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Guide to Cyclocross


Imagine sharp turns, technical obstacles, muddy conditions, and grueling battles. The first thing that comes to mind may not be cyclocross, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about. This unique discipline of cycling draws from all the rest. Sort of a black sheep of the cycling community - it’s not road biking, it’s not mountain biking, and it’s not exactly gravel. Races take place on closed, technical courses consisting of grass, dirt, mud, sand, and sometimes snow. Courses include steep banks, hurdles, tree roots, sharp turns, and other obstacles which often force riders to dismount and run with their bikes. The typical cyclocross season takes place from mid-autumn to winter, which helps create ideal course conditions. In a typical race, competitors start en masse and complete laps around 3 km long. Rather than a set number of laps, races are defined by time (usually 45-60mins) with officials on course to determine the number of laps it will take to complete the race.

cyclocross racing


Cyclocross may sound a lot like cross country mountain bike racing, but the main thing that distinguishes this sport from other cycling disciplines is the bike itself. Due to drop bars cyclocross bikes look a lot like road bikes, but there are many features designed specifically to help negotiate the demands of a cyclocross course. These include shorter frame reach for snappy handling, a taller bottom bracket to improve ground clearance, and lots of room around the wheels to prevent debris build up. Along with this comes knobby tires, disc brakes, and low gear ranges to aid on variable terrain. That being said, there’s no reason why you can’t race your road bike on a cyclocross course, especially if it has disc brakes. It just won’t be as optimized for the type of riding. 

Now that you know a bit about the bikes, let’s talk about some models offered at Guthrie’s that would be great for cyclocross racing.

Boone

Trek Boone

The Boone is Trek’s dedicated cyclocross race bike. Redesigned in 2022, it takes many cues from the Trek Madone, with streamlined tube shapes and control-freak cable routing for a cleaner and more aerodynamic look. The frame is composed of 600 series OCLV carbon fiber with IsoSpeed features on the front and rear for improved damping. Unlike other Trek models, the Boone is only offered in a single complete build option with Shimano GRX components, priced at $4,029.99. If you prefer a more custom option it is also available as a frameset. If you’re a dedicated cyclocross racer and want a bike that has the best features available to tackle the toughest of courses, then the Boone is the bike for you.

Shop Trek Boone 

crockett

Trek Crockett

The Crockett is sort of like Boone's younger sibling - it has a lot of the same features, but is a bit more versatile. A key difference is that the Crockett features an alloy frame and carbon fork that helps provide exceptional handling and agility. The Crockett is only offered as a frameset, giving riders the ability to build up the bike as they please. This also lends itself to great versatility, as this bike could be optimized for cyclocross, gravel grinding, or even as a commuter. At only $1299.99, you get an incredible amount of bang for your buck with the Trek Crockett. 

Shop Trek Crockett

stigmata

Santa Cruz Stigmata

The Stigmata is perhaps the most versatile bike on this list. Take it on gravel, pavement, cyclocross courses, and even singletrack and this bike is equally at home. A major feature of is its ability to accommodate up to 45mm 700c or 2.1” 650b tires, providing plenty of traction for any surface. Combine this with internal cable routing, snappy handling, a CC carbon frame and you’ve got a bike that’s ready to rumble. The Stigmata is offered in multiple build kits starting at $4599, so you’re guaranteed to find one that’s right for you. Santa Cruz is spot on with their description of this bike - “the road goes on forever and the party never ends”, and I’d affectionately refer to it as the mountain biker’s road bike.

Shop Santa Cruz Stigmata 

How to Get Involved

If you like what you’re reading and you’re getting stoked about cyclocross, there are a variety of ways you can get involved. It’s always a good idea to practice before entering a race. Learning basic techniques and skills like riding through mud, shouldering the bike, and hopping barriers can go a long way to help you perform your best and prevent injury. Here in Utah, UTCX is a phenomenal organization dedicated to cyclocross racing. They put on a plethora of races each year for a number of ability levels, so you’re sure to find one that’s right for you.

utcx logo

We know that it’s not always feasible to get an entirely new bike set up just for cyclocross, especially if you’re unsure if you’ll even like it. An easy way to start is on a road bike with disc brakes. Making simple tweaks like adding beefier tires and installing fenders can turn your bike into a cyclocross race rig in no time. If you’re not sure how to make these upgrades or if your bike is even compatible, come and stop by. We’re always happy to provide some guidance.