How It Works
Riders complete multiple laps on timed, closed, off-road courses that include obstacles such as wooden barriers, steep run-ups, and sand pits that require riders to dismount and carry their bikes. Most amateur events take 40 to 45 minutes to finish. Riders wear mountain bike shoes with grippy treads but ride cyclocross-specific bikes, though some races allow mountain bikes. Check with the organizer before you enter.
“There’s something for everyone in ‘cross,” says six-time national champion Tim Johnson, who rides for the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team. “Where road racing might seem intimidating with its tactics and road rash, ’cross is simple and anything goes.” And because events take place in the fall and winter, you get a workout that carries you through the off-season.
What to Expect
Rowdy, possibly inebriated but well-intentioned spectators cheering from the sidelines.
Dismount: As you approach an obstacle, slow down and coast. With hands on the hoods, unclip your right foot, then swing your right leg back and around the saddle, bringing it between the bike and your left leg. As the bike slows, step to the ground with your right foot and unclip your left foot. Give yourself time to take a few strides before the obstacle.
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Remount: Keep moving forward and, with your bike on the ground and hands on the bar, point the bike in the direction you need to go. Step forward with your left foot and swing your right leg behind you and over the saddle. Try to land (gently) on the inside of your right thigh, then slide onto the saddle. Start a pedaling motion, find the pedals, and clip in.