Traditionally held through the winter season, cyclo-cross (often seen written as ‘CycloX’ or simply ‘CX’) is a an off-road mass start form of racing. The courses vary in technical difficulty, with some being held on a large field through a course marked out by tape, and others around cross-country routes with lots of ups and downs and difficult wooded sections. Obstacles often form part of the course and it is rare for a cyclo-cross race to not feature at least one place where the rider needs to dismount and carry their bike.
Although the riders start together, the nature of this type of racing means that after a short time the whole field will be strung out and it almost becomes an individual time trial, with a not much passing taking place.
Cyclo-cross is a great introduction to massed-start racing though, and as the speeds are relatively low if you do have a tumble the potential for injury is minimal. Most riders will use a dedicated ‘cross bike to race on, which resembles a road bike in that it will have drop handlebars, but it will have disc or cantilever brakes and have bigger tyres. It is also entirely possible to race CycloX on a mountain bike, however.
As with road racing we have a group of ‘muddy riders’ who take part in races throughout the winter and who are always looking for others to join them (or turn up to support and be pit stop buddies).