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New to Cross, where to start


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#1 geo

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 03:51 PM

So back in college I dabbled in some unsanctioned road races and have been on and off road or mountain bikes for years since.  This year I have decided to make a concentrated effort on getting into racing and have set cross season as my goal.  I have the appropriate cx bike, but in general am  having a hard time finding any good online resource for new cross (and road for that matter) riders.  Throughout the forum I see info on training rides from previous years late summers, and falls,   as well as Big Shark's clinic in October.  Anybody care to point a newb in the right direction?  

Thanks in advance.

#2 itsthejash

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 08:06 AM

I did a few races over the past 2 seasons without any previous racing experience so I can somewhat relate. I would go find an open area and practice getting on/off the bike first. After that, hit up one of the local practices or go out and get a head start on your own.

The only local practice I went to was the one at FP, but I'm not sure anyone is organizing that this year. I haven't been out to that are of the park in awhile but I think the path is usually pretty well defined so you could follow it.

#3 geo

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Posted 30 July 2015 - 04:45 PM

I am familiar with where the practice track at FP is, of course now I moved farther away from FP.  Is there any easily spotted ones out in west county?  Browsing some forum pages it seems as if Castlewood is a likely candidate.

#4 reno.peterson

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Posted 31 July 2015 - 12:10 PM

Bangert Island in S.t Charles is some really good beginner to moderate single track that will really help some of your handling. It's right at 2 miles so close to track distances too. Bootleggers Run at the top of Crece Coeur lake area is good skills practice too.

Practice and study the dismount/remount drills. Lots if them online.

Also if you're on FB, check out the St. Louis Cyclocross Racers page. Could be helpful. Best thing to do is just register and do one, look into the Wild Track Bikes series in Alton(there's also a burned in a ad practice track there).

I did my first one 2 months after I'd been off one for 15-20 years!!! It was awesome!!! Just do it and dive right in!!!

#5 pylondesigner

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Posted 05 August 2015 - 06:44 AM

when September rolls around there are usually a couple of groups that get together mid week to do some hot laps and work on barrier skills, dismounts/remounts.  we usually stash a pair of portable barriers at the forest park course and set them up.  Watch the st. Louis cyclocross facebook page for announcements for what day and location.  I think the Momentum guys got something started in St.Charles last fall, and there was also a group that meet at Castlewood Park in West County along with the Forest park crew.  There are usually a few seasoned riders that show up that are more than willing to help you develop your skills.
Cheers, Dennis From St. Dallas

#6 cleeland

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Posted 07 August 2015 - 04:38 PM

In past years Jay Strothman has spearheaded the Castlewood practices. Perhaps others will help out?  They are good practices in my experience; you will be challenged AND you will be able to get help if you ask.  Don't go into either of them thinking it's going to be an organized clinic, though.

Also, for those who live in St. Chuck and IL, don't forget the really cool permanent course up at La Vista park.  Contact the WTB folks to get details on when people meet there, but it's open 24/7, 365 days/year.
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#7 geo

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Posted 10 August 2015 - 09:03 AM

View Postreno.peterson, on 31 July 2015 - 12:10 PM, said:

Bangert Island in S.t Charles is some really good beginner to moderate single track that will really help some of your handling. It's right at 2 miles so close to track distances too. Bootleggers Run at the top of Crece Coeur lake area is good skills practice too.

Practice and study the dismount/remount drills. Lots if them online.

Also if you're on FB, check out the St. Louis Cyclocross Racers page. Could be helpful. Best thing to do is just register and do one, look into the Wild Track Bikes series in Alton(there's also a burned in a ad practice track there).

I did my first one 2 months after I'd been off one for 15-20 years!!! It was awesome!!! Just do it and dive right in!!!


Is there a specific part of bootlegger you are referring to or the whole trail in general?

View Postcleeland, on 07 August 2015 - 04:38 PM, said:

In past years Jay Strothman has spearheaded the Castlewood practices. Perhaps others will help out?  They are good practices in my experience; you will be challenged AND you will be able to get help if you ask.  Don't go into either of them thinking it's going to be an organized clinic, though.

Also, for those who live in St. Chuck and IL, don't forget the really cool permanent course up at La Vista park.  Contact the WTB folks to get details on when people meet there, but it's open 24/7, 365 days/year.

Thanks for the info guys.  Yeah I don't expect there to be organized clinics (if I wanted one of those I would happily pay for it).  Just of experience with people patient enough to hint or tell me I am doing something ass backwards.  I have heard of La Vista, will have to go check it our during the weekend.  

