Your shopping basket is empty!
We are well into the depths of the cyclocross season, but fear not, there is still time to dip your toe into one of the most enjoyable disciplines in the sport. Whether you’re looking for a new adventure in 2020 or want to start racing, the sport of cyclocross, and its bikes, should be what you are focussing on. We’ve put together our top ten reasons to get into cyclocross. Once you start, you will never look back.
Cyclocross is arguably the most accessible form of cycle sport there is. Races cater for all age groups and you can approach them in the manner that suits you. Raced on closed courses with no traffic apart from the occasional dog, ’cross is a great sport to pick up at any age. You can also do local league races on pretty much any bike – mountain bikes and gravel bikes are more than welcome.
Races are more often than not held at sports centres, around a couple of fields, a woodland area or a purpose-built course, and raced over a period of 40-60 minutes, depending on your category. ’Cross racing is incredibly exhilarating from the off, raced at high speeds with hard efforts throughout. It is incredibly rewarding too, tackling an obstacle or section that you had previously thought was impossible, and beating it. Don’t worry about field sizes or not being up at the front, due to the lap system and lack of bunching up, racing for 41st place is as competitive as racing for first, if not more so.
As with other forms of cycling, cyclocross has its own unique community. Somewhere between road riders and mountain bikers, ’cross riders are a pretty grounded and friendly bunch, happy to engage in conversation with anyone pre- or post-race. The whole atmosphere of a race day is special, and there is certainly ample time to make friends within the sport.
Improve your skills
Riding a bike across tricky terrain will dramatically increase your bike handling skills without you really noticing. Learning to corner in slippy mud will hold you in good stead for any wet road ride, and constantly focussing on body positioning and balance will in time make you a more competent rider. Even pro cyclist Heinrich Haussler, after competing at a recent World Cup event in Zolder, spoke of how impressed he was by the technique and speed of the top riders.
As well as your handling being improved, ’cross racing will also improve your power output. Whether it’s a boggy flat section or an energy sapping berm that you never feel you have the right gears for, over time you will become stronger as a result of these challenging features.
Cyclocross doesn’t need to be all about racing. Once you have the bike, you can build your routes around getting the most from it – take yourself away from busy roads and torturous chain gangs and into the freedom of nature. ’Cross bikes come mudguard-ready so are fantastic winter commuters as well as racing bikes and tourers. A proper Swiss army knife of a bicycle.
A whole-body workout
A cyclocross race feels like an hour-long gym session. You won’t realise it until afterwards, but you pretty much use every muscle in your body in a cyclocross race. with course features implemented purely to force you off the bike to jump a hurdle or run up a hill, this isn’t a leisurely hour in the saddle. Your core and upper body get as much of a workout as your legs, so by the time the race ends you’ll certainly feel that you’ve been through the mill.
Back on that community feel, during a race you will be cheered on by tonnes of people, some of whom you have never met. This encouragement is brilliant as it can spur you on to race harder or tackle a section of the course you find difficult. After your race has finished, hang about and watch the next one. Grab a drink, plate of chips (or a healthy alternative), and cheer on your new mates as they go through their ritual weekly pain cave.
Above all else, cyclocross is just great fun. It’s a great joy to race in a big field, the excitement of a bunch start, the speed of the courses and the friendly vibe go a long way to making it the best cycle discipline that the whole family can enjoy.
Now you have an idea about the benefits of cyclocross, it’s time to get yourself a ’cross bike. We stock some of Giant’s range, which are great bikes to start your cyclocross journey. With integrated disc brakes, plenty of clearance, and stiffness in all the right places for precise handling on rough terrain, these bikes are great for any type of course.
Don’t forget to protect your noggin too. Clearly, there shouldn’t be any motor vehicles on the ’cross course, but there are other riders, not to mention often frozen fields and gnarly obstacles. You’ll need a good set of mitts too, and not just because cyclocross = winter. A decent pair of gloves will improve your grip on the wet or muddy bars no end.