It’s Cyclocross Season – Are you ready to get down and dirty?

It's always good to get out on a bright Autumn day.

It’s always good to get out on a bright Autumn day.

I love this time of year as the Summer turns to Autumn, the leaves begin to turn some of the most amazing colours and winter gradually gets its claws into the land as the frosty mornings start cold and bright. However if I’m really honest I hate the cold dark dank days that also come in late autumn and winter. However on the bright side it is a great time to get out and play in the mud!

As many a great explorer has said “there is no such thing as bad weather just poor preparation” actually I’m not really sure who said that maybe not Scott! But seriously you can ride in any weather if you are wearing the correct clothing or have some of the top tips below to keep feet and hands warm.

So do not be afraid of the weather hug it tight and be a conquering hero of Autumn and Winter riding.

I noticed just this last week that the number of CX Sportives is on the increase and a quick trawl through the events list suggests that they are very popular in the South, come on you guys in the North make sure your events are publicised.

I rode my very first CX Sportive this year, the amazing Adventure X event based around Keswick. What an experience it was, don’t forget to read my review of the event elsewhere on this website.

So if you fancy trying a little bit of cyclocross but don’t have a CX bike, well don’t worry most events are open to wide range of bikes, pretty much anything will do, except perhaps your pride and joy the full carbon road bike!

From my experience riders will turn up on any bike from a full carbon CX bike, hardtail MTB, Full suspension MTB to a flat bar hybrid. The only thing I would recommend is that you check the ride profile and make sure you have a suitable range of gears for the event unless you are riding single speed! I got caught out on the Mini Monster Adventure X in Keswick.

CX Sportive (www.cxsportive.com) has several good rides available this season:

CX Sportives are the fantastic new mixed surface events that are combining the thrills of on  and off-road riding into one awesome experience!

•Sportive style events on fast, mixed surface courses

•Courses from 40-80km

•Full sportive support and infrastructure

•Great for all kinds of bikes: CX, MTB, Hybrid, 29er, Singlespeed & even Road!*

Riding a mix of road and off road is so exhilarating.

Riding a mix of road and off road is so exhilarating.

Big challenge rides tend to come in two flavours; massive road sportives and hardcore MTB enduros. But why not mix it up, take on the best of both and spice up your riding?

CX Sportive is an exciting new ride format. It’s ideal for your cross bike, but equally suitable for your XC MTB or even road winter training bike, tweaked for a little rough stuff!* The course mixes back roads, interwoven with byways and a few short tougher off road links that will certainly bring on the heat!

Your choice of steed will define your ride. Will the versatility of a MTB offer the best performance over mixed terrain? Will the pure speed of your road bike make up for time lost on the short, occasional off road dismounts? Or will the CX bike give you the best return where it counts?

To prove a point (or just let you fly the flag for your tribe), they even include your bike choice in your results listing; so if you insist on tackling the route on your mum’s folding shopper, they’ll credit your lunacy!**

You’ll have a range of time targets to aim for, with age and gender adjustments; including full route marking, RFID timing, top notch catering and first class, friendly organisation and support.

*Not recommended for your beloved, super-light carbon road thoroughbred!

**Disclaimer: Don’t tackle the route on your mum’s folding shopper!

Ride X the Evan CX rides

Ride X the Evan CX rides

The bike supermarket that is Evans have also added CX Sportives to their list of Ride It events this year. They might well be worth checking out if you live in the South (Evans Ride it CX Sportives).

For the Autumn/Winter season they’ve added 4 exciting mixed terrain routes to their existing Sportive offering. As with all of their road sportives, all routes will be fully way-marked with GPX files published pre-event. High5 sponsored feed stations will help you tackle a variety of riding surfaces (tarmac, mud, grass & more!) whilst clocking up some worthy mileage in this new format. The routes are best suited to cyclocross and adventure-road bikes that are up to some off-road exploring.

All rides include: Fully way-marked routes • Well stocked High5 feed stations • Mechanical support • GPS files published pre-event • Free High5 pack worth £10 when you sign up 8 weeks in advance • Free Garmin hire • Times published post-event

 

Cycling Weekly Adventure X Series

Cycling Weekly Adventure X Series

Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for next years Adventure X series promoted and run by Cycling Weekly with the support of changing sponsors. The event I rode in October was amazing, one of the best challenges I have have ever taken part in (more details can be found in my report on Adventure X Lakeland Monster Miles)

With so much going on on the cyclocross sportive scene surely it must be time for you to ditch the winter rode bike and get yourself a CX bike and rise to the challenge. I did and I haven’t looked back :)

‘One for the Girls!’ – Falling Short

Devoted to helping female customers make the most of winter riding, the first in the series of women specific shopping events was held last night at Evans Cycles’ central London Store on Mortimer Street.

