The sport of Cyclocross, often referred to as ‘Cross, CX or Cyclo-X’ is a sport which combines criterium-style racing with uphill running, for the most part. Sound intriguing? We think so, and here are 9 reasons why you should give it a go for yourself this Winter.

For the love of mud

For The Love Of Mud is a film produced by Benedict Campbell to promote the fantastic, ever increasingly popular sport of cyclo-cross. It might be a couple of years old, but this trailer sums up pretty quickly all that is so freaking good about CX, from the gruelling runs, the mud, to the the ambience at the events.

“FOR THE LOVE OF MUD” TEASER-1 from benedict campbell on Vimeo.

1. Combines cycling, running & high intensity training

From sprint starting on your bike to jumping off and lifting the bike up steep muddy hills, a good level of core and upper body strength is the key to victory. Although it’s dependent on the race, but for the most part, CX demands more strength than MTB or road racing, so that’s one thing you can brag to your pals about who’re busy moaning about that 200 mile road outing.

As Cyclocross events are relatively short, you’ll be able to enjoy reducing the length of endurance you’d usually do at a long length sportive, whilst also increasing your speed.

Also, as CX involves short stints of running with the bike slung over your shoulder, it’s important that you can muster up a good sprint. Fear not however, if running isn’t your usual thing, as Cyclocross will allow you to start training, and once the season is over you might even have caught the running bug. This is great if you’re dabbling with the idea of a triathlon.

2. It’ll test your balance to the extreme

Cyclocross will test your balancing skills in a similar way to MTB. With muddy trails, slippery obstacles to run over and balancing all of this with a bike on your shoulder, it’s important to have complete balance awareness so not to skid off track and lose yourself some vital points. Also, you don’t want to brake any bones having a nasty fall.

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Image: Angel Santos

3. You can use a Cyclocross bike for more than just Cross

You can use your trusty Cyclocross bike for much more than just competing. Whether it’s venturing out on icy rides, using with a mudguard for the wet weather or just for pinning a 100 mile stint out on the road, a cyclocross fits the bill for all.

Also, if you don’t have a Cyclocross bike, now is a good excuse to get one, right?

4. You’ll improve your handling skills

With Cyclocross demanding an adverse range of handling skills, whether it’s sliding over thick mud, rocky ground or just tackling the steep inclines, your cycling skills will be tested that’s for sure. Cyclocross gives you the ability to improve your handling, which you can then transfer back to the road or MTB when Cross season is over.

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5. There is a time-limit on the races

The longest you’ll ever be racing for is 60 minutes, which for some is a lot more enjoyable than say a 3-5 hour road race. Given that the races take place at weekends, you won’t have to give up too much of your time, and if they’re on a Sunday, you’ll even make it home for that well earned Sunday Roast.

6. Suitable for all shapes and sizes

When you think road racing, you’d usually imagine a Chris Froome shaped physique; lean and usually quite small (albeit Froome is a good 6ft tall, but you catch our drift). With Cyclocross, size isn’t as much of an advantage, as you’ll see a mixture of big, small, lean and muscular whippets flying around the course.

The big guys do well, and so do the the small, which we think is pretty awesome.

Copyright Matt Grayson

7. You get to race against the pros

There are not many sports (if any) where amateurs of all levels get to race against the pros on a weekly basis. Well that is except Cyclocross. Week in week out, you can race against the best the country has to offer, and whilst this may mean you get lapped, when can your roadie mates boast they races against a National Champion?

8. Everybody gets points for competing

Because of the way the points are structured, unless you finish outside the top 100 in your age group (which would rarely happen, as this relies on more than 100 competitors in your age group) you get the points. This means that the more dedicated you are, the higher you’ll climb up the league, even if you don’t boast great results.

It’s also probably the most accessible form of bike racing. There are leagues based all over the country, and all you need to do is rock up with your bike and race. Because it’s a circuit based race, you can’t really get dropped from the bunch, so you can just race at your own speed.

9. There is so much fun to be had

Ultimately, Cyclocross is a race which will give you endless fun from start to finish. With many races to choose from up and down the country, and with the advantage that spectators are guaranteed to have as much fun watching as you’ll have, why don’t you give it a go this weekend?

Check out the races which are on near you thanks to British Cycling.

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