Put aside Olympic memories, the Summer Grand Tours, heroics, speed and summer high jinx. As the Autumn leaves start to fall and the nights draw in, inevitably some fair weather pro cycling fans will pedal a hasty retreat. However with the cycling calendars tasty appetizers finished and cleared away, there are some of us who are now salivating, eagerly awaiting the main course.
For some winter Cyclo Cross is the main attraction of the cyclists year with no less potential for action of the low down and dirty kind. So whether you are racing for the first time, or an experienced pundit, we’ve compiled a short, compact list of ways to get fully immersed in the action and Cyclo Cross culture. There’s advice on everything from pro racing to deep fried food. So this winter don’t just sit back and stay in, go out and get cross!
Training sessions: if you’re in London or the south east there’s a weekly session every Wednesday, going on all the way through to January, led by qualified coach Marc Burden. For riders 11 or older the sessions cost £3 and meet at Eton Manor Walk E10 (opposite the Olympic Velodrome). More info available through our website - click below:
Incredibly Cross: a format successfully imported from the US - an impromptu race course is set-up on the day on a pre-agreed site (parks or woods) after which racing commences. Expect laughs, beer “hand-ups” and even trophies. Great fun is assured. Find out more via the Facebook page below:
Or via the hashtag #incrediblycross
London, Central and Eastern league race series: whilst there will be elite level racing to cheer on at the fixtures in these series, there’s also categories for beginners and fun racers to enter and ride these events too. They’re also family friendly with Under 12 and Under 10 races as part of proceedings. Follow the links below to find dates and fixtures:
For UK cross racing outside these areas hop over to the British Cycling website to find racing near you:
UCI Cyclo Cross World Championship 28-29/01/17: this year the cross world champs will be held in Luxembourg where the best racers in the world will vie for title honours and the coveted rainbow jersey. Look out for updates, via social media channels and a dedicated event website through the URL below:
Our favourite CX media site. For all the most upto date news from Europe and the UK. Regular visits are essential https://www.cyclocrossrider.com/
In the Crosshairs: The Cyclo Cross news source providing regular podcast insights from within the pro scene. Interviews and news from locations around the world following the pro cross calendar.
GCN: Global Cycling Network have made an excellent series of films focusing on Cyclo Cross. Everything from setting up your cross bike to riding techniques and cleaning are covered. It’s all available for free via Youtube:
GritCX: Well informed insights and reviews focusing on a wide remit of cross racing through to gravel bike adventures. Available online or via (old school) glossy print. Online version available via the URL below:
Vintage footage: We love this! Here's some beautiful vintage footage of the Tynesdale Vagabonds racing cross in 1960. Simpler times; this is back in an era when riders washed their cross machines in a river and brewed tea on a Primus stove, post race. Enjoy.
Ukcyclocross: here’s a website offering the chance to connect with other crossers, via a specific forum, whilst also offering a nice mix of news, views and product reviews. Get involved via the URL below:
Here's two hashtags for all kinds of cross content, for searches via social media, to get you inspired:
Here’s two women set for success this winter
Nikki Harris: keep up to date with the current women’s British Cyclo Cross champion currently riding alongside Britain’s Lizzie Armistead at the superstar Belgian pro women’s outfit Boels Dolmans.
Helen Wyman: nine times national and two time European cyclocross champion. Helen has a real talent for writing about her riding life. Whether it’s her hopes for the future of pro womens racing through to day to day training with coach and husband Stef (from their base in Belgium) or tasty insights about racing alongside the best racers in the world on ridiculously punishing courses.
- Internet: http://www.helenwyman.com/
- on Twitter: @CXHelen
- on Instagram: @cxhelen
Cowbells, frites and beer
Last but not least; three elements more related to Cyclocross quirky heritage but no less important than anything else on this list.
Cowbells: In the Cross heartlands of northern Europe it can get bitterly cold in January at the height of the season! Despite no real clues as to why this particular accessory has become quite so popular throughout the fanatical crowds in Belgium, vigorously shaking a cowbell in order to stay warm may be the answer. Either way it sounds great and helps to spur on the racers.
Frites/chips: Fried food is also vital to fend off dank winter conditions whilst standing around in a field. The authentic chip is more of a European (thinner...) frite/french fry rather than the more chubby (and often greasy) traditional English chippie type. For those craving the real taste of the continent, mayonnaise and mustard should be added too.
Beer: Belgians love their beer! And the way it tastes alongside some Frites (see above), you’d think it’s brewed for that purpose alone. Try Jupiler or Vedet. Leffe brun and Delerium Tremens are only for the experienced drinker and its effects will make the slippery muddy trek back to the home straight a little dicey. Don't say we didn't warn you!