How to get started?
There is just one critical skill that you need to get started in this sport: learning how to quickly get on and off your bike. This may sound easy, but imagine doing it 40-50 times in a race with 100 other participants riding beside you.
To practice, locate a portion of a paved trail that meets a grassy area. Ride on the paved portion towards the grass, slow down, dismount, shoulder it, run 10 meters out and back, then hop back on your bike and ride. Learning to safely transition from biking to running is challenging at first but fun once you master it.
Since cyclocross takes place on both pavement and dirt, off-road riding skills are important but not crucial. Remember, you can simply run if a section is either too difficult to ride or beyond your skill level.
Of course cycling and running fitness are also important for this sport, but with most races lasting only 30 minutes, cyclocross is accessible to athletes of all fitness levels.
After a racing season of long road races and 5+ hour triathlons, cyclocross is a fun off-season challenge. You can use the sport to maintain your fitness during the winter, improve your riding skills for the following season, or simply do it as an excuse to ride your bike, get dirty, and have fun.
Hani Juha is an active adventure racer, triathlon coach, and co-founder of California Adventure Racing Association, a non-profit that helps promote teamwork and community through adventure racing.