Captivating Cyclocross

By Ojas Joshi

Winter means the end of the road cycling season. Days shorten, temperatures drop, and snow & rain plummet mercilessly. In these times, cyclists turn to a grittier, dirtier discipline: cyclocross. 

Cyclocross races consist of short laps around an obstacle-filled circuit. Often, riders have to contend with mud pits, ice patches, sand traps, and log hurdles as they navigate the course. Competitors are forced to quickly mount and dismount from their bikes during these races, straddling their bikes over their shoulders as they slip N slide through the course. Cyclocross races are held in any weather condition: snow, sleet, or rain, the show must go on. 

Riding through the rain, riding through the snow, riding through the sand—cyclocross races demand the best of every rider. Not only does cyclocross necessitate extreme physical fitness, but it also requires nimble bike control and technical skill. Often, some of the world’s most premier road cyclists are left spinning in the mud, unable to keep up with the skill of the discipline. Cyclocross races are some of my favorites to watch because of their unpredictable nature. Riders are prone to mechanical failures or crashes at any time, and will often have to claw their way back into a race through sheer power. Athletes throw in attacks (large surges of speed) randomly throughout the race, adding bursts of entertainment to every race. Pelotons (large groups of riders that reduce air resistance) are nonexistent; truly, every rider is riding for themselves.

The UCI Cyclocross World Championships will be held from February 3 – 5 in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. Tune in for some great action!