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It's fun, exciting and is great for your fitness, we look at why you should try cyclocross this winter

Cyclocross is fast and exciting and has become hugely popular in the past decade with races springing up right across the country, and the best thing is it’s really accessible and fun for all the family. It’s a great adrenaline rush and most races are 40-60 minutes long, and is really good for your fitness and bike handling skills, and a great way to mix up your winter cycling routine.

Here are six reasons why we think you should try cyclocross racing this winter:

1. It’s great fun

Cyclocross is all about the smiles. It’s a little quirky riding a modified road bike around a muddy field for an hour, but that just makes it all the more appealing. There are lots of local races all over the country and there’s a good atmosphere at these events, with only the very top racers taking it too seriously. Everyone else is there for the joy of it. It’s good for spectators too as the courses are short and tightly confined.

giant-tcx-slr1-riding-2.jpg

giant-tcx-slr1-riding-2.jpg

2. It keeps you fit through the winter

Cyclocross is a high-intensity sport so it’s a really good workout, and because races are usually no longer than an hour, you’re not tiring yourself as too much as you would on a 6-hour road ride. Most people can ride comfortably for an hour so no specific training is really required. Cyclocross is also a full body workout as well. Typically there is dismounting and running up steep banks and steps involved, and so your core and upper body gets a good workout from wrestling the bike through mud and sand.

3. It’s good for bike handling skills

Riding a cyclocross bike through adverse conditions, whether it’s slick mud, wet grass, or rocky ground, with the myriad of obstacles you’ll encounter from off-camber turns, steep banks and hurdles, gives you a good lesson in bike handling skills. Handling a slip sliding cyclocross bike requires a relaxed technique and that can transfer really well to the road bike.

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4. It’s accessible

Racing cyclocross is a lot more accessible than most other forms of cycle sport. The competitiveness is always good natured. there’s no bunch to get dropped from, everyone races at their own speed, you can be battling for 1st or 51st, you’ll still be having a good time. Cyclocross races cater for all ages with races split by age so you’re racing against people of the same age. It’s also a good spectator sport.

5. Only takes an hour

Only takes an hour. The longest cyclocross race is 60 minutes, many are shorter, which means it doesn’t take over your whole Sunday. You can be done and dusted and home for Sunday lunch. This makes cyclocross racing very good for time-crunched cyclists. For many cyclists, an hour of cyclocross racing is a lot more fun than 6-hours on the road bike. Especially when it's raining. 

light-blue-robinson-1x-riding-1.jpg

light-blue-robinson-1x-riding-1.jpg

6. An excuse to buy a new bike

You can never have too many bikes. If you have a mountain bike, you can use that just fine, many people do quite happily. But if you want to get into it properly, then you might want to invest in a cyclocross bike. Cyclocross bikes have changed quite a bit in the last few years and disc brakes are now very popular. Many cyclocross bikes are very versatile as well, and can be used as a commuting and winter training bike with a simple change of tyres.

 

How to get started

If we've talked you into wanting to give cyclocross a go, you'll probably be wondering what you need. There are a few essentials, namely a bike. You can do take part on a mountain bike if you just want to try it out for the first time. If you want to invest in a dedicated cyclocross bike, make sure to read this Buyer's Guide to choosing the right cyclocross bike.

merida-cyclocross-5000.jpg

merida-cyclocross-5000.jpg

If you want to know more about what to expect from a cyclocross race, from finding your local race league to the format of racing and what you can expect, have a read of our Complete Guide to Cyclocross racing.

And for more information on the bikes and equipment you might need for cyclocross racing, from shoes to pedals, bikes to brakes and gearing, have a read of this Beginner's guide to cyclo-cross essentials.

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

16 comments

Avatar
surly_by_name [520 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

You honestly don't need to go beyond reason 1. In my experience, the best fun racing you can do on a bike.

Also, while 5 is true inasmuch as the races themselves are only an hour, you will often need to drive (potentially a long way) to different events. c.80% of the rounds of the London CX League, for example, take place outside the M25. Add in packing car, driving, competing, driving, unpacking car, washing bike (when it gets muddy, anyway) and you'll rarely manage it all in less than six hours.

 

Avatar
unconstituted [2355 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Those On One bikes, can they be proper cyclocross bikes then also be made into good touring bikes too? Just by changing the wheels?

Avatar
GREGJONES [296 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes
unconstituted wrote:

Those On One bikes, can they be proper cyclocross bikes then also be made into good touring bikes too? Just by changing the wheels?

