What is it?

Cyclo-cross is a form of off-road cycling that takes place on modified road bikes. The sport is a total body workout, mixing running, riding and carrying, and requires skillful bike handling to stay upright.

Cyclo-cross dates back to the early 1900s and is hugely popular in Belgium, Netherlands and northern France with top races being shown on mainstream TV channels.

Races typically last 30 minutes to an hour and are held on short courses over grass, tarmac, sand, dirt and mud.

Obstacles or small man-made barriers are often found on courses, which force riders to dismount and carry their bikes.

Do I need a special bike?

Top of the range 'cross bikes look like road bikes - with lightweight frames, carbon forks and drop handlebars - but have several mountain bike components such as knobbly tyres, mountain bike clipless pedals, small gear ratios and lots of mud clearance.

However, many beginners find mountain bikes are more than adequate.

Where to race:

Local races take place at the following local locations:

  • Gloucester Boating Lake, Over Causeway, Gloucester, GL1 2TF
  • Purdown, off Tackley road, Stapleton, Bristol, BS16 5EE
  • Lydiard Park, Hook Street, Lydiard Tregoze, Swindon, SN5 3PA
  • Stroud Leisure Centre, Stratford Park, Stroud, GL5 4AF
  • Hengrove Leisure Park, Bristol, BS14 0HR
  • Conham River Park, Conham Hill, Church Road, Hanham, Bristol, BS15 3AW
  • Pittville Park, Tommy Taylors Lane, Cheltenham, GL50 4RN
  • Ashton Court Park Estate, New Barn Wood, Ashton, Bristol, BS41 9JN
  • Oldbury Court Estate, Oldbury Court Road, Fishponds, Bristol, BS16 2HH
  • St. Georges Park, Bristol, BS5 8FG
  • Beaufort School, Holmleigh Park, Tuffley, Gloucester, GL4 0RT

Events typically take place during the winter months. Dates for all the local events can be found on the British Cycling website.

Find out more:

In the West of England region, races are part of the British Cycling Western Cyclo-cross League. Information can also be found on the Western League Facebook discussion group.

In the film clip below, David Fletcher, U23 British cyclo-cross champion, gives you the low-down on this fast growing sport.

Image above courtesy of Scott Mc.