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I'm participating in my first ever bike race this weekend. It's a cyclocross race, and I'm riding a full suspension mountain bike, because I started looking into races late this season and a fully is what I've got. Is there anything specific to know/look out for since I'm not riding a cyclocross bike? Thanks!

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    My first this weekend too. It should say on the info sheet if they allow mountain bikes. – paparazzo Oct 28 '14 at 21:46
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    It said that they only allowed bikes with tires smaller than 33mm, but I emailed the organizer and he said that was only for the pro race, so I'm good. Good luck! – TheAtomicGoose Oct 29 '14 at 0:23
  • Unconstructive comment: mixed bike races are the most fun ever. Why did MMA catch up? Because it shows Aikido vs Muay Thai is ... not fair. Same for bikes! – Vorac Aug 2 '20 at 17:13
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Many first time cross racers use a mountain bike. It makes perfect sense, don't go out and spend $1500+ before you even know whether cyclocross is your cup of tea. Most all races allow mountain bikes, the only type of equipment that's usually forbidden is a fixed gear.

A full suspension mountain bike will do just fine as an introductory race vehicle. Your primary setback is that it's heavier than a cross bike, so it will slow you down when carrying it up a steep incline, or carrying it over the barriers, etc. But, those beefy ( and heavy ) tires might carry you through the mud quite nicely, maybe even putting you at somewhat of an advantage in a muddy beginners race.

Just be friendly and courteous out on the course, cyclocross is about having fun.

  • Ok, thanks! Yeah, I have 2.25" tires...those should do pretty well in mud. It should be a lot of fun. – TheAtomicGoose Oct 29 '14 at 0:23
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    Worth noting mountain bikes used in USAC sanctioned CX races cannot have bar ends installed on them (rule 1I1d.) – Glenn Stevens Oct 29 '14 at 6:04
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CX is often about carrying your bicycle as much as your bicycle carrying you. When carrying a bicycle on one's axle, its aero properties do not play any role, I would guess, while its weight does.

Man carrying CX bike

CX bikes are actually designed so that they can be carried in a specific efficient manner (pay attention to how the man above holds the handlebar). A larger front triangle without any bosses or cables on the top tube to touch. An MTB frame, especially with full-suspension, may have a very tight front triangle, and will definitely have more weight.

Compare typical front triangles:

CX frame

versus:

FS frame

If there will be barriers on your course, you will have to carry your bike (the barriers are usually organized in such a manner that one cannot bunny-hop all of them). Make sure you can lift your bicycle without busting your back, or tangling in it and falling.

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Being a CX race, I expect it to consist of mostly asphalt and dirt roads. In those circumstances air drag plays a huge role (it is proportional to the square of velocity). Thus do learn to lean onto the handlebars. I can't produce a picture right now, so I'll describe it.

Sit firmly. Your ass and legs are supporting you. You hands observe zero push and zero pull force from the handlebars.

Use the outside surface just below the elbow of both arms. Rest it onto the center of the handlebars, much like a TT racer.

Voila! You have a road racing posture on a mountain bike! The rest you will handle with ease.

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    I buy the saying that aero is everything, but CX courses tend to be a lot of grass, mud if wet, and sometimes sandpits just for fun. The paved road sections are minimal, if they're present at all. – Weiwen Ng Aug 2 '20 at 18:13
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    From Wikipedia: "races .. consist of many laps of a short (2.5–3.5 km or 1.5–2 mile) course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount". It mentions pavement, but the majority of the track length is not it. – Grigory Rechistov Aug 2 '20 at 23:06

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