Cross Fanatics

Cyclo-cross fanatics

With Islabikes’ founder and director Isla Rowntree a three-time British cyclo-cross champion, it’s no surprise that cyclo-cross is a vital part of Islabikes’ DNA. In fact, the difficulty Isla faced in finding bikes to fit her own small stature inspired and informed her quest to make size-specific bikes for children. Isla still rides her cyclo-cross bike all year round, using it to test many of the innovations we later fit to our production bikes.

And it’s not just Isla who loves cyclo-cross. Here are just a couple of Islabikes’ ’cross-crazy staff.

Islabikes Cyclo-cross

Steve Chapman

Age: 32
Years working at Islabikes: 1

“I’m quite new to cyclo-cross, I come from more of a mountain bike background. I only started racing cyclo-cross last year and that was as a training tool in the off-season from mountain biking. I started racing the ’cross series on my mountain bike. I just really loved the atmosphere of the events. It seemed to be so family orientated. There was a real feeling of pitching in with others. I think because of the time of year, with it being a winter sport, it means that people have to work together quite a bit to get through it. There’s a real feeling of camaraderie.”

“Last year I only took part at regional events, but this year I want to do much more, so my new bikes will help me do that. They are custom-made here at Islabikes using Reynolds 853 steel tubing, and designed by Isla. We looked at the fit I had on my road bike to start with. I’d never had a cross bike before so this was my first introduction to them and at the moment I’m riding them all the time. Although a lot of people think of steel as being heavy, they are incredibly light. I’m signed up to do the Three Peaks race, which is very different from a typical ’cross race, and the bikes have been built with that in mind.”

Favourite ice-cream: Salted caramel
Favourite TV show: Peep Show
Favourite hobby other than cycling: Rock climbing and woodcarving

Islabikes Cyclo-cross

Rob Burns

Age: 26
Years working at Islabikes: 7

“I enjoy riding ’cross so much because of the variety of racing you get through a season, particularly in the UK. Starting out in September it’s all about speed and acceleration as conditions are normally dry and fast. However, by December it’s all about slogging it out and finding the optimum line through the sludge. This typically means more running and, of course, more frantic bike changes in the pits. As a bike fanatic I would also have to say I love the bikes! Cyclo-cross bikes come in lots of different varieties but finding the right combination is key to getting the most out of your machine.”

“I find cyclo-cross much more inclusive than other cycle sports. You can start off as a complete novice and race at any local league. It’s also a great way to get children involved in cycle sport as they can start off at any age and participate in safe closed circuit racing. I remember doing my first ’cross race as an under-10 on a Frankenstein mountain bike my dad had concocted for me, and I have been hooked pretty much ever since. Perhaps lapping my older sister on the day was as good as a win at the time!”

“I have a lot of fond memories of racing ’cross but probably one of the funniest was when I wasn’t actually riding. I was pitting for my dad at a National Trophy Round at Rutland Water. The race was particularly muddy and the pits were frantic with lots of changes as riders were coming in every half lap for a fresh bike. I was situated halfway into the pit straight and, as my dad came in, I moved out ready for the change. I was horrified to see that he stopped too early and tried to take another rider’s bike from a man who was wearing the same bright yellow hat as me! After a short tussle with a very bemused pitman dad realised it was the wrong bike and looked up to see that it wasn’t me holding it. Having mistakenly tried to steal the bicycle he apologised and quickly turned and ran towards me to get his actual bike!”

Favourite ice-cream: Vanilla
Favourite TV show: QI
Favourite hobby other than cycling: Tennis

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