Despite promising an hour’s worth of pain-inducing sprints, demoralizing obstacles, and unrelenting competition, the sport of cyclocross is exploding in popularity. The courses, usually about two miles long, combine stretches of paved tarmac with lots of off-road terrain such as sand pits, sections of grass, stairs, shin-high barriers, and mud. Lots of mud.
A true cyclocross bike looks like a typical road bike, but fatter, knobby tires handle off-road sections much easier, frames are stronger to take more abuse, and the rider position is more upright to make navigating the course a bit easier. While a pure-play model is the ideal weapon for racing, upgrading your current road bike or mountain bike is an easy and less expensive way to test the muddy ‘cross waters before you purchase a new bike. Here are six tips.