Cyclocross 101

What is Cyclocross?

  • Cyclocross is an offroad racing discipline held in parks and grassy areas during the autumn and winter.
  • Cyclocross is a great way for people to get into cycling and have fun, improve their skills and bike handling, particularly youth riders. Races are short and you don’t need to train a huge amount to get by.
  • Races are held on a short course where competitors complete a number of laps, or are limited to a set time. For women, this is usually between 40-50 minutes long.
  • Cyclocross races are mass start races. All riders start at the same time, and riders are sometimes gridded according to their ability. This means that more experienced racers start at the front of the pack.
  • Tracks can have a variety of technical features such as wooden boards, steep banks, steps, and sand pits.
  • Riders have to dismount and carry their bikes during races to overcome these obstacles.
  • Although cyclocross has only recently been growing for women in Ireland, riders such as Maria Larkin and Lara Gillespie have been very successful in international races.

What bike do I need?

  • A cyclocross bike looks similar to a road bike but with some key differences.
  • Knobbly tyres are used instead of smooth tyres.
  • Frames allow for bigger tyre clearance. This means that when tyres get muddy, there is more space for the tyre to move around the frame.
  • Frames can also have different geometry than road bikes to help with carrying and stability.
  • Disk or cantilever brakes are used for more powerful braking in mucky conditions.
  • Some cyclocross bikes use lower gearing than road bikes.
  • Most riders would use SPD or clipless shoes and pedals.
700 M CAADX Tiagra

What gear do I need?

  • An open faced helmet is mandatory for cyclocross racing
  • Road style clothing, such as lyrca shorts/leggings and tight jerseys are worn. Some riders also use skinsuits.
  • As cyclocross is a winter sport, many riders also use arm and leg warmers and thicker leggings.
  • Mountain bike style SPD or clipless shoes are usually worn instead of road style shoes. These shoes have more grip and help riders run up steep banks.
  • Full finger gloves are usually recommended to help with grip and freezing fingers.

Where can I start riding cyclocross?

The great benefit of cyclocross is that it can be done almost anywhere. Although there is currently no specific cyclocross venue in Ireland, most riders practice in public parks and open green spaces.

Which clubs specialize in cyclocross?

How can I start racing cyclocross?

Plan your races using this calendar

Find out more about cyclocross by checking out some of these links.

For more details contact Andy Layhe, Cyclocross Cycling Ireland Cyclocross Coordinator: