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What Is Cyclocross? How Long Does A Cross Race Last?

Updated on February 18, 2013

An hour of pain on a bicycle

What is cyclocross? Cyclo-cross is a form of cycling sport. Cyclocross (or ‘Cross or CX) events take place usually during the autumn and winter months. And consist of multiple laps of a course of approximately 2-4 kilometers in length which features grass, woodland trails and singletrack, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount and remount in one motion while carrying the bike. Courses also feature lots of corners and technical sections to test every rider in the field.

Cyclo cross in action

Cyclo cross in action- jumping a barrier
Cyclo cross in action- jumping a barrier | Source

How long does a cyclo cross race last?

Generally a cx race lasts around 50 minutes however elite races can last longer. Beginners races are becoming more common and these can last around 30-40 minutes and are a great introduction to the sport.

Do I need a special bike for a cyclocross race?

You can ride a cyclocross race on a mountain bike, however for more serious competition a cyclo cross bike is a better choice, A ‘cross bike is very similar to a road bike but with features like wider knobbled tires and greater clearances that help it to deal with muddy conditions which would otherwise clog the frame with mud. Cyclo cross bikes are also significantly lighter than an mtb which makes the bicycle much easier to carry over obstacles.

Cyclocross in action

cyclo cross in action
cyclo cross in action | Source

Can cyclo cross help your bike riding skils and fitness?

Cyclocross is a great way to improve skills for a cyclist, especially during the winter period as it can help maintain cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength. The technical nature of ‘cross means that it improves a cyclist’s cornering skills, descending and general bike handling as cx helps you to handle your bike in all conditions.

Cyclocross techniques and tactics

Cyclo cross is a cycling event like no other. It is recommended to watch a race in action prior to competing to get an idea of what a race is like and to give you an idea of the techniques such as dismounting and re-mounting your bike after carrying it over obstacles like barriers. Mastering these takes time!

Sometimes you just have to get off and run in a cross race

Sometimes you just have to get off and run in a cross race
Sometimes you just have to get off and run in a cross race | Source

Darling, I need another cyclo cross bike!

Serious cyclocross racers often have two or more bikes. One for riding and one in the pit area (think formula one style pit lanes). They usually have a mechanic who is responsible for preparing the bike for the rider to swap.


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    • profile image

      jason 5 years ago

      Choose a bike that fits your body. This point is less obvious than it might sound. Bikes come in dramatically different shapes and sizes, and so does the

    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 6 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Thanks Kitty, cyclo cross is hard work, although you can take it at your own pace. Thanks for the feedback. CF

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Voted up and awesome! I'd never heard of cyclocross until now. You truly are a very knowledgeable person in the area of sports, and cycling. Great stuff. Although, I think I would pass out from all the pedaling. :)