1. A Bike: In order to take part in a local cyclocross race, you just need a bike that can be ridden reasonably well off-road, like a gravel or mountain bike, (although I have seen road bikes, BMX bikes, townie bikes and bike share bikes in CX races). A true cyclocross bike is best, because it is designed specifically for that application with a light frame ideal for lifting over barriers and shouldering up run-ups. Many CX-specific rigs even have top tubes that are flatter underneath to make it more comfortable to carry while it rests on your shoulder when you’re using proper ‘cross technique.
Cyclocross bikes are also designed to be quick-handling for all of those tight corners, they have short wheelbases and high bottom brackets for maneuverability and good ground clearance. They also have lots of space between the frame and the tires, so the wheels keep turning, even if they’re caked in mud, because in cyclocross racing, there will be mud! They feature powerful brakes for the quick pace changes required and a wide range of gears to cover everything from the start/finish straight to short, steep climbs.
PRO TIP: A true ‘cross bike’s tires cannot exceed a width of 33mm and are actually measured on the start line at competitions in the higher categories. Tire width rules are generally not a thing in Novice and Intermediate categories, but the rules will vary depending on the race, so just make sure you’ve done your research before you tackle your first CX event.