Starting out in the Eastern Cyclo-Cross League

So you're thinking of having a go at cyclo-cross but you're not sure what to expect on race day or what you need to do? Firstly, we'd like to welcome you. Now read on...

Cyclo-cross races are mass start, multi-lap affairs, with each lap typically taking between 5 and 8 minutes for the leaders. You'll need a cyclo-cross bike or a mountain bike and a helmet.

When you've chosen an event, check the start time from the web site. Usually, under-10s start at 10:00, under-12s at 10:15, youths at 11:00, women and veterans 50+ at 12:00, veterans 40-49 at 13:30 and seniors and juniors at 14:30, but times vary for Regional Championships and other special events. All events accept advance on-line entries. Non-championship events also have entries on the day, but only if the race is not full.

You will need to arrive at the event at least 1½ hours before the race starts. You'll use this time to get changed, get your bike ready, view the course and familiarise yourself with all the corners/obstacles, where the pits are, where the HQ is etc.

Locate the HQ and sign on.

Then ride the circuit for at least a couple of laps to warm up as the start of the race will be flat out from the whistle. You want to be familiar with all the tight corners and other tricky sections before you start your race.

You will be called up to the start line 10 minutes before the race start. Ranked riders will then be called to their grid place. The commissaire will instruct riders on the length of the race and any specific items that you need to know.

The race will usually last for a total of 30 minutes for youths, 40 minutes for veterans and women, 10 minutes for under-10s, 15 minutes for under-12s, and an hour for everyone else. You'll hear a bell as you cross the line with one lap to go. When the winner has finished, all other riders finish when they complete the lap they're currently on.

When you've packed up your bike, head back to the HQ for refreshments and a chat with the other riders. Race results will be displayed at the HQ usually within 30 mins of the event finishing.

We are very friendly so don'’t hesitate to ask questions. We look forward to seeing you all.


Pits - this is an area set aside for rider’s helpers to have spare bikes/wheels and is the only place where mechanical assistance can be given. Drinks are not allowed to be handed up from the pits.

Grid - The start area will be marked out with a ‘Start’ banner and there will be a riders compound set back from the start line. Riders will be called forward to the allotted place on the grid 5-10 mins before the start. Once the riders have settled, the starter will announce that the start will be within the next thirty seconds. The whistle can go any time in the thirty seconds so be prepared!

Commissaire - is an appointed person who will oversee the race. They are trained by British Cycling specifically for Cross races. They inspect the course for safety before any racing commences and oversee riders conduct and are in charge of the event while racing is in progress.

Ranking - Riders are ranked based on their last five races and are given a grid position accordingly. This is based on the position in the whole race, not just in their category. It's a safety measure, designed to minimise the amount of overtaking in the first few seconds of the race.

Last updated 2nd January, 2016.