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Dummies guide to Cyclocross (CX)

Dummies guide to Cyclocross (CX)

What is Cyclocross?

Cyclocross (also known as CX) is one of the most fast paced and accessible disciplines in all of cycling. Thrilling for both participants and spectators alike, Cyclocross races take place over short distances of around 1-3km on off road surfaces such as grass, dirt and mud in locations such as woods and fields.

The races are usually on circuits with a certain number of laps and often include obstacles which the cyclists must overcome. Uniquely to CX you often have dismount, carry and then remount back onto your bike during a race to get through some of these obstacles. The cyclocross season runs during the winter and Ireland seems ideally suited to this type of cycle sport with there being an abundance of parks and open spaces that can be taken advantage of.

The discipline combines many of the skills used in standard road and mountain biking with an added emphasis being placed on bike handling skills as the riders navigate the sometimes bumpy and muddy terrain. However, the courses are generally not too technical or challenging which allows beginners to get up to speed quickly. This means that cyclocross can be a great way for families to exercise as it caters to all different skill levels. Also the short distances mean that you don’t need a really high level of fitness to compete with the intensity of the racing still ensuring you get a good workout with one’s aerobic endurance being tested. Cyclocross is also a very safe form of cycling taking place on mostly soft terrain away from roads and traffic making it ideal for kids.

What equipment do I need?

There are bikes specifically designed for cyclocross which are essentially a cross between mountain and road bikes. The tyres have a knobbly appearance like traditional mountain bikes but are slightly skinnier whilst the actual frame of the bike most resembles a road bike. The brakes on cyclocross bikes tend to be disc brakes like mountain bikes.

For beginners however, a normal mountain bike will be fine as they are suitable for the off road terrain. In terms of clothing it would probably be advised to warm weatherproof clothing if possible as the racing takes place through the winter and will likely get muddy. Besides from the usual essentials such as a helmet etc., not much equipment is needed for a newbie to jump straight into cyclocross, apart from perhaps a cup of hot chocolate afterwards to help recover from the cold! Some useful information for beginners relating to equipment can be found here.

How and where can I get involved?

People can participate in cyclocross throughout Ireland with a number of races taking place around the country. Two most of the most prominent series are Ulster cyclocross series and FIXX Supercross Cup is CX league that caters for the Dublin and Wicklow area.

More information on cyclocross can be found Cycling Ireland’s off road website, and on the Ulster cyclocross website. You can also find your nearest club that caters to cyclocross using the club locater here.

(photos and videos courtesy of Ulster cyclocross)
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