By Nicola Waterworth
I think it’s because cyclo-cross came to my attention on an episode of The Cycle Show featuring women cyclists that I was under the impression there are a fair number enjoying this pursuit. As it happens, when I pitched up at Pitville Park on Sunday there was only one woman racing in a field of roughly fifty, with three juniors also. That one woman was wearing the number 15.
In common with many amateur level cycling and triathlon/duathlon events, men and women race in the same field although results are awarded in various gender and age categories. Something I have always preferred when racing in triathlon myself.
Cyclo-cross is probably best described as a mixture of road biking and mountain biking (although my brother confidently informed me later that day that it pre-dates mountain biking). Riders basically ride a modified road bike, with more knobbly tyres, around a grass/ trail based course that includes hills, frequent turns, dips and (wo)man-made obstacles.
The format at the Western League (Round 3) race on Sunday was to cycle for 50 minutes plus 1 lap. It looked like seriously hard work and very technical riding. Whilst it was dry in Cheltenham, frequently it is a very muddy affair. To me, the hard work also looks like great fun and, as a keen cyclist, I quite fancy giving it a go.
Given that I am:
a) a novice to this so didn’t fully understand the format
b) unfortunately, had to leave before the end, and
c) can’t find the results online
I can only surmise that number 15 won the women’s category and continued to gradually overtake a number of the male competitors. She looked in fine form in what is clearly a seriously tough pursuit.
I look forward to going to a cyclo-cross race when they’re in Bristol so might even find out who number 15 is and, hopefully, witness a larger women’s field — or perhaps take ‘showing up’ one step further and actually grab a bike and join in!