6 reasons cyclocross has suddenly become all the rage

Posted on: October 18th, 2016

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Cyclocross is booming now and the numbers that regularly turn up to races are rivalling that of the road scene. With swelling numbers and growing interest it’s likely it could even surpass the road scene in terms of races and more importantly, interest (Photo: Toby Watson)

 

By Brian Canty

The cyclocross scene in Ireland has never been in better health and the discipline continues to enjoy huge growth.

Yesterday saw races in Munster, Leinster and Ulster with each of the host clubs reporting strong fields for all races.

With the winter fast approaching and thoughts of getting back into some form of structured training for next season, we reckoned it was timely to pen an article on why and how cyclocross will soon challenge road racing for numbers.

 

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Former national road race champion Fiona Meade looked to be having the time of her life on the course in Ennis yesterday during round two of the Munster CX league promoted by Burren Racing team. (Photo: Evolution Bikes Facebook page)

 

It’s safe

Whether it’s the long winter miles on the weekend or the midweek commute to work, you’re most likely going to be on the road when it’s dark.

And when it’s dark it’s also dangerous and your risk of slipping or crashing on poorly-surfaced roads is greater.

Cyclo-cross offers a safer environment for you to train where you’re rarely on concrete, so even if you do take a tumble the impact is not as severe.

 

The road season in Ireland  is too short

The biggest complaints from roadies are how the season is so short and how it should be lengthened to the end of September, or even into mid-October.

A vast swathe of domestic riders head to the continent every year to put some late-season form to use because they just want to stay racing.

Many more stay at home, of course, and sate their appetite for racing with cyclocross events.

 

The events are less time-consuming

Winter training is a slog, plain and simple. And if you’re training on your own it can mentally taxing too.

But one of the beauties of cyclocross is how quickly the events are over.

Generally, they’re no longer than 60 minutes so you’re not out there all day.

You rock up, sign on, blast it out for an hour and you’re in the car on the way home in the same time as an average Sunday road race takes to complete.

 

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Christopher McGlinchey is one of the very best road riders in the country and his training for the season starts well in advance of the first event, or is it the other way around? (Photo: Toby Watson)

 

….And great training

This is open to debate and we don’t aim to have the last word on it but many riders who do both will say cyclocross is a harder discipline.

While road races may be far longer, unless you’re actually in the break the pace of the bunch can be rather pedestrian if nobody is willing to ride.

But in cyclocross, given the lapped nature of the course and comparatively smaller gaps between the leader and the guys at the back, there’s more of an incentive to ride for everyone – and less team tactics at play.

In short, it’s harder to be frustrated from an afternoon racing ‘cross.

 

And whisper it, more fun

Again, guys who win road races might dispute this but cyclocross seems to carry a more carnival atmosphere around with it.

Look at any of the World Cup events in Belgium or even the UK this winter and you’ll see the crowds are not only massive but the events are treated like national holidays!

 

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Mounting and dismounting as well as cornering and braking are all essential skills one needs to master before becoming an established rider – and few disciplines are better to practice those than cyclocross. (Photo: Evolution Bikes Facebook page)

 

You become more skillful

Be it bike handling, descending, ascending or cornering, cyclocross covers all the bases in a safer environment than road racing.

Sure, you’ll fall off a heap of times and you chain will jam and you’ll be face down in the dirt but at least you won’t be as hurt as you’d be if you fell on road at 40kph.

With cyclocross you can be a little more courageous and fling the bike into corners with a bit more abandon, knowing you probably won’t wreck your machine if you do slide out.

 

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