Funny you should say that, this weekend I was planning to go along to my first CX race on my on-one pompino whilst my boy has a go earlier on his Isla bike. Am I being foolish thinking I cab have a go on a single speed with 32mm knobbly tyres?

Avatar
ct [198 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

Nope, just have a go. It'll be hard work and depends on the course and conditions...but my own incompetence meant I was single speed and survived it.

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jollygoodvelo [1614 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

I'm thinking about taking this up but when you say it's split by age - you mean that there's a juniors and a seniors category.  Those of us in our 30s will be chucked in with the racing snakes in their 20s...

In fairness it's not like I'd be winning anyway so I must get around to it.

Avatar
ct [198 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Juniors, youth, seniors and vets. Vets start at 40. Ladies divisions too natch.

You will be in with the seniors but they just shout something about left or right then leave you alone for a few laps until you are lapped again (our is that just me?)

Do it, it is epic fun.

Avatar
cyclisto [192 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

All these are true, but the mud cleaning is PITA

Avatar
drjohn [35 posts] 9 months ago
1 like

 

Point number 2, "a good workout" by which you mean...

........basically it's the most knackering thing ever, it really is. 

 

I was at a curry night recently and recruited a band of willing veteran fools. Let's see how it goes.

I like the fact that it's not, for most of us anyway, elbows-out bunch sprinting.

Avatar
jollygoodvelo [1614 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
drjohn wrote:

 

Point number 2, "a good workout" by which you mean...

........basically it's the most knackering thing ever, it really is. 

 

I was at a curry night recently and recruited a band of willing veteran fools. Let's see how it goes.

I like the fact that it's not, for most of us anyway, elbows-out bunch sprinting.

 

If the race I watched last autumn was anything to go by, it's almost the exact reverse of a  road race: an elbows-out sprint from the start to the first corner,  followed by riders managing their effort to the finish.

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usedtobefaster [197 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

Can we not encourage any more racers please to CX .... there's already enough in front of me in the results sheet don't need any more  1

 

Seriously , it's my second season this year and I've found it to be great fun, a really hard work out, and everyone involved is really welcoming.

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gthornton101 [143 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

Very tempting... is their a website or somewhere that lists CX events by area?

 

Do you think it's feasible to compete on my "winter commuter" bike aka hybrid Cannondale Bad Boy with disc brakes?  And by compete I mean "get round" and not actually vie for the podium!

 

Avatar
ct [198 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
gthornton101 wrote:

Very tempting... is their a website or somewhere that lists CX events by area?

 

Do you think it's feasible to compete on my "winter commuter" bike aka hybrid Cannondale Bad Boy with disc brakes?  And by compete I mean "get round" and not actually vie for the podium!

 

 

The BC site has all affiliated ones... UK cyclo cross events has even more.  Some aren't affiliated so have a deco locally - North Wales for example has a vibrant league that is not on the BC site.

 

And yes you can.  For 2 seasons I used my Marin Lombard complete with baby seat clamp, rack and on occasion mudguards...and I just get around.

 

We must talk about tyre pressures though...

Avatar
bendertherobot [1414 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
ct wrote:
gthornton101 wrote:

Very tempting... is their a website or somewhere that lists CX events by area?

 

Do you think it's feasible to compete on my "winter commuter" bike aka hybrid Cannondale Bad Boy with disc brakes?  And by compete I mean "get round" and not actually vie for the podium!

 

 

The BC site has all affiliated ones...bikereg has some more and UK cyclo cross events has even more.

 

And yes you can.  For 2 seasons I used my Marin Lombard complete with baby seat clamp, rack and on occasion mudguards...and I just get around.

 

We must talk about tyre pressures though...

Aw, can't we talk about tyres?

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ct [198 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
bendertherobot wrote:

Aw, can't we talk about tyres?

We can, I have a pair on my bike [still caked in mud from the last race].

Avatar
GerardR [136 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
GREGJONES wrote:
unconstituted wrote:

Those On One bikes, can they be proper cyclocross bikes then also be made into good touring bikes too? Just by changing the wheels?

Funny you should say that, this weekend I was planning to go along to my first CX race on my on-one pompino whilst my boy has a go earlier on his Isla bike. Am I being foolish thinking I cab have a go on a single speed with 32mm knobbly tyres?

I've got a Pickenflick, which I 've used for touring by changing the tyres and putting on a seatpost-mounted carrier rack, frame bag and front bag.  So within my experience, yes.

Avatar
gistaputri [1 post] 1 month ago
0 likes

A challenge for cyclists to try, unfortunately sprei anti air can not participate.