View Postpylondesigner, on 05 August 2015 - 06:44 AM, said:

when September rolls around there are usually a couple of groups that get together mid week to do some hot laps and work on barrier skills, dismounts/remounts.  we usually stash a pair of portable barriers at the forest park course and set them up.  Watch the st. Louis cyclocross facebook page for announcements for what day and location.  I think the Momentum guys got something started in St.Charles last fall, and there was also a group that meet at Castlewood Park in West County along with the Forest park crew.  There are usually a few seasoned riders that show up that are more than willing to help you develop your skills.

I sort of abhor how every group is becoming more active on facebook rather than forums like these, and I am not even that old!  I will have to check them out.  Which area in castlewood is good for cyclocross-esque riding?

#8 zez

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 07:50 PM

I rode the dirt crit course in valley park with my 7 year old over the weekend. It reminded me a lot of Bangert and would probably be a blast on a cx bike.

#9 geo

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 08:31 AM

View Postzez, on 11 August 2015 - 07:50 PM, said:

I rode the dirt crit course in valley park with my 7 year old over the weekend. It reminded me a lot of Bangert and would probably be a blast on a cx bike.

I will google that of course, but where exactly is that?

*Edit* I found the park right off Marshall near Simpson and Greentree park, is there a source showing the course?  I don't see a map on GORC, which is my typical resource for mountain biking maps.

#10 zez

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 11:14 AM

Youjust keep driving until the road ends in a parking lot and youll see the trail in the woods

#11 geo

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 04:55 PM

How long is the loop, assuming it is a loop if used in crits?

#12 zez

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Posted 12 August 2015 - 05:27 PM

I think it was around 1.5 miles.


#13 skatemo

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Posted 23 September 2015 - 09:12 AM

I'm also interested in trying cyclocross and had a few questions...

1.  Do you need to have a USA Cycling Card to compete in the local cyclocross events?

2.  Is there a good place in West County - Faust, Creve Coeur, other - to practice?  I know I can take off through a grassy field, but I was wondering if there is a preferred spot that sort of has a mix of everything?

3.  Everything I read online talks about mud.  Do you walk away completely covered after most of the races, or is the mud more of a weather limiting factor?  The only reason I ask is because it seems like it would become a relatively expensive sport if you are completely soaked in mud after every race.  That begins to take a toll on clothing, equipment, etc.

Thanks for the help...

#14 cleeland

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Posted 24 September 2015 - 07:09 AM

View Postskatemo, on 23 September 2015 - 09:12 AM, said:

1.  Do you need to have a USA Cycling Card to compete in the local cyclocross events?
If the race is a USA Cycling event, then you need a license.  You may purchase a one-day at the venue, but there is a limit to the number of times you can purchase a one-day, plus after a certain number of one-days you would have paid for a license.

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2.  Is there a good place in West County - Faust, Creve Coeur, other - to practice?  I know I can take off through a grassy field, but I was wondering if there is a preferred spot that sort of has a mix of everything?
There are many good places in W. Cty, because CX races are held in some of those parks.  However, you'd have to know where to use.  It's not just riding in a grassy field most of the time.

Your best bet is to head to Castlewood for the semi-organized practices out there, or come to Forest Park.  At either of those you will have a staked-our course and a mix of experienced and beginner riders, all of whom are helpful if you ask.  They are not clinics, though, so you'd have to ASK for help.

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3.  Everything I read online talks about mud.  Do you walk away completely covered after most of the races, or is the mud more of a weather limiting factor?  The only reason I ask is because it seems like it would become a relatively expensive sport if you are completely soaked in mud after every race.  That begins to take a toll on clothing, equipment, etc.
Bike racing is not cheap, and, yes, CX takes its toll on equipment. Mud can be part of it, although mud requires water, and the Falls have been pretty dry in recent years.  I would actually take mud over sand any day of the week; sand just eats away at everything.

Rule of thumb: Don't run your "sunday best" on your CX bike.
Winner in absentia: '09 Moonlight Ramble

#15 pylondesigner

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Posted 25 September 2015 - 06:59 AM

Check out Queeny park.  rolling gravel hill trail on the north end of the park.  And there are also horse jumps to use as barriers, and you can use a log or two for dismount practice.  Al Foster side of Castlwood is also good for high speed handling.
Cheers, Dennis From St. Dallas