What is Cyclo-cross?

Imagine a cycling discipline that has all the excitement of fast road bikes; all the fun of sliding in the mud; teaches excellent bike control; promotes superb fitness; and is easy to get started in. What you’ve just imagined is cyclo-cross.

For children, the mixture of safe courses on challenging surfaces and a really family-friendly atmosphere means that cyclo-cross is an ideal introduction to cycle sport.

Cyclo-cross races involve riding laps of a relatively short circuit. The course itself is often based on a grass field, although there may be technical sections to test a rider’s skill. With the potential for any kind of weather, it offers young racers a great way to understand how their bike handles in different conditions. Slipping and sliding is also superb fun, and if a crash happens, it will only be onto a soft surface.

A cyclo-cross race begins with an exciting bunch start. Races are only held for between 30 to 60 minutes, so riders don’t have to worry too much about pacing themselves.

Once the race leader has completed a set distance or time, the lap bell is rung and everyone finishes on their next lap. This means competitors all finish roughly at the same time and there’s no waiting for slower riders to complete the same total distance.

What is cyclo-cross?

What is a cyclo-cross bike?

One of the beauties of cyclo-cross events for little riders is that they don’t need a specific bike; children can start racing on whatever they’re already riding. However, dedicated cyclo-cross bikes have frames and drop bars very similar to road bikes, but they come fitted with knobbly tyres for better grip on bumpy and gloopy surfaces.

Our Luath model, for example, makes for a perfect cross bike. The frame is lightweight for easy handling, speed and negotiating obstacles, but it’s also been designed specifically to accommodate wider, grippier cyclo-cross tyres. It also comes with extra brake levers on top of the handlebars for extra control off-road, and the fitted cantilever brakes won’t clog up with mud.

Then there are all the benefits of Islabikes’ proportionally-sized components, such as our unique and racing-inspired little saddles. Islabikes’ cranks are the perfect length for the bike’s intended age range and our gear choices have been specifically chosen so riders can spin efficiently all the time. In fact, the Luath could have been custom-built for your little cyclo-cross racer.

What is cyclo-cross?

How do you get started?

It’s particularly easy to start cyclo-cross racing because there is a thriving network of races across the country. In fact, although the traditional cyclo-cross season runs from autumn to spring, the discipline is now so popular in some areas there are summer races, too.

If you’ve never contacted your local cycling club before, cyclo-cross is a great way to meet them. Most established clubs will either run cyclo-cross races themselves or know a local league. To discover your local cycling clubs use the British Cycling club finder, here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/clubfinder

The British Cycling website can also help you find your nearest cyclo-cross races, here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/cyclocross

With a vibrant racing community, you will probably find that your local league has an event closer than you thought. And because cyclo-cross is such a family-friendly experience, most events will have children’s races.

One word of warning, though: cyclo-cross events and organisers are known for their warm welcome. So even if mum and dad have absolutely no intention to go racing, they may find themselves being persuaded into giving it a try.

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