What is Cyclo-Cross?

Many consider cyclo-cross to be a steeplechase with modified road bikes on a 2.5km to 3.5km course over hill and dale, others consider it muddy hell.  Its roots can be traced to the early 1900s, when French army private Daniel Gousseau would ride his bicycle alongside horseback-riding friends through the woods.  But it's also an immensely popular winter race discipline, guaranteed to get you fitter (and muddier) with an exceptional atmosphere to boot.

The cyclo-cross scene is strong in Europe, with some of the most aggressive and successful racers hailing from Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy and the Czech Republic.  But it's currently enjoying a massive boom in the US and Australia, along with a renaissance in the UK.  Traditionally, the cyclo-cross season runs from September to January, ending with the UCI World Championships.


How to get started in Cyclo-Cross

So you want to give cyclo-cross a go?  Brilliant!  First things first; you'll need to find an event.  Cyclo-cross races are usually run via local leagues, and the South West League with its roots starting back on 2002 covers the three counties’ of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.  Most races happen on a Sunday, and are short, so you'll have time to get up, warm up, race and get home and showered with plenty of time left for your regular weekend activities.  The British Cycling website will list all upcoming UK events including all South West League events:

Cyclo-cross races are also known for their fun and inclusive atmosphere, and many people bring their whole families along.  Even better, races also have events for different age categories, so you can encourage the kids to get riding too.  You don't need to go out and buy a 'cross bike immediately, and most people will start out on a mountain bike.  You may want to invest in one after a while, and they're such versatile bikes anyway that we also reckon they're ideal for commuting and general riding too.

Cyclo-cross is a great discipline for fitness and health, and it's also one that fits in well around a busy work and life schedule.  If you can squeeze in even just 45 minutes of training five times a week, you'll see the benefit in your 'cross racing, and also be ahead of the fitness curve when the spring comes round and it’s time for the road racing season to start!