Are you already very ‘cross? Or just ‘cross curious? The end of September brings many things – the official start of Autumn for one – but for the dropbar cyclist it means just one thing. The start of the cyclocross season.
Every year lately it seems that this previously cult-only genre of cycling gets more and more popular and almost mainstream.
Whether you’ve been bitten by the bug or you’re just thinking of dipping your toe in, here’s a few things that will ease the way.
What: A sealed-from-the-elements cable system.
Why: Cyclocross courses are mudfests, sealed cabling keeps your braking crisp and reliable.
What: Bar tape with a bit more padding to it.
Why: You tend to grasp your bars tighter during ‘cross and the terrain is inherently rougher.
What: A double chainset with a more usefully sized outer chainring.
Why: If your ‘cross bike came with a massive big ring, this combo will make life a bit easier on steeper terrain.
What: A warm and waterproof hat.
Why: You’ll be glad of something like this during the before and after a soggy ‘cross race.
What: 30-35mm knobbly tyres.
Why: A bit more cushioning and grip.
What: Double-sided clipless pedals with lots of mud-shedding room. MTB shoes to go with these pedals.
Why: During ‘cross you’re constantly dismounting and remounting your bike – covered in filth. The shoes have the correct cleat holes and the aggressive tread sole for clambering up grassy climbs.
What: Pretty much everything that bike cleaning maestros Muc Off make, in a handy tub.
Why: You’ve seen the state of ‘cross bikes after a race right?
What: A ramp to guide your chain and reduce the possibility of your chain dropping off the small chainring.
Why: The rough terrain and often panicky gear selections during ‘cross put your chain through lots of demands.
What: A warming oil that gets your legs warmed up and ready for full-on racing that begins right from the starting pistol.
Why: ‘Cross is cold. Race starts are fast and furious. Perform better and with less chance of muscle injury too.
What: A bike for cyclocross.
Why: If you don’t have one, you’ll need one. If you do have one, a new one with disc brakes is very tempting.
Find yourself a ‘cross race
The only thing left to do now is find a race to have a go at. There are loads of local races happening every week throughout Autumn and into Winter.
At chance would have it (ahem) the most iconic cyclocross event in the UK – nay, the world – is happening this coming weekend – The 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross.
An impressively ludicrous route involving the three biggest lumps in t’ Yorkshire Dales – Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent. It’s big and it’s hard. The video below makes it look difficult enough. Imagine it if rains though…