Are you kidding me ? Why would anyone in their right mind deliberately take their pride and joy into a field or down a muddy trail, never mind the problems with punctures, getting stuck in mud, the hours needed afterward to fettle your beloved back to its shiny self ? After all it only takes a grain of dust to mess up my perfect gear shifting ! Madness !!
So, welcome to Cyclocross !!
So I am not advocating you take your road bike “off road”, no not at all…unless you’ve been bissfully unaware of developments, the world of cycling has gone mad for cyclocross (or CX)…and its more utilitarion cousin, the gravel bike. Now I am not going to talk here about the differences and pros/cons of Cyclocross versus Gravel versus 29er’s, etc, but what I will tell you is that this type of riding is not only a huge amount of fun, but will improve your bike handling skills and is a fantastic way to keep riding when the weather prevents your normal road cycling regime.
What’s the fun of it ? For a start, CX bikes are built for throwing around mud and sand (and snow!). At a technical level they have competitive geometries, wider wheels and disc brakes, but in essence they enable you to ride fast through most conditions and hit similar top end speeds to road bikes when you get back on the tarmac, ie perfect for mixed surface riding.
So I asked the Gemma Melton (@gemmamelton) the Queen of Suffolk’s cyclocross scene to tell us a litle more about the fun of mud…i mean cyclocross.
Gemma started by saying, “It’s an alternative to being on the turbo in the winter. You can go really fast on a CX bike, the early season races in September are usually the driest and the fastest ones to try if you aren’t keen on running or getting too muddy! You can improve your cornering and handling skills and when you next find yourself in a wet road race, you will be fearless! No one takes themselves to seriously – fall off no problem, covered in mud, who cares? You can practise in a park, in a large garden, in the forest, down some dirt tracks, it gets you out and about in places you may not normally ride. A little bit of mud never hurt anyone – it’s actually softer to land on! There’s a lot of cleaning of bike and kit to do but it’s well worth it for meeting new people and training hard during the winter months when motivation might otherwise be low”.
Gemma continued, “Thinking about trying it? Borrow a bike if you don’t have one and try riding on a bridleway, in the forest or around a grassy playing field. Dismount and remount are tricky, don’t worry if you can’t do them, they come with practice and there’re some great youtube videos out there. In a race situation you will just naturally get on and off as quick as you can so not too loose too much time. Be fearless – what’s the worst that could happen – hit it hard and your bike will get over it/ around it, through it.”
So, there we have it from the expert. Cyclocross isn’t just for winter riding, but as long as we continue to have rain and mud, for me it’s a winner.
Never Say Never
13 Mar 2018
Storms and Statistics
1 Mar 2018
The importance of the correct bike setup, by Sean Holland
20 Feb 2018
Following up on the recent research cited by the BBC, Time Magazine and other press articles that confirm that cyclists over 55 can have immune systems of 20 year olds. So if you’ve never thought of cycling as a means to keep fit, or stay young, we need to consider is it ever too late or are you ever too unfit to take up cycling ?A quick reality check using Google will show you many pictures of spritely 70 years, or even 90 year olds still cycling their bikes as a means of keeping fit and for general well-being and recreation. But what about us 40-somethings and 50-somethings, heck even 60-somethings who’ve spent a considerable portion of their lives less active than they would have preferred. Maybe the dreaded middle age paunch or other areas of spread may have crept up on you, and hence you believe your days of having an active life are over. Maybe you are like I was, 48 at the time, drifting into sedentary life, high blood pressure and the spectre of type 2 diabetes knocking on the door.Questions and doubts are aplenty, dragging you back, such as “isn’t it too late in my life?”, “do I have the energy to make a change?”, “can I afford the time?” And “won’t I make a fool of myself?”. It’s all too easy to let these nagging doubts stop you.At Cycle For Fitness we understand, because we have stood in your shoes. We have looked out of the window, knowing we need to do something to change our situation, but will-power is a fickle friend, motivation is easily lost, and fear keeps us putting it off. We make excuses, just another month and I’ll do something about it… maybe you are like one of our friends who waited for that heart attack to happen as their kick up the backside.The truth is you are never too old, never too unfit. The secret is to understand where you are on your journey and plan accordingly. If you haven’t ridden for a while, then 20 minutes is all you need as a starting point, then with a series of short but well planned workouts you can begin to build up strength and stamina, increasing your distance, gaining more confidence in your ability to ride a bike and perhaps pushing your heart rate a little more to improve your fitness and begin to lose a little of those extra pounds you’ve been carrying.If this sounds like you, then please do get in touch, we have plans to suit all abilities, with advice and guidance on tap from a British Cycling certified coach who has been there, worn the tee-shirt and wishes more than anything else to pass along his experience.Remember, you are never too old or too unfit. It just takes one small step to start your journey.Cautionary note : Before you go jumping on any bike thinking you are Froome or Lizzie, contact me and I will be delighted to send you the standard Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire that will tell you if you should check with your doctor before you start any exercise.
Today is the first day of Spring…but someone needs to tell the weather gods that as Storm Emma approaches from the South to devour what is left of our resolve having already faced the Beast of the East.
As a cyclist with ambitions to ride almost come what may, I have succumbed to the misery that is ‘indoors’. My chain spins silently and cleanly as it tranverses onto the gears that I direct with a sublime touch of the levers, my tyres are pumped to optimum pressure for the wet roads and ache to feel the tarmac under their carcass, my all-weather gear lays sprawled across the bed like a lover waiting for their embrace.
But I hesitate, amber and red warnings flash across screens like demons teasing us to come on and have a go if you think you are hard enough.
Am I ?, should I ? can that wonderful feeling of freedom wait…just a one or two days longer.
There are many types of statistics, the ones you get from Strava for riding that hill or segment just a little harder than before, and the type where they put a little plastic band around your wrist (or toe) if you become the statistic.
So I’ll wave the Beast and Emma through, there’s always the weekend !
Safe Riding !!