Cyclocross is one of the easiest forms of cycle racing to get involved in and arguably the most fun, especially if you’ve never done any form of competitive cycling before. We have a large representation (women and men) from Dulwich Paragon taking part in training and racing throughout the season. There’s always a family atmosphere : U10, U12 and Youth categories all have races prior to the main Senior/Women/Junior/Veteran races. It’s far more fun than going up and down a dual carriageway at 7am as you do in time trialling. You don’t need a special cyclo-cross bike to get started. Mountain bikes are welcome in the London Cyclo-Cross League and other local league races. For clothing, nothing special is needed. Even though it’s a winter sport you wear less than you think you’d need, a normal club jersey and shorts, with arms warmers and leg warmers if really cold. Mountain bike shoes and pedals are used: Time Atac, Crankbrothers Eggbeaters, and SPDs are all popular. Do one race and you’ll be hooked.
London Cyclo-Cross League
The London Cyclo-Cross League is a series of around 15 races from September to mid-February. A rider’s best results count towards the final standings, so you don’t have to do every race if you don’t want. The circuits are varied and held at different locations around London, Kent, East and West Sussex. Some are held on school playing fields: these tend to be fairly fast affairs, being mostly flat and not particularly technical. Others are held on farms or public parks, often featuring tricky sections through woods, and some are at purpose built venues. All in all there’s a wide range of courses to suit all types of rider, whether you like hills, technical muddy trails or flat out slogs through grassy fields.
You’ll need British Cycling membership (a full licence isn’t necessary) otherwise there’s a £3 extra charge. There are usually several Dulwich riders competing so join the WhatsApp group to hook up with someone for a car lift. Many venues can be accessed easily by train.
Quite often the closest race to London isn’t actually a London League race. The following all promote many races within easy reach: Central league (Herts, Bucks, Beds), Eastern league (Essex, Suffolk, Cambs), Wessex League (Berks, Oxfordshire, Hampshire…). See the calendar in the cyclo-cross section of the British cycling website for full details of all races. You don’t need to be affiliated to any league to race.
The Three Peaks
The Three Peaks is an almost mythical cyclo-cross race held annually in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Several brave Dulwich members make the pilgrimage each year to this gruelling 38 mile event held in late September. Entry opens in early June via the website. Don’t miss out, it always fills up quickly.