This Sunday 22nd January 2017, the Connacht Cyclocross Championship takes place in Belleek Woods, Ballina. Hosted by Ballina Cycling Club, this is one fun event not to be missed.
It’s a discipline where riders race around a two-to-three-kilometre circuit, with terrain varying from muddy trails to grassland, woodland and sometimes tarmac. Suffice to say you’ll be caked in mud after the 30 or so minutes most races take to complete! There are obstacles, such as hurdles and even steep slopes, which require one to shoulder bikes. A perfect event for the hilly terrain of Belleek Woods. Races usually last between 45 mins and an hour.
The aim is to complete as many laps as possible in the set time or before you are lapped by the leaders. Each race differs, depending on the technical challenge it poses, but if you come across a tricky section you can dismount and run with your bike. The beauty of Cyclocross is all the family can take part and join in.
The origins of the sport are unclear, but it has been traditionally been used as a means for road cyclists to keep fit through the winter in areas where roads became too dangerous because of snow and ice. As such, in the Northern Hemisphere it is predominantly a winter sport. Cyclocross has evolved to become a separate cycling discipline, with its own world championships held normally in January.
Sunday’s event is the last round of the 2016 Connacht Cyclocross League, and doubles as the Connacht Cyclocross Championship. The course in Belleek is very novice-friendly and suitable for all levels of ability. There will also be a fun “Have a Go” event on the day open to anyone who wants to try out the course.
Junior age groups will also race on Sunday, and this will give the 30 or so local children who train every Sunday in Belleek under the guidance of Ballina Cycling Club coach Simon Walsh a chance to show off their skills.
Sign on is from 9:30 to 10:30 at Ballina Athletic Club. No special equipment is required, just a helmet, a mountain or Cyclocross bike and a sense of adventure! There will also be a guided lap for complete beginners, so something for everyone.
Please note that a 2017 Cycling Ireland licence will be required to enter the Connacht CX Championship races this Sunday. There will also fun event for those new to cycling and a Cycling Ireland Licence will be required for this but they will be on sale at the Athletic Club house on the day at a cost of €5 for a one day licence to give it a try.
Here is a short video of the 2015 National Cyclocross championship event. Video credit to Galibier Velo.