Cyclo-cross is the off-road equivalent of circuit racing. Courses are normally a mix of grass, mud and sand, with both natural and man-made obstacles thrown in to challenge your technique and athleticism.
Races typically last an hour for seniors, with shorter routes or fewer laps for younger riders. As races are more spread out than on the road or a circuit, you’ve always got someone to chase, regardless of your standard.
Cyclo-cross bikes look very much like road bikes, but they have more mud clearance, knobbly tyres and cantilever or disk brakes. Despite their fragile looks, cross bikes can handle some pretty extreme conditions. Most races, including the London Cross League, allow you to race on a mountain bike if you prefer.
Cross is traditionally a winter pursuit and bad weather is seen as an incentive to race rather than an excuse not to. As its popularity has grown however, the season has crept forward now as early as July, running right through to February in the local leagues.
London & SE Cyclo Cross League provide a variety of cyclo cross races throughout Kent, Sussex and Surrey from September to February – information can be found on their website www.londonxleague.co.uk