Introducing CX Sportive / Adventure Cross events

Time for a ‘Cyclo-Cross over’ off road event?

You may have noticed CX Sportives and Adventure Cross events becoming increasingly prominent on Pedal Planner of late, so what is the essence of these events and why should you give them a go?  This month the fat tyre devotees at Pedal Planner have teamed-up with two of the UK’s leading organisers of these events, to give you all the information you need to get involved with the latest genre to shake-up the world of off road cycling.

Adventure Cross cycling scene Lakeland Credit Rod BarkerCycling’s Trans Genre?

Things are changing in the world of off road cycling events; the lines that once delineated disciplines are becoming increasingly blurred.  In our recent post we explored the world of enduro; which surely owes some of its success to being a hybrid of what’s best about cross country and downhill.  But a genre with such broad appeal that it has bridged the gap between the respective ‘dark sides’ of skinny wheels and knobbly tyres; that would never work…or would it?

Trans-formative Success?

Well the simple fact is that it is working – and working very well, as Martin Harrison of  The Cycle Events Organisation that organises the CX Sportive series in the South of England explains:

“Growing CX sportives is currently our major focus: we’ve been developing the format since 2010. The lines between road and off road disciplines are blurring, and that’s an enormously positive thing. Cycling became quite polarised over the last 20 or 30 years, depicted by the images of MTB as a big hit, full suspension and body armour sport, and road as the domain of nose down, flat out, TdF style riding on a super-twitchy Pinarello.”

“This has pushed riders to idealise styles of riding that in reality, don’t necessarily suit them at all, and weren’t necessarily connected to the way people actually ride bikes. The new CX sportive movement is a reaction to that, picking up on the versatility of cyclocross bikes and a range of new generation machines designed to conquer the variety of different terrains you find in front of you in the real world.  It’s something that appears to be happening quite organically. As people embrace it, they discover that it’s more fun and offers more freedom and possibilities in the way you can ride and where you can ride.”

So what should we expect in a CX sportive or adventure cross event?

adventure cross event registration scene – Rod BarkerMartin says, “With CX sportive events, we try to create courses that are varied and entertaining, as well as physically challenging. The routes switch between surfaces regularly to keep riders on their toes, and giving them plenty of opportunity to open up and get your pedals turning, between the climbs and more technical sections that add spice to the mix.”

“It’s not quite like road or MTB, but takes a little from each and attracts a wide range of riders. Our 20 years of experience in both MTB and road events put us in an ideal position to understand what riders of each want, and to design the events from their point of view.”

“We’re pushing the boundaries with new ideas and bigger challenges too, such as this summer’s CX Century South Downs Way, and the Surrey Hills Gravelcross, which will include an enclosed circuit with the event arena at the start and finish of the open hill ride. We’re already working on new events and ideas for next year’s calendar too”.

Lots of events, wherever you are in the UK

You shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a CX sportive or adventure cross off road event in your area.

The 2015 Cycling Weekly/mbr Adventure Cross Series  features five interesting and challenging multi-terrain outings across trails, bridleways and lanes in Scotland, Wales, Lakeland, Yorkshire Moors and the Peak District.  The brianchild of Gav McDonald and Cheryl Frost of Rather Be Cycling these events are designed to be 100% rideable on both mountain bikes and cyclo-cross bikes. The on/ off road nature of the routes makes either machine a great tool, with each coming into their own at different parts of the course.

While cyclo-cross riders may put distance between themselves and the mountain bikers on the road sections, the fat-tyred brigade will find themselves at a distinct advantage on the most rocky or technical junctures. Adventure cross is physically demanding; it requires and rewards skillful bike handlers, especially those on a cross bike or fully rigid mountain bike . It is an excellent cross training discipline for improving bike handling skills and, by definition, takes place in a low-traffic environment.

Like Martin Harrison of  The Cycle Events Organisation, we believe that the advent of these events is one of the healthiest and most significant changes in cycling since the mountain bike boom of the 80s and 90s. It’s about people dictating the way they want to ride, rather than letting their bikes dictate the way they’re expected to ride. And it’s a huge amount of fun!

Use Pedal Planner’s event finder to list upcoming cyclo-cross events >>

Our thanks to Martin Harrison at The Cycle Events Organisation and Aston Brooks-Ashitey at Time Imc. for their help with this article, and Rod Barker and Cycling Weekly / MBR for the images.

Leave a Comment