 PM on November 8, 2010

OK, I just don't get why cyclocross bikes don't have flat bars and MTB-style brake levers. I mean, some do with a second set of levers up top, but why bother with drop levers at all? Other than tradition I'm a little confused why a straight-up MTB setup on the bars isn't preferable.
posted by GuyZero at 4:22 PM on November 8, 2010

Sure, the tradition is that they're modified road bikes, but also, there's enough variation of terrain on a course that the multiple hand positions offered by drop bars proves useful; plus, you get more leverage when your wrists are aligned as they are on hoods rather than on flatbars.
posted by entropone at 4:55 PM on November 8, 2010

You could run flats with bar ends like all the XC MTB kids do. I vaguely remember there being a bit of a stink 10 or so years ago when guys started to show up to cross events with a mountain bike and were able to ride most of the obstacles and hence win races, particularly as cross courses were getting tougher. Presumably on a properly designed cross course the ability to get down in the drops on the faster sections makes it worth it, and then make sure the obstacles aren't ridable no matter which bike you are on.
posted by markr at 5:24 PM on November 8, 2010

The magic of CX is the total range in the age of participants. Up here in Manitoba we have three year olds on push bikes doing an abbreviated version of the course, and then there's the guy who's over 60 making the 20 and 30 year olds go wtf. It's just a total party! And, contrary to what mathowie says, some people don't suck at it, at least not as much as I suck at it. Then, when you're done, there's fellowship & beer!
posted by kneecapped at 5:47 PM on November 8, 2010

Awesome post!

I've been racing on the road for almost 15 years, and got a cross bike (a Ridley) only last year. Cross is a stupid amount of fun, even if you suck at it as badly as I do. Dismount, what's a dismount? All my roadie friends and I laugh at ourselves before, during and afterward.

(I'll be at the Staten Island CX race this weekend; I'll be the one off the back.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:40 PM on November 8, 2010

Ahhh, I love 'cross. Been wanting to get a bike to race this season, but have been slacking...

*goes off to browse craigslist for 'cross bikes*
posted by inparticularity at 8:17 PM on November 8, 2010

this video has a great answer for why to do it - there are so many things that can go wrong and conversely so many things you can get right.

People can come into it with either the fitness or the technical riding skills and have a leg up - I don't have either, but on any given ride, I was always excited if there was a little bit of a trail or gravel road I could mess around on.

My first race was really exhilarating, I couldn't believe I was actually doing a bike race - in the last year or so I've lost 35 pounds from eating better and lots of riding, but it was hardly *fast* riding. I got passed by a lot of people - people who are older than me, people who are more overweight than me, but I finished! (in my second race, I stayed with the second slowest beginner for half the race before he got away from me!)

Since then I've been doing "cyclocross rides" - inventing my own little course with a little singletrack, a little gravel and a run up or two. I should be practicing barriers, but instead I just try to practice dismounting and remounting. It's such a great workout - climbing hills, there isn't much to distract me from how much it hurts to sustain a 90% heart rate, but when I'm on gravel or grass or singletrack, it seems to just hang out up there.
posted by kevin is... at 9:23 PM on November 8, 2010

This... this is something I didn't know about before and now desperately wish to try. Again and again. What is it I need to do to my crappy MTB to make it race-ready?
posted by carsonb at 9:51 PM on November 8, 2010

But they do let you get a much lighter bike for road work if you happen to be a heavier person -- and I'm talking guys in the 180lb range when I mean heavier

180lbs is heavier? What's that in real numbers...

I'll be over here, sobbing in the fat man's corner.
posted by rodgerd at 12:41 AM on November 9, 2010

Another Cross-Check rider representing! I'm running mine with an Alfine 8 speed internally geared hub.

And it handles my 200 lbs just fine.
posted by werkzeuger at 6:35 AM on November 9, 2010

Cyclocross is all the fun of dirt bikes combined with the aggro stupid of adulthood.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:40 AM on November 8

posted by youthenrage at 9:14 AM on November 9, 2010

Another Cross-Check rider representing! I'm running mine with an Alfine 8 speed internally geared hub.

That's kind of hot. Pictures?
posted by GuyZero at 9:45 AM on November 9, 2010

You could run flats with bar ends like all the XC MTB kids do.

no. no you can't. Forward facing handlebar extensions are expressly prohibited in any road or cyclocross mass start event. From the USAC cyclocross equipment page (can't locate the specific rules paragraph cite in the UCI rulebook at the moment and don't have time to search a 500+ page pdf...)

One other note: cyclo-cross is a mass-start race, and according to US Cycling Federation rules, bikes used in mass-start events may not have objects that protrude forward. This means no bar ends in USCF sanctioned cyclo-cross races. Remove them before race day and save yourself an unpleasant surprise at the start line.

Here's the link to the rest of that USAC CX Equipment page, for funsies:

Cyclocross: Equipment

Drop bars with topmount levers offer the best of both worlds anyhow, as anyone who's raced 'cross on skinny tires will tell you. You have hoods for leverage when accelerating out of the saddle, drops for added security, stability and carrying the bike, and topmounts for safely hammering through sand or heavy mud.

I also consider riding bumpy, technical descents in the drops to be vastly safer, but then, I was also the one riding behind a teammate when he broke a wrist on a dodgy descent because his hand slipped off the tops. Remember, you are riding a bike that is both squirrelier and stiffer (unsuspended) than an MTB, also your weight is further forward. Being in the drops lowers your centre of gravity and allows you to be a lot more nimble and stable in turns, etc. (this is one of the first rules I teach criterium racers too: always use your drops for anything that requires technical handling skill).

