Cyclo-Cross provides the perfect introduction to cycle racing for younger riders.
At each Wessex League event there is a race for riders aged under 12 and is suitable for all abilities.
No specific club or British Cycling membership is required. Simply sign on, get a race number, and then line up with the other riders at the appropriate time.
Entry fee is usually small, typically about £3-5.
Usually about 40 riders take part in a Wessex League Under 12s race.
Any bike will do so long as it is good working order and is suitable for riding on a grassland/park surface. Typically there are racing bikes, mountain bikes, BMX and trail bikes, as well as the occasional balance bike or stabilised bike. A helmet is also required.
The race is held on a relatively easy, flat grassland circuit about 800m long. Riders start together and the race lasts for approximately 15 minutes with riders completing multiple laps of the course. The winner is the first rider across the line after the race time. Usually the leading riders will lap some of the younger riders, but this is perfectly ok. Every rider finishes on the same lap as the leader and the results are based on how many laps a rider completed in the time.
Whilst the race is competitive, the emphasis is very much on the riders enjoying the experience of riding together and the feeling of being in a race with others. The courses are designed to be rideable by all and don’t include any hazardous or difficult sections.
There is usually time for the riders to have a practice lap or two before the race. And it is not frowned upon if a parent has to step in to provide a little bit of assistance during the race.
Cyclo-cross is a great fun introduction to cycle racing in a safe and controlled environment.