Cyclo-cross (often abbreviated to 'Cross or CX) is generally an autumn and winter sport through September - January. In recent years the sport has gained popularity, with veterans' (aged 40+) races seeing fields of 100 riders or more. Also many youngsters have come to the sport recently and race day often has a strong family feel with Dad, Mum and kids all participating. It is also a good spectator sport especially when it gets muddy !
Mass starts make for exciting races, which are usually 40mins - 1hr in lenghth depending on your age category (shorter for children, juniors, and women). Races for younger riders - often organised under British Cycling's Go-Ride system - are usually cheap to enter and accessible to all. Some organisers are now running summer series, which are proving very popular. Within your category you can expect to be pitched in with a wide range of abilities. Local races have a relaxed, informal atmosphere and entries are usually accepted on the day. Mountain bikes are welcome at most races and most courses are such that almost anyone can take part and enjoy a race.
Races are usually multi-lap events, held on courses typically 2-3km long giving races of 5-10 laps but always based on time, Courses are generally located in public parks, showgrounds, woodland or local fields. Although cyclocross is less technically demanding for riders than mountain biking, it does require a unique skillset - there is often a dismount that requires the bike to be lifted over obstances such as logs or wooden boards (up to 40cm) or carried up a short steep bank. The ability to swap smoothly and quickly from riding to running and back to riding in one fluid motion is a key skill for advanced riders.
The short laps mean that better riders often lap slower competitors, but that’s not the end of the race: you can still submerge yourself in the action, enjoy your own private battles and forget whether you are first or a hundred and first – that’s the beauty of the sport: it’s what you make of it that counts. Cyclo-cross is used by many road and mountain bike competitors to maintain their fitness during the winter.
For more information on the very popular local Lincolnshire league visit the Lincolnshire Cyclocross Association Websitehere.