EnCYCLINGpedia: Cyclo-cross


Often referred to as the fastest-growing discipline of competitive cycling, cyclo-cross is a unique, non-Olympic discipline of cycling that can best be described as a cross between road cycling, mountain biking and steeplechase.

Competitors race primarily on road bikes modified with skinny, knobby tires, disc brakes and slightly different geometry which allows for better clearance when passing over various obstacles.

Cyclo-cross races generally take place on a closed circuit in a park or other open land with competitors racing multiple laps. Since the cyclo-cross season generally takes place from September to February, races are often times plagued with adverse weather conditions such as snow, rain, wind, and mud – all of which add to the sport’s allure.

Riders begin in mass-start fashion and must navigate through both paved and off-road terrain, often times dismounting their bikes to hurdle barriers, climb steep hills or stairs, or traverse other obstacles.

Weather conditions aside, cyclo-cross racing is one of the most spectator-friendly disciplines of competitive cycling given the short, closed course, the fast pace, the unique equipment and the interesting obstacles the competitors are faced with. Also, with relatively few cyclo-cross specialists in the world, the discipline lends itself to road and mountain bike athletes alike as riders from both major disciplines compete on the ‘cross circuit each year. Throughout the fall and winter, cyclo-cross racing provides specialists in other disciplines with a competitive outlet during the off-season.

Further Reading