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Cyclo-cross (CX)

Skinny tyres, mud, short, sharp off-road races, with hurdles, obstacles and intense action. This is cyclo-cross, a form of off-road racing that predates mountain biking by decades! 

Cyclo-cross is one of the most accessible forms of cycle sport, with racing for everyone from young kids to not so young kids! Throughout the autumn and winter, it’s probably taking place in a park near you...

Cyclo-cross takes place in off-road venues such as public parks and other open spaces. Surfaces can include grass, mud, gravel and sand. Courses are short and winding, enabling multiple laps to be completed within a set distance. Courses often feature obstacles such as hurdles and sand pits, forcing riders to dismount and carry or run with their bikes. Some courses are more ‘technical’ than others, featuring tight single-track trails, tree roots and other obstacles.

Cyclo-cross races are multi-lap events usually lasting for an hour for senior riders, with shorter distances for other categories. At the end of the set time, a bell is rung signifying the last lap, known as the ‘bell lap’. Racing seldom sees large bunches forming due to the nature of the terrain, with groups of two or three riders forming at the most. Cyclo-cross is often a personal battle between the rider and the course, making it engaging for riders of all abilities. There’s no ‘getting dropped from the bunch’ in cyclo-cross.

Cyclo-cross bikes

Cyclo-cross bikes are from a distance, very similar to road bikes, with 700c wheels, rigid frames and forks and dropped handlebars. However, there are significant differences; cyclo-cross bikes have wider knobbly tyres, slighter lower gearing, different frame geometry, more clearance for mud and either cantilever or disc brakes.

Kit and clothing

Jersey
Cyclo-cross is predominantly an autumn and winter sport, so it’s important to dress according to the weather. Adjust your base layer according to the conditions, but be careful not to overdress as you will be working hard!

Shorts
Traditionally, skin-suits are worn for cyclo-cross, but you can also pair your jersey with regular bib-shorts. One piece skin-suits are probably warmer as they can’t ride up exposing your back and there are no pockets to catch handlebars or pedals when carrying the bike.

Helmet
As with all forms of cycle sport in the UK, a helmet is compulsory for cyclo-cross and your regular road helmet is ideal. Despite the fact you’re racing through the coldest winter months, you’ll soon be overheating in a cross race so you’ll still be grateful of the cooling vents. 

Cyclo-cross events

Cyclo-cross racing is an autumn and winter sport, with well-organised leagues throughout the country. Races are easily accessible, often only requiring a day licence to take part. For local events, you don’t need even need a dedicated cyclo-cross bike, you can have a go on any decent cross-country mountain bike.

For more information on British Cycling organised cyclo-cross events go here. Need any advice, ask This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Central Cyclocross League - CCXL

The 2021/22 season is now underway and CCXL are working hard to create a wholesome race calendar for the coming season.  They have their classics; Campbell Park and the MK Bowl, but are also looking to add some exciting new venues too.

League affiliation is now open, and you can join as an affiliated rider here. You do not need to be a member of the league to race in Central CXL events. However there are benefits to being affiliated, which include:

Reduced entry fees
Online League Standings
Gridding (non affiliated riders will not be gridded)
And if for any reason rider numbers have to be limited, affiliates have priority

Check out the CCXL BC homepage for calendar, affiliation and also race day schedule.