17/10/2017 14:10:03

Words by Simon Nurse

The glorious world of Cyclo-cross

Ian Marshall

If you’re a keen as mustard cyclist, there’s every chance that right now you’re doing one of three things. I would wager you’re either (a) Enjoying a hard earned rest after a long season on tarmac (b) Right in the middle of cross season, mud splattered, tired and happy or (c) Have itchy feet from the former and tempted by the latter. If you’ve no interest in cross or already a cross rider (and probably over the park practising skills) you’ll read no further. So I’m guessing you’re a (c) kind of rider and my job is to convert you to the dark side. Because cross, quite frankly, is brilliant.

Many years ago, I saw an article about the three peaks cyclo-cross. I was intrigued. The imagery made the race look a bit potty - which it is - with a long line of people shouldering bikes over Whernside, the first of the three 700m Yorkshire hills. I was determined to do it and the race became a rather extreme introduction to the addictive world of cyclo-cross. Fortunately, regular CX racing is neither long in distance, nor difficult to enter and a whole world of mud, fun and community opened up. That was 13 years ago and like many others, I’ve never looked back. So what it is that makes CX so enjoyable and why should you do it? Well……How long have you got?

We’re all busy people so I’ll assume, ‘not very long’ and sum up CX racing for you in less than 100 words. Right then <clicks knuckles>:

Cyclo-cross is fast, fun and furious. It is one of the few forms of racing where amateurs and elites rub shoulders and everyone finishes at the same time. Irrespective of your placing, you’re always in a battle with peers and always have an opportunity to improve. Great skills are gained and rewarded; improving all aspects of your strength and riding. Races are cheap and the sense of community huge; you’ll be a member of one great big muddy family suitable for all ages. In short, it’s painful, beautiful and marvellous, often all at the same time.

If I haven’t sold it to you (and by Jove, I bloody hope I have), check out a race near you. There’s bound to be one. Just follow the cars carrying bikes caked  in mud, containing  occupants wearing smiles a mile wide. Whether you are already a keen cyclist, or perhaps a curious roadie, CX will do wonders for your skills and fitness, providing you a with great reason to continue your relationship with the bike into the winter months. I do wonder what people mean when they talk about the ‘off season’; it certainly ain’t September to January, that’s for sure.

From the shop

Entry level cyclo-cross bikes start with the Giant tough road SLR GX3 at £899 through to the Giant TCX advance range starting at £1999. Don’t be afraid to pop in the shops and pick our brains; most of our shop guys have raced cross and can give you hints, tips and advice on equipment selection.

Top image: Cardiff JIF/Cyclopaedia rider Ian Marshall.