Cyclocross has not yet received the attention it deserves in Russia. Despite the fact that this discipline unites cyclists from all over the world, cyclocross is not part of the Russian Olympics, and therefore it is not funded by the government.
Nevertheless, every year more and more athletes take part and try their hand at cycling off-road. It is believed that the first cyclocross race was held in France in 1902. Then the cyclocross discipline spread to European countries, where it became very popular among European cyclists.
The first world championship cyclocross was also held in France, where in the mid-20th century brought together representatives of cycling in many countries. The French won the first world championship.
Now the leading positions in cyclo-cross are:
- among the men – the Belgians and the Dutch;
- Among women – Americans and Britons.
The world championship is held annually in January. As mentioned earlier, Russia does not take part in cyclo-cross. However, the country holds regional championships, where Russian cyclists demonstrate their cycling skills in non-standard conditions.
What is cyclocross
What is the sport discipline “Velocross”? Velocross is a race in which athletes take part on bicycles and overcome a distance consisting of various road conditions, in any weather. The race course consists of sections that may include the following road surfaces:
- a variety of obstacles (hills, hillocks, pits, tree roots, and others).
Each cyclocross course is unique and designed individually. Some sections are inaccessible to ride, so the cyclocross athletes have to run with the bike on the shoulder.
The distance consists of several laps and has a special area where the cyclist can change the bike or with the help of staff to fix a breakdown. Naturally, not every bike can overcome such a route. Therefore, great attention should be paid to the selection of a suitable bike. On average, cyclocross lasts:
- for men – a little over an hour;
- For women – about 40 minutes.
The cyclocross championship is held in the winter season. So that athletes can also take part in road cycling, which takes place in the summer.
Equipment and bikes for cyclocross
The cross bike is the main helper of the race participant. The cross model has become very popular around the world and is a combination of road bike and mountain bike.
The advantages of the cross bike:
- Withstands a variety of road conditions (from flat asphalt to off-road).
- Low weight (easy to carry on the shoulder).
- Suitable for long distances.
- Shock resistance under load.
- High traction.
Frame design is designed for off-road use and has an elevated rear carriage. Often curved to make it easy for athletes to carry the bike on their shoulder.
The bike is made of the following materials:
The most budget options are cross bikes, made entirely of aluminum.
The structure of the handlebar is similar to the racing models, its design is curved. Popularly, this form of handlebar has the name “ram’s horns”.
The bike is designed to ride in lower gears. Therefore, it is not suitable for racing on the highway. But it is perfect for daily moving in town or for traveling on rough terrain.
The bike can be fitted with sprockets with any number of teeth. The smaller the number of teeth, the easier it is to ride on hilly terrain. For mountain climbing, sprockets with 11 to 32 teeth are better. The most common are sprockets with 46 and 36 teeth.
A distinctive feature of the cross bike is the location of the cable at the top of the frame. Such a position prevents dirt from getting into the system. Consequently, this bike perfectly withstands riding in the snow, rain, “swimming in the mud” and other extreme weather conditions.
Bicycle tires for cross-country bikes
Diameter wheels – 28 inches. This size reduces maneuverability on the highway, but makes it easier to climb mountains. The tires are adapted for long rides off-road and contain a deep tread pattern. This makes it possible to ride on sand, gravel and other unusual road surfaces.
The tire width for cyclocross bikes varies up to 42 millimeters. Professionals choose tubular tires in which the tire and rim are glued together. This tire structure is only possible on wheels made of carbon.
Today’s manufacturers offer a wide range of tires from smooth to studded options. In addition to tubular tires, cyclocross also uses standard clincher or tubeless tires.
Tire pressure is adjusted depending on the road surface and weather conditions. The lower the pressure, the greater the area of the tires in contact with the ground. That’s why athletes lower tire pressures when riding in sand, gravel, swamp, and other difficult conditions.
Usually, professionals start the race with a pressure of 30 psi, and then gradually lower the value. The average bike tire pressure on a race course is in the 15 to 25 psi range. If you buy a cross bike not for racing, but for daily walks on the paved road, then initially set the value in the range of 50 psi.
Unlike road models equipped with pincer brakes, cyclocross bikes can have one of two brake options:
- cantilever brakes;
- disc brakes.
Originally, cantilever brakes were used. Their characteristic feature is a large gap between the bike frame and the wheel rim. Such a gap prevents deterioration of the elements from getting dirt in the parts of the mechanisms.
Later, athletes participating in cyclocross were allowed to use disc brakes. Professionals gradually switched to them, as disc brakes offer a number of advantages:
- Capable of producing faster braking than other types.
- Easy to maintain and require no additional maintenance.
- Work in dirt and other non-standard conditions.
Of the two types, cantilever brakes are much cheaper, so they are often used by beginners in competition.
Footwear and pedals
Shoes should be chosen in which it will also be convenient to move in those areas where athletes will have to get off the bike and carry it in their hands.
As pedals, one of two options is chosen:
- Contact pedals.
- Models from racing bikes.
Beginners are advised to start with regular pedals, and then move on to those that are more comfortable to use.
For contact ones, use specialized shoes that snap and lock into the pedals with metal spikes. Such models are double-sided and also protected against dirt getting into the mechanism. With contact pedals, your foot will not slip even when riding through puddles and swamps.
About the usefulness of cyclocross
The usefulness of cyclocross cannot be expressed in one sentence. A route through the woods, sand, swamps, hills, asphalt, branches and trees has the following undeniable benefits:
- Feeling of Celebration. The route on the race track is accompanied by an atmosphere of fun and joy. Athletes meet the next obstacles on the course with a smile and are charged with positive energy.
- Working out the whole body. Due to the fact that cycling engages all the muscles of the body, athletes get a full workout for the arms, back, legs, as well as the shoulders and neck.
- Acquisition of cycling skills in unusual conditions. After overcoming the distance at the cyclocross, the rider can safely consider himself a cycling professional. Standard routes will not present difficulties, and any surprises will not be able to knock out of the rut.
- Picturesque scenery. The race course runs outside the city through fields and countryside. Which means you can enjoy the fresh air, as well as the absence of pedestrians and cars.
- Training in the air in all weather conditions. Cyclocross provides an opportunity to test yourself in extreme conditions in both snow and rain. The worse the weather, the better for the race participants.
At first glance, cyclocross may seem like a very strange sport. Participants compete in overcoming obstacles, covered in a layer of mud, riding through swamps and sands, and sometimes start dragging their bicycle on their shoulder. But despite such a difficult route, the cyclists gain a lot of pleasant impressions.
Taking part in a cyclocross is the best way to test your bike skills. To prepare for the competition, athletes spend a lot of time and effort on training, during which they pump up certain skills and abilities.
The sport discipline is gaining momentum every year and involves more and more participants. The most important thing in cyclocross is to overcome obstacles on your own, as well as get a lot of positive emotions from a non-standard bike ride.