Brace yourselves, cross is coming.
Our British Cyclocross Schools champions
Junior riders at Stratford Cycling Club ride competatively all year round with many taking part in the West Midlands Cyclo Cross League.
This is a well established league and sees riders of all ages compete in the dirt, mud and gravel over the winter months. For the junior riders, the races are grouped into U8, U10, U12, Youth - U14 and Youth - U16. They are always well attended and well run events. It's a good idea to register for the league as places on the day can be limited.
Cyclocross races typically use a mix of surfaces - grass, gravel, dirt tracks and tarmac. Generally, they all usually end up being mud, but that's all part of the fun! Older riders will have to tackle obstacles in addition to the mud, the climbs and the bumps.
Stratford Cycling Club runs our round of the league on the 17th September, and it would be great to see as many riders racing as we can.
But, if you've not tried Cyclocross before, why give it a go?
Cross racing is a great opportunity for younger riders to develop their bike handling skills and keep up fitness over the winter. Riding in the mud and wet of a British winter is a great opportunity to hone those riding skills and, to be honest, spend a good time getting mucky and messy.
You will need a bike with cross tyres to be able to cope with the conditions. Slick road tyres are not going to work in these races. You don't need a cross specific bike, though. Bikes like those from IslaBikes or Frog will have clearance for both road and cross tyres and usually come with a set of both. Brakes will need to be able to cope with grime and grot, so discs or cantilevers are better than road brakes which won't always accept the wider cross tyres. Riders ought to have good, robust clothing and expect rain/cold so dress accordingly. Clear lense glasses are a good idea to keep eyes free of muck and grit.
And if you need any further motivation, the WMCCL league has even had riders complete races on a balance bike!
In recent years British Junior riders have seen a lot of success on the international stage. Tom Pidcock became the 2017 World Junior Cyclo Cross champion as part of a British 1-2-3 with Daniel Tulett and Ben Turner taking silver and bronze. Tom went on to win the 2017 Junior Paris-Roubaix!
There are plenty of experienced Cross riders and coaches at Straford Cycling Club, so why not give it a go and get muddy this winter! Look out for more information about training sessions in the coming weeks.