Drop bars also make it vastly easier to shoulder and carry the bike, owing to their configuration. And you will have to shoulder and carry the bike, probably multiple times per lap, so this is a crucial consideration. Having that easy "reacharound" position of the drop makes it effortless to swing the bike onto your shoulder and grab it in one flowing motion.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:38 AM on November 9, 2010

What is it I need to do to my crappy MTB to make it race-ready?

Nothing really, as long as it shifts smoothly.

One big thing no one mentioned in the thread is that there are cheap and sometimes free clinics at the start of the season (we're almost at the end of the season, but come next August-Sept keep your eyes open for them). The clinics are awesome for beginners because they break down each part of a race and show you just how to take slippery corners on your bike for like 30 minutes, then you work on dismounts and jumping barriers for 30min, then you work on climbing short hills fast for 30min, etc.
posted by mathowie at 10:39 AM on November 9, 2010

aha, here we go:

Rule 1M1 (d):

The handlebar ends shall be solidly plugged and attachments thereto shall be fashioned in such a way as to minimize danger without impairing steering. Handlebars used for steering with ends, features, or attachments that extend forward or upward or that provide support for other than the rider's hands are permitted only in time trial and pursuit events... [some track racing technobabble redacted]

and Rule 1M1 (g):

(g) A mass start bicycle is a road or track bicycle that is legal in all events within the road or track discipline, rather than a bicycle that is restricted to particular events. As an
example, a bicycle with handlebars offering forearm support is not a mass start bicycle.

Which is granted somewhat vague, but what they are doing is defining a "mass start bicycle" (and cyclocross is a mass start event) as one with no forward facing projections from the handlebars.

The UCI did revise the rules in 2010 to allow disc brakes in cyclocross, which had been prohibited since 2003. Time will tell if they catch on or not. One of the reasons 'cross bikes still use the "obsolete technology" of cantilever brakes is one of simple physics: Your tire contact patch on a 700x35mm tire is so much smaller than that of a MTB tire, that the leverage of both V-brakes and I would assume, discs, overwhelm the contact patch so rapidly that pretty much all they do is cause your tires to skid, which if you're looking for control on an already squirrelly skinny-tire bike, ain't the droids you're looking for.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:00 AM on November 9, 2010

I remember a couple companies (like Ritchie) used to make drop handlebars for MTBs that were significantly wider, and with shallower drops, than conventional road handlebars. Are there cross-specific handlebars like that? That configuration always struck me as being more sensible than flats anyway, at least for not-particularly-technical trail rides of more than a half-dozen miles.
posted by ardgedee at 2:03 PM on November 9, 2010

A little googling says they're On-One Midge bars. I dunno about those. I'd want a second pair of brake levers up top.
posted by GuyZero at 2:26 PM on November 9, 2010

GuyZero, do you mean a pair of "cross levers"?
posted by Dr. Curare at 2:43 PM on November 9, 2010

ardegee: you maybe thinking of something like the Salsa Bell Lap or else a straightup moustache bar.

One of the concerns with using a flared bar is the fact that you're almost always going to be racing in heavy traffic during some, most, or all of the race, depending on how big the field is and how long the lap is.

going full tilt 4 wide into the barricades with a set of moustache (or riser) bars can tend to make you... unpopular, let's say.

One of the things they specifically teach you in cross clinics is how not to hit other racers with your bike on the dismount sections. I have scars from people (that includes me) with messy bike shouldering technique.
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:53 PM on November 9, 2010

I can't help but feel some of those rules are an attempt to make people ride "proper" cross bikes rather than mountain bikes. I mean the whole "forward facing extensions" thing was to ban spinaci extensions in road racing, using it to prevent bar ends seems ridiculous. You can't hook anything with a bar end that you can't hook with an STI lever anyway.

Didn't the UCI ban flat bars entirely at the top level after guys like Thomas Frischknecht started using them in the mid 90s?
posted by markr at 7:18 PM on November 9, 2010

I can't help but feel some of those rules are an attempt to make people ride "proper" cross bikes rather than mountain bikes.

Bingo. They've never even made any secret about that. Cyclocross is a traditional sport, and they want to maintain the tradition.

As far as bar ends, not only did they mostly go out of style in like, 1994 for XC racing (well okay, there's a small crowd of hardcore Ergon grip fanatics, but a number of my peers have tried and failed to like them), see the above reasoning about both ease of shouldering, and getting entangled in your competition on dismount sections.

There's tradition and rules that drive a lot of the equipment choices, yes, but to some degree you also have to just trust that the specified choice of equipment does actually do the best job for the type of racing that this is. Otherwise, the elite level would use something different. I see nothing wrong with a beginner using a repurposed MTB to see if they'll enjoy it, in fact, "ride what you brought" is one of the mantras of my beginner CX clinics.

However, as someone who has raced this particular discipline since 1988, I can tell you what the most effective, efficient, safest, and least frustrating equipment to use actually is. You do see a lot of Salsa Bell Lap bars in Beginner races, but not so much once the guys get tired of hanging them up on random stuff. Practically everyone I know who races cross, including myself, has, at one time or another, chosen to try ANYTHING besides canti brakes, because they are noisy, crappy, barely work in the wet, and are a gigantic pain in the ass to adjust. Guess what? We're all back to racing on cantis.

There's a reason this stuff is used, and probably only 50% of that is "because that's the way we've always done it".
posted by lonefrontranger at 7:40 PM on November 9, 2010

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