Whether you’re taking part or not, Cyclocross season is underway. Races are popping up around the country, so the UK suffers good old stormy weather to celebrate.
Taking the National Cyclocross Champion title last season, I have a quick chat with Helen Wyman on the cycling discipline she loves so much. With 10 National Cyclocross Champion titles to her name, she’s the perfect person to inspire you to give Cyclocross a go this year.
With bases in the South of France and Belgium, she’s right in the middle of all of the Cyclocross action.
Having ridden a bike since way before Helen can remember, she fell in love with the sport on family trips and holidays away, which involved riding bikes. By the time Helen reached the age of 14, she followed her brother’s footsteps into the racing world of cycling. “I wanted to do everything he did, so I raced too”.
Trying her hand at everything from mountain biking to grass track racing, Helen always found herself coming back to Cyclocross. She also found herself Road Racing, which included three World Championships in a row. Some of which saw Helen help fellow British rider, Nicole Cooke, to Silver and Bronze medals.
“Road Racing can be comparable to ‘Cross’ at world level, however Cyclcross has all my heart nowadays, so I only do the odd road race for racing practice.”
Cyclocross may not be a well known cycling discipline to many, so what better person was there to ask than Helen to explain what it was all about…
“It’s off-road on a road bike with bobbly tyres. You race for roughly fifty minutes on a short circuit where you complete a lot of laps.”
To make it unique from other cycling disciplines, the course includes various obstacles meaning racers have to jump off and carry their bikes.
“You ride over every kind of off-road terrain and is the most fun you can have on a bike in my opinion!”
With the rapid rise in the amount of people who now ride full-suspension mountain bikes, Helen had a quick response to why you wouldn’t just take a mountain bike out instead…
“Well then it would be called mountain biking! If you watch a World Cup Mountain Bike race and a World Cup Cyclocross race, you can easily see how very different they are as sports.”
Of course, you don’t have to just take your Cyclocross bike to races either, Helen talks about how useful they can be on the trails too…
“As for just riding, you can do scarier stuff on a mountain bike, but riding a cross bike on normal off-road terrain is way faster and easier.”
One of the reasons Helen loves Cyclocross so much is because it’s “a very safe and family friendly environment”. Over the years she’s noticed Cyclocross to be less judgemental than road races, but cross races being somewhere “everyone is welcomed”.
In many other disciplines it can be fairly apparent what position you’re in to the spectators, but Helen says the best thing about amateur Cyclocross racing is “that nobody knows if you are lapped or not! You just keep riding until till someone tells you not too!”
If you want to see how Helen’s Cyclocross season pans out, make sure you give her a follow over on Instagram! She’s often sharing tips on how to improve at the sport too!
Need more inspiration on what to do on your bike this Autumn? Check out this blog post, What to do on your Bike this Autumn, for more ideas! Why not get inspiration from the Women’s Tour winner, Coryn Rivera, after I interviewed her a few weeks ago ahead of #GirlsAtMarshTracks ?