***NEWSFLASH: GET £1.50 off tickets to the Cycle Show in Birmingham – where you can see and take part in a thrilling CX race. Just use the code TWC when checking out***
Summer is still definitely here, but as September gets closer, the words ‘cyclocross season’ are starting to dance about in the minds of a certain breed of cyclist.
Recently I got my first email from a local cyclocross race organiser (yes, you – Bill from London and South East!), letting me know entries were open for the 2015/2016 season. Cue: much excitement.
Cyclocross racing is basically a chance to be an absolute child – 30 to 60 minutes of blasting around a field repeating short laps, with a couple of jumps thrown in to add not-really-needed variety. The worst that can happen is you get covered in mud, which in all honesty is actually quite fun.
There are tons of races around, but if you’re looking for something alongside a host of other attractions, the event at the Cycle Show, held at the NEC in Birmingham on 26 September might be right up your street.
The women’s race will be 35 minutes long, covering 2km laps through the NEC woodlands. If you’re a cycling family, there are also races for men, vets, and juniors, alongside elite races – and the organisers have stayed true to equality in providing identical prize money for men and women (hallelujah!).
Tempted? We chatted to Annie Simpson, of Hope Factory Racing, who won the elite women’s race last year…
TWC: What do you find the most enjoyable about cyclocross? How does it differ to other forms of cycling?
Annie: I like it because it’s a test of your physical but technical ability too. Plus for me, with a full-time job, I find it easier to train for a race that is 40 minutes long with the time I have. I also like the fact you have to adjust to conditions – sun, mud, wind, ice, snow; you can get it all and it keeps you on your toes!
Cyclocross can look a bit scary from the outside – what advice would you give a beginner or first time racer?
Cyclocross is actually really accessible and fun – races often take place in parks or at school playing fields. It’s a short lap – for women, it’s only around 40 minutes which is quite easy to get your head around. If there are elements you can’t or don’t want to ride, you can get off and run which is sometimes even quicker, meaning you never have to be out of your comfort zone.
It’s always a good idea to get there early – practice the lap beforehand and you find you’ll improve as the race goes along.