What is cyclocross and why should you watch it? First of all, cyclocross takes place off-road on a closed course, similar to an outdoor velodrome with lots of obstacles, like mud sand off cambers and all of that on teeny mountain bike tires on drop bar road bikes.
Why should you watch it? If that’s not enough reason and it’s like going to a football match or a baseball game but you get to be right on the sidelines.
Drinking beer, eating fries, bringing cowbells, and yelling as loud as you can for your favorite riders. It’s also where the best bike handlers are born. There isn’t anything in cycling that rivals the experience of spectating or racing a proper cyclocross race.
What is Cyclocross Race
Let’s start with what is cyclocross? Cyclocross is where road riders go to go on off-road in all seriousness.
It’s where mountain bikers, road riders, and pretty much everyone in between from all disciplines come together to go head-to-head in a one-hour slugfest.
You could compare road racing to the game of chess, and then you can compare cyclocross to the game of checkers.
In chess, multiple ponds move around just like a big road team to set up their leaders. Whereas in cyclocross, it’s one person versus another It happens super quick.
I’ve often said it takes a road race five hours to figure out what cyclocross gets done in one hour.
Well, first of all, cyclocross courses are mostly, off-road usually held in some type of park or outdoor venue or an arena.
Cross courses are going to have tons of obstacles throughout them. Some natural, some fabricated. Those are going to force riders to be technically on-point and agile. And oftentimes riders will have to dismount their bikes and start running with them.
Especially if a section gets too hard or too technical, or for instance, a rider can’t keep their momentum. Through heavy sand or mud that’s out on the course now, cyclocross or CX as it’s called will have multiple labs that are around minutes long.
And the races are typically 40 to 50 minutes long for the women’s elite and around 60 minutes long for the men
Cyclocross Bike Type
So, what kind of bike do you use for cyclocross? Well, you’ll use a cyclocross bike, which looks just like a road bike, but it would be more similar to a gravel bike.
It’ll have a higher bottom bracket. It’ll have increased tire clearance for bigger tires. It’ll have more aggressive geometry to be able to take those sharp turns that you see out on the cyclocross course at slower speeds, with ease and keeping traction, cross bikes these days.
Always outfit with this break and Gravel group sets sometimes single chainrings and clutch rear derailleurs to keep the chain from popping off.
When they go over the undulating terrain that crosses riders often see, they also will opt for tubular tires as it’s their only form of suspension on a cyclocross bike.
Now, traditionally, even though they go off-road, they don’t use any suspension and while tubeless technology is growing and you haven’t seen a pro-rider yet when a high-level race on them.
But that might be coming and you might be thinking well, why wouldn’t you just use a mountain bike? Well, across bikes is faster for the types of conditions that cyclocross races are held on.
Typically for a mountain bike, you need bigger tires, more aggressive routes and rocks, and things like that. Cyclocross courses are generally manicured for a 700 C Navi 33 C tubular, which is why it’s so much fun to watch and to participate. It’s almost like having the wrong, but also the right bike for them.
Cyclocross Racing Popularity
So where is cyclocross racing popular? Well, cyclocross racing happens all over the globe. It does have a cyclocross world cup, which goes to several countries
It’s mainly in the United States, Ireland, the UK, and Europe, but hotspots include Australia, Japan, New Zealand, North America, the UK, all over Europe, but Belgium and the Netherlands are the big dogs of cyclocross for the moment.
The racing scene in these countries is massive and completely unrivaled. And speaking of. The rivalries between the best men and best women from Belgium.
So, let’s talk about some of the conditions that you see on a cyclocross course. Mud is actually favored by the riders and fans, but courses can have sand and grass pavement for the start finished sections.
Usually, there’s a big wide-open field somewhere and it’s like a cyclocross course races often come down to last lap duals with one rider capitalizing from another rider’s mistakes with the crowd cheering, hanging over the tape, screaming at the top of their lungs.
Letting the rider that’s out front know when a mistake has been made behind just the sound of the crowd.
It is intense and the racing often ends in a sprint finish with second place being just a couple of seconds off of the winter.
For fans of this sport, you can see the differences in technique, the style, and the panache of the riders in full view from one vantage point out on the course.
The best riders in the world make it look easy, but if you’ve ever been to a cyclocross race, then you know, it’s anything, but peanut butter mud underneath your tires, slipping and sliding, terrible nasty off-camera sectors that push.
To their absolute limit lap and after lap cross courses are constantly changing throughout the race and riders are pushed to their absolute maximum in skills, technical ability, physical agility, running, and mental fortitude.
Sometimes racing cyclocross doesn’t really look pretty. It’s just how you get the job done now.
Unlike road racing and riders in cyclocross interact with their fans and very closely cyclocross resembles more of the upper slopes of the torta.
Front-stage with the fans, screaming, running alongside the riders as they get to the finish.
Is almost always held in the fall and winter in the cold months because racing cyclocross in the summertime is just not that much different from someone that’s done it.
There’s just not enough airflow. It’s hot. The courses are slow. It’s just not exactly designed for that. It’s really to be held in winter conditions with getting often on the bike all the time helps keep your feet warm.
The slower speeds out in the course also allow riders to stay warm, being in the forest and the woods also cut down on the airflow in the wind.
So, you stay warmer and If you think about road racing in the wintertime with the cold and rainy, and sometimes even snowy weather, you can see why cyclocross makes a lot more sense than the cold and nasty.
Cyclocross racing can be easily compared to horse racing as it started by the shot of a gun or a whistle blonde.
If you can imagine a big horse race where everyone is greeted on the frontline, waiting there at the start to just punch out of the gate, as soon as they hear the whistle or the gun. It is super-fast.
The first laps of a cyclocross race, the first 15 or 20 minutes are absolutely electrifying in crazy with tons of jockeying for position with the first rider, trying to get to the first turn our technical section.
There’s a lot that happens in that first 60 seconds. In those first labs. Now it’s different than road racing as the men in the women, race cyclocross on the same day.
At the same course at the same venue, one after the other, in fact, women’s cyclocross races have had more spectators TV audience and fans than some of the men’s races in the past few seasons.
That’s due to such a deep talent pool, exciting battles out on the cross course that we’ve seen over the past few seasons.
Women’s cyclocross is continuing to gain popularity all over the world. It’s great to see that kind of introduction.
You’re probably asking yourself, where can I watch all of this great cyclocross racing? It sounds super cool.
Two more live on demand, racing coverage than ever. Basically, you can watch live and on-demand coverage of all women’s and men’s crosses.
It’s raised from the super prestige DVB trophy at theist cross series, as well as the 2020 European championships.
This season, my good friend, Marty McDonald, and I are gonna be calling the races and giving you the very best insight and analysis.
It says all season long and all the races are ad-free they’re available globally, except in the Heartland in Belgium, through the race pass on the GC.
So, make sure that you download and subscribe to get the race pass. Of course, territory restrictions apply.
So, please do check to make sure that you’re covered. But all of those series that I said above are covered globally, excluding Belgium.
So that is what cyclocross is and why you should watch it. I hope that we see many of you over on the race pass and the app this fall in winter.
If you are huge fans of cyclocross this is a great post for you and share your favorite race and what you’re looking forward to this season the most.
Thank you all so much for reading this article and if you want to learn more visit OutdoorXsports for more biking-related posts.