So what exactly is cyclocross?
Races typically take place in the autumn and winter (September and October for our series), and consist of many laps of a short (1.5–3.0 km) course featuring gravel road, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount.
How long are the races?
We aim to run two races each evening. One will be focused on Beginner and Novice level fitness and run for approx. 30 minutes and the second will be for the fitter and more experienced folks and run for approx. 45 minutes.
Do I need a special bike?
The short answer is, no. We are running this series for fun and for training and will be accepting mountain or ’cross bikes. Read on for a bit more detail.
Cyclocross bicycles are similar to racing bicycles: lightweight, with narrow tires and drop handlebars. They are typically differentiated by their greater tyre clearances, lower gearing, stronger frames, cantilever brakes and more upright riding position. They also share characteristics with mountain bicycles in that they utilize knobby tread tires for traction and increasingly, disc brakes. They have to be lightweight because competitors need to carry their bicycle to overcome barriers or slopes too steep to climb in the saddle.
What are the courses like?
Races almost universally consist of many laps over a short course, ending when a time limit is reached rather than after a specific number of laps or certain distance. Generally each lap is around 1.5-3.0 km and is 90% rideable. Races run under UCI rules must have courses that are always at least 3 m wide to encourage passing at any opportunity, however sections of singletrack are common for smaller races. A variety of terrain is typical, ranging from roads to paths with short steep climbs, off camber sections, lots of corners and, a defining feature, sections where the rider may need, or would be best advised to dismount and run while carrying the bike. Under-tire conditions include gravel, hardpack dirt, grass, mud and sand. In comparison to cross-country mountain bike events, terrain is smoother. Less emphasis is put on negotiating rough or even rocky ground with more stress on increased speed and negotiating different types of technical challenges.
Each section of the course typically lasts no longer than a handful of seconds. For example long climbs are avoided in favour of short, sharp inclines. Sections are generally linked together, or long straights broken up, with tight corners. This not only allows a standard length course to fit in a relatively small area, but also forces competitors to constantly change speed and effort. Accelerating out of corners, then having to decelerate for the next before accelerating again is a common theme.
Obstacles that force a rider to dismount and run with their bike or to "bunny hop" include banks too steep to ride up, steps, sand pits and plank barriers. Besides the start/finish area, these obstacles may be placed anywhere on the course that the race director desires. Several race directors have tried to limit bunny hopping for safety reasons by placing barriers in pairs or in triple (although under UCI rule no more than two barriers can appear in succession), however this hasn’t stopped some of the best bunny-hoppers from getting over them. The regulation height for a barrier is 40 cm.