Explaining just what is cyclocross has always posed a headache for cross riders. "It’s like a cross-country running race on a bike" is a common explanation, although probably only true in the 1970's as things have moved on since then. In this article Elivar Featured Athlete John Shaw gives his perspective on cyclecross.
There is much debate as to where cyclocross started however one thing which is clear -Belgium is the spiritual home of this sport. Indeed by racing in Belgium over the years, lapping up the atmosphere, and the smell of beer, frites and embrocation, I earned the nick name “Johnny Belg”.
Cyclocross is an intense fast circuit on different types of terrain ranging from mud, dust and sand incorporating natural and man-made obstacles that take place in parks, woodland and urban areas. Lap times range from around 8-9 minutes, which is great for spectators and sponsor publicity. Courses are twisting with off-cambers and running sections, which get more difficult as the weather turns nasty around November/December time (a season runs from September until early February).
Equipment is crucial; circuits have pits in which riders can exchange bikes during muddy races or when mechanical issues occur; bikes are washed and prepped by family members or team mechanics all within the 8-minute lap - no mean feat and just as hard, if not harder than racing itself! Top and supported riders can have 4-5 bikes and numerous wheel-sets with different tyre treads for different conditions.
Overall, it’s a great growing sport offering races for all ages from Under 8's to Veteran in a safe environment with various leagues across the country; so get yourself along for a try or just to spectate and cheer on your local riders.
"Johnny Belg" AKA John Shaw is an Elivar Featured Athlete. You can read more about John and the other members of our Featured Athlete team here
Reckon you could take up cyclocross? Take a look at this video by Burk Webb
Riding the route of the Giro D'Italia would be a challenge for most normal cyclists. 3,400 km over 21 stages between the 5-28th May. But what if you were 77 years old? Well, meet Mick Ives.