Arriving promptly at 6pm in the hope of gaining a free goody-bag packed with cycling essentials, I was greeted by 50 other girls with the same intention – the last bag handed to the girl in front of me – bugger, this event is popular! It wasn’t the end of the world though. As my Brompton was whisked from me to be stored safely in the workshop, a glass of Prosecco filled my now empty hand as I was guided through the store to join the introduction.

Aiming to cater for new and experienced riders alike, the ‘One for the Girls!’ events held across the country over the coming month, will provide women with a private shopping and Q&A session.

Michelle Arthurs, Social Media Specialist at Evans Cycles, explains “We’ve seen a sharp rise in the number of women buying bikes and we are really excited to see so many more women out cycling.”

One for the Girls

One for theGirls! product demo

“We know that British Cycling are doing a lot to encourage female participation in the sport, and we are keen to do everything we can to cater for this growing audience.”

A cyclist herself, Michelle says:

“I’m aware that there are times when the sport can seem very male dominated, these events are a chance for women who ride to get together, meet each other, and even plan rides if they want to. We hosted a similar series of One for the Girls events over the summer in London, Cardiff and Manchester, and they were a great success – if these go well, we would like to look at rolling them out to more stores.”

I got chatting to a couple of other ladies on arrival, one of whom had only started cycling 3 weeks prior after purchasing a hybrid following a brief stint living in cycling-fuelled Finland and keen to ask some questions about her new hobby. Whilst another, a keen road cyclist looked for a bargain, wishing to use her 20% off accessories offer for the night.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hear much of the intro or the first talk – crammed into one of the smallest parts of this very large store, the small voice of the manager was swallowed by those who’d gathered around her to absorb her knowledge on performance wear.

Everyone else busy with the talk or shopping, I decided to grab another member of staff and ask what women’s specific road bikes they had in store. Not once, but twice I was told to ‘look online’ in answer to my queries… I can’t tell you how much this frustrates me considering I was stood in front of the sales person, in the store!

Shopping for bikes is never easy for me, especially at a pint sized 5’2”. However, I was hoping this event would prove that experience different. I proceeded to ask the sales guy to show me what bikes I could possibly try for size that evening, coming up short (no pun intended) with x1 carbon frame (of a low end brand and entry model) in a suitable size. ‘You could try the larger size’ he claims… ‘erm, somehow I think I’d be wasting my time’ I responded, a little miffed at the lack of knowledge. Although, to be fair, he was only doing the best he could in light of the lack of products to play with. I guess I’ll just have to ‘look online’.

Different definition to 'stacking it!'

Different definition to ‘stacking it!’

On paper, what sounds like a great event and clearly draws the crowds, fell short in a number of places for me. Maybe I had high expectations, but after chatting to some other attendees I wasn’t alone.

The women’s bikes were packed tight, were limited in brand and size (apparently Evans only stock ‘popular’ brands – although I’m not sure I’d count Jamis as one of those, yet that was the only brand available in my size that evening). They weren’t easily accessible to look at (chained to the stand), to find out more about or even try.

Their women’s specific brand section was small in comparison to the store (let’s say 1/10th) and there was no effort to demonstrate further the products. I was baffled as to why they hadn’t ordered in additional stock or brands for the evening; after all, this was a women’s specific shopping event.

The product talk was orientated at the performance cyclist, and it appeared to be the only talk of its kind at the very start of the evening. There also didn’t seem to be much opportunity seized on the community aspect of 60+ female cyclists gathered in one central place.

I’m a tough customer, I know that – I know what I want, and I know my size, but I was also expecting a lot more of a women’s specific cyling event. However, as Michelle had earlier pointed out, this is a step in the right direction, and hopefully they can only get better.

One for the Girls! will be at the following stores over the next coming weeks – let us know how you get on if you attend:

Guildford, Monday 18th, 6-8pm
Wimbledon, Tuesday 19th, 6-8pm
Reading, Wednesday 20th, 6-8pm
Trafford, Thursday 21st, 6-8pm

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

‘One for the Girls’ shopping nights at Evans Cycles

One for the Girls is back at Evans Cycles after a successful launch earlier this year.

The ladies shopping evening provides us girls an excuse to go wild in-store, and with the encouragement of 20% off clothing and accessories and 10% off bikes on the night, we can’t really refuse.

Womens-Event-Landing-Page-Sign-UpAnd that’s not all. With a free goody bag on offer to the first 50 through the door at each event, sparking wine and snacks (well, it is the off season), and invaluable advice on hand from store mechanics and staff, it’s set to be a fantastic and insightful evening with fellow female cyclists.

Places are limited, so be sure to get your name down to one of the following events fast:

Mortimer Street, London, on Monday 18th November, 6-8pm
Guildford, on Monday 18th November, 6-8pm
Wimbledon, on Tuesday 19th November, 6-8pm
Reading, on Wednesday 20th November, 6-8pm
Manchester Trafford, Thursday 21st November, 6-8pm

I’m registered for the Mortimer Street event. Fingers crossed I’ll see you there, credit card in hand!

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

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