With winter in full flight, cyclo-cross riders are now knee-deep in their competitive season. Cyclo-cross races occur primarily from autumn through winter, giving a road racer or track star a new terrain to test, writes Jill Leonard.
Cyclo-cross takes contestants over grass, pavement and wooded trails while conquering steep hills and a variety of obstacles, requiring the rider to quickly dismount the bike, carry it through and navigate safely over to a section for remount.
The distances are kept short for this reason and the course usually laps in a distance of one-and-a-half to two miles.
Roger Aiken, who had an amazing performance in this year's An Post Rás, is also a very successful cyclo-cross racer. He has many victories under his belt, including first and second placings in the Irish National Cyclo-cross Championships, while also proving to be a competitive force in mountain biking.
Cyclo-cross courses are less specialised that those of mountain biking, but each specific obstacle calls for very particular ability. Water streams can be integrated into the course, consisting of dirt tracks that can get exceptionally muddy, sloppy and wet, while other sections may be sandy or dusty. All these conditions require a rider to manoeuver differently to handle each terrain as fast as possible.
Aiken won the Ulster Cyclo-cross Round 6 Race on Sunday in Belfast, with Glen Kinning and Ray O' Shaughnessy in second and third respectively.
SET A NEW PERSONAL BEST AT CLONTARF HALF
Entries for the Clontarf Half-Marathon and Five-Mile are coming in fast. This flat-course event has an entry limit of 1,500. There is also a junior 1.5k run to help make it a family day out.
The event takes place on Saturday. The entry fee is €26 for the half and €17 for the five-mile. Half-marathon competitors will also get a 10k time, so there is potential to achieve two personal bests on the day. The race is supported by Raheny Shamrock AC. See www.runclontarf.com