Cyclo-cross Season @PNECC

Have you heard of the phenomenon that is Cyclo-cross? Marvelled at the fitness and strength of the likes of Cyclo-Cross world champions Wout Van Aert and Mattheu Van Der Poel in the Tour de France, showing the ‘Roadies’ how to do it? Well, the Cyclo-Cross season is fast approaching, so if you want to prepare for next years Road Racing, there’s no better way than to race ‘cross over the winter.

Competing in the discipline is a great way to keep and build your fitness, improve your bike handling skills and have fun. PNECC are looking to encourage riders into the discipline, and so I, as the CX Sec, am looking to gauge interest, and offer my cross “wisdom” to anyone who’d like to give it a go.

Gordon Richardson will be giving CX coaching sessions throughout September, so look for his posts in the Members facebook group for details of times and places. Don’t be put off by what you might have seen on TV, CX is as serious as you want to make it. You don’t need a fleet of expensive carbon CX bikes with a full time jet washing pit crew. At local level just a mountain/gravel bike, or an old touring bike with a change to mud tyres, will suffice. A bucket of water and brush could be helpful too. Once you’ve dipped your toe, there is a whole world of tyre treads, pressures, frames, wheels, brakes, componentry, clothing and cleaning equipment that you can throw your hard earned money at, should you wish, but it won’t necessarily make you any faster.

The ethos is to have a laugh and enjoy yourself amongst friends. Races are age and gender categorised, so you’re up against your immediate peers, from Under 10s to Vet 50+. The mass starts are gridded by ability, and then you’ll find your place in the physical and mental battle against the course, weather and other fellow competitors. You’ll race around a ‘7 to 10 minute’ tape marked lap on varied terrain and surface textures, encountering several natural and manmade obstacles. Venues vary from school football fields to MX motocross courses. Depending on the venue and weather, you’ll tackle, long fast straight-aways, ascend/descend steep banks, steps, hurdle planks, technical wooded single track, slippy grass zigzags, sand pits, dusty gravel paths, boggy mud running sections, all designed to find the best bike rider. This makes it test of all roundedness, not just pure power. And if that isn’t enough to attract you, then there’s beer involved too! Preferably a Belgium brew, mostly consumed by the spectators, but a bottle of Leffe whilst relaxing/recovering on a Sunday evening goes down a treat.

Wessex Cyclo-Cross League oversees our regions events and their website contains plenty of information about itself. They also have a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter (@Wessexcx), and Instagram (@michewessexcx) which disseminates pertinent information. This coming seasons calendar has 13 races with the most local to us being in Southampton, Romsey and New Forest. PNECC are affiliated to the league, the points you accrue in each race are totalled for the season to give you a league position. If you are going to ride more than 2 events, it’s advisable to register with the league so you are given one number for the season, but this must be done before 1st September. No problem if you don’t though. It just means you get a different number for each race you do.