Cyclo-cross is a form of bicycle racing. The races take place typically in the autumn and winter. It consists of many laps of a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike whilst navigating the obstruction and remount in one motion. Cyclocross is a fun and challenging mix of road and off-road racing on a closed circuit with obstacles such as sandtraps, berms, and barriers.
Cyclocross boomed in the late 1990s. Cycloross become favorite winter sports in Europe at that time, cyclocross combines riding in tricky terrain with jumping off to carry the bike over obstacle and up or down the hills that are too steep to ride. There are two countries annually hold this Cyclocross racing, Belgium and France. Cross-country racing is more attractive for people to watch because it shows a lot of unique attraction and skill.
Cyclocross can be done using a mountain bike, but for more serious competition a cyclocross bike is a better choice, it’s like a road bike but with more features like wider tires and greater wheel clearances that help it to handle muddy conditions, cyclocross biggest advantage is weight, which is several pounds lighter than that typical mountain bike, and make cyclocross bike easier to hoist and carry.
Simon Burney, the expert on cyclocross racing and trainingmentions, said that competing in cyclocross races will improve the skills of all cyclists, no mater what their discipline. He says that cyclocross riding can be a perfect winter activity for road cyclists to be involved in: “As an aid to improved bike handling it cannot be beaten. After a winter riding ‘cross, bad road surfaces, racing in the rain, and descending will be a lot easier to cope with, as ‘cross teaches you how to race and handle your bike well in all conditions.”
Techniques and Tactics
For anyone new to the sport of cyclocross, it is probably not a bad idea to watch a race or two, as a spectator, before signing up for their first race. Running, leaping over obstacles and quickly mounting and dismounting the cross bike are all key components of an average cyclocross race.
Mastering the mounts and dismounts required in cyclo-cross takes practice and lots of it. Start out slowly on a smooth surface; as you improve, try practicing on progressively less friendly terrain.
The Role of the Mechanic
Cyclocross racing puts a lot of wear and tear on rider equipment. Burney mentions that serious cross racers own two cyclocross bikes. While the cx racer is out racing on the course with one bike, their mechanic can work on cleaning and maintaining the spare bike. Most cross races have a pit area, where the racers can exchange one bike for another, while giving the mechanics an area to work on the bike that has just been exchanged. There are a lot of websites that talk about Cyclocross technique and tactics. CyclocrossMagazine.com is one of my favorite cyclocross online magazines. They tell us about cyclocross online by showing the video tutorial and articles for each technique and tactics. We can learn theme easily and practice it well, better than buying a lot of video and book to learn about cyclocross which can spend much money for it.
Races almost universally consist of many laps over a short course, ending when a time limit is reached rather than after a specific number of laps or certain distance; the canonical length for senior events is one hour. Generally each lap is around 2.5-3.5 km and is 90% rideable. Races run under UCI rules must have courses that are always at least 3 m wide to encourage passing at any opportunity, however sections of singletrack are common for small races in the USA and Great Britain. A variety of terrain is typical, ranging from roads to paths with short steep climbs, off camber sections, lots of corners and, a defining feature, sections where the rider may need, or would be best advised to dismount and run whilst carrying the bike. Under-tire conditions include asphalt, hardpack dirt, grass, mud and sand. In comparison to cross-country mountain bike events, terrain is smoother. Less emphasis is put on negotiating rough or even rocky ground with more stress on increased speed and negotiating different types of technical challenges.
Each section of the course typically lasts no longer than a handful of seconds. For example long climbs are avoided in favour of short, sharp inclines. Sections are generally linked together, or long straights broken up, with tight corners. This not only allows a standard length course to fit in a relatively small area, but also forces competitors to constantly change speed and effort. Accelerating out of corners, then having to decelerate for the next before accelerating again is a common theme. Obstacles that force a rider to dismount and run with their bike or to “bunny hop” include banks too steep to ride up, steps, sand pits and plank barriers. Besides the start/finish area, these obstacles may be placed anywhere on the course that the race director desires. Several race directors have tried to limit bunny hopping by placing barriers in pairs or in triple, however this hasn’t stopped some of the best bunny hoppers from getting over them. The regulation height for a barrier is 40 cm although this is treated as a maximum at smaller events. Plank barriers seem to be more common in the US than in Europe and UCI regulations only permit one section of them on the course.
Since outside assistance is allowed, pits are included to provide a consistent area for this to occur. A pit to the right of the course is normal since most rides dismount to their left. In larger events a separate pit lane is featured so only those wishing a new bike or other assistance need enter the lane. In some cases pits are provided in two different parts of the course.
An exception to this short course format include the Three Peaks, a 61 km single lap race held annually in Yorkshire.