Cyclocross Season

It’s that time of year again; the season between summer and winter when bike riding temporarily loses it’s identity. It’s a tricky time of year. The weather can be all over the place, North American road and triathlon races are by and large finished and it’s hard to know what kind of bike you are supposed to ride or whether you are supposed to ride at all.

Your road bike is a bit of a prima donna; it likes warm weather, clean streets and the energy of a good group. Your tri bike is even more of a snob, craving long open stretches of road in the blazing sun, you can’t even think about taking that out in the fall months without serious attitude. Your mountain bike is always eager to go out but it craves the trail networks, some mud and a few decent jumps. Granted the fall months are great for this but what if you just want to get out and do some long consistent riding?

Well there is a solution and it’s the cyclocross bike. Yes it’s totally fine to justify the purchase of yet another bike. If you already have three then why not four? Four is a nice round number if you’re a cyclist. You cover off all your conceivable bases unless of course you live in a city whereby you will probably need to purchase a really cool cruiser bike for those trendy jaunts about town.

Cyclocross has grown significantly in North America over the past few years. A good example is a small weekly race series here in Victoria that started several years ago with attendance around 15 people. Now there are close to 100 people ever week who race around various parks in town as the sun is setting on cool fall evenings.

Cyclocross offers the perfect balance between road riding and mountain biking and is ideal for semi off road adventures. Cross bikes typically take the shape of a normal road bike with a few small tweaks including a higher bottom bracket for greater clearance and tires that literally cross between road and mountain. Similar to a road bike, they are thin but with small treads like a mountain bike.

The main benefits to riding a cross bike at this time of year are numerous. You can access any type of road or bike path or just stay on the road. You won’t be moving as fast as when you are on a road bike so generally cooler conditions don’t affect you as much. Cross bikes generally have more clearance for fenders which is a good thing if you are planning on doing a fair bit on the road in wet conditions. In places like Victoria where we ride all winter most people are on cross bikes for this reason.

Cross bikes are typically cost effective unless you are fanatic about the component group you chose to run. Usually the frames are a little heavier and the components are not so high end so you can get into it for about a thousand dollars, which is not bad in todays often high-priced bike world. If you are really thrifty you will realize that your cross bike can essentially be transformed into a road bike with a $50 tire change and voila you’ve got a bike for all seasons.

So if you are sitting there thinking of all kinds of lame excuses why you can’t ride this fall why not dig into the cross scene? Most bike companies have cross bikes in their line up at very reasonable prices. Who knows, you’ll probably venture out onto some roads you would never dare touch with your road or triathlon bike. Have fun!


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