The Belgians are good at it, very good at it. As are the Dutch. Indeed Belgium and the Netherlands are home to most of the big Cyclocross World Cup (or CX)  races and produce the majority of the sports champions.

However, over the last 10 years, the growth of cycling in general has contributed to a huge growth in cyclocross beyond the sport’s historical home turf.

Five things you need to know about CX.

ONE — What is it?

The sport of cyclocross takes place on relatively short course circuits of 1 to 3km – trails, mud, gravel, sand… any surface goes in a cyclocross race. 

The circuit will also usually contain obstacles that require the rider to dismount and carry his or her bike through certain sections – a skill in itself.

Races usually last a lung-busting hour of all-out effort, in all conditions.

TWO — Can I take part?

There are some well-worn routes in the Phoenix Park, a dedicated cyclocross facility at the National Sports Campus and many of Ireland’s mountain bike trails are perfect preparation for the cyclocross season. So yes, you can be ‘riding cross’ tomorrow morning if you like. 

For the seasoned cyclist, it’s a nice break from the road without having to make the full switch to mountain biking. 

Click here for more info on getting started from our friends at Cycling Ireland.

THREE – What do I need?

As recently as five years ago, cyclocross bikes were a rarity in bike shops across Ireland, but these days you will find them everywhere. They look a lot like a regular racing bike, but will have bigger, knobbly tyres. This feature also makes them a great bike for winter training or the daily commute.

Like all cycling disciplines, there is no end to the possible expenditure. An entry level cyclocross bike will start about €1,000, but you’ll easily find models retailing up to €10,000.

If you’re planning to race you’ll need a Cycling Ireland license, but otherwise your cx bike will be enough to take you almost anywhere.

FOUR — Are we good at it in Ireland?

We haven’t hit world class levels of performance in cyclocross just yet, but of all cycling disciplines, it would seem to be the one that we are really equipped to perform in.

Lack of facilities or bad weather are not obstacles to performing at cyclocross, indeed it’s a winter sport that is played out in wet, muddy, cold conditions… it’s made for us!

There’s a cyclocross facility at the National Sports Campus, and it’s a discipline that Cycling Ireland are motivated to promote, so do not be surprised when we start to produce elite cyclocross athletes in the very near future.

Check out a couple of Ireland’s high-performing cyclocross riders below:

David Conroy – @davidconroy1
Glenn Kinning – @gkinning

FIVE — What is the CX Opportunity for business and sponsorship?

Trinity Racing CX in action during Super Prestige Zonhoven on December 08, 2019 in Zonhoven, Belguim.

Cyclocross is still at an early stage in Ireland when it comes to the potential for corporate involvement. However, it is a discipline which will certainly grow in this country, and most cycling experts would predict that we will start producing world class cx riders sooner or later.

So the opportunity is speculative right now, but a punt on ‘owning’ cyclocross in Ireland  as a sponsor would be a relatively modest investment with the potential for a large return in the long-run.

Aside from sponsoring future success in the sport, the cyclocross event itself is a really enjoyable spectator experience, closer to a stadium sport than road cycling. Cyclocross races in Europe have a real aprs-ski feel with music, food and drinks enjoyed by a usually raucous crowd.

Keep an eye on this, might be a big thing here in a few short years.