I thought I’d put together a quick guide to how Cyclocross racing in Scotland works for parents who might like to get their kids involved over the winter, or even race themselves.
Cyclocross is widely regarded as the most family-friendly introduction to cycle sport, for a number of reasons. The courses are short, generally forming loops of a few hundred metres, and never very technical. For U12 racing it is recommended that there are no parts of the course that should require a dismount (e.g. barriers or hurdles), and the offroad sections tend to be smooth rather than rocky. There’s racing for all age groups at many events, so all the family can take part.
Broadly speaking there are three types of CX race in Scotland. Details of all races and dates can be found on the SCX website. There is also a flourishing Scottish Cyclocross facebook page here where races are announced, promoted and photos shared.
1. SCX Series Races.
October – December
These are the biggest races in terms of numbers, with racing for all age categories from U8 to V50+. They are raced under British Cycling rules, with a Commissaire, and online entry via British Cycling. The Series consists of 6 or 7 races annually, with entries opening on September 1st. The traditional season opener is usually Callendar Park, in Fallkirk, at the start of October. The season finishes with a weekend of racing on Mull in Mid December. The Scottish CX Championships are usually held as part of this Series. Deeside Thistle host one round of this series at Knockburn Loch – this year our race is on Sunday Oct 23rd.
2. Super Quaich Series Races.
January and February
These races (U16+) form a four race series, and each event consists of two races with riders split by ability, not age. Promotion and Relegation allows riders to find their own level and get good racing whatever their ability, The races are heavily oversubscribed and early entry is advised. These are raced under TLI regulations. Entry is online, usually via Entry Central. These are adult races, but some events hold a Balance Bike race or session for younger kids.
3. Independent races.
These tend to be smaller events (although Dig In, now part of the Super Quaich Series, is by far the most popular CX race in Scotland). Some are adults only, some kids only (e.g. ERC Juniors Inch Park CX). Sometimes these races can be hugely popular and sell out quickly, so choose your events and get entered as soon as you can. Depending on the organiser, the races can be held under TLI or BC regulations.
SCX SERIES RACES
These are the ones you are most likely to encounter if your kids are racing, simply because they offer the broadest range of racing for U16 age groups.
Races are split into U8, U12 and U16 categories, with podium presentations and goody bags for all the U8 and U12 riders, and helmet/glasses prizes for the U16 racers from the sponsors of the Series (this year it’s Raleigh, and the prizes should be here soon!). Age categories in CX racing are different to those on the road, and are expained fully here.
Entry for SCX Series races for U8 and U12 Go Cross races is £3.
The kids races are generally held early in the day, so they race on courses that are not too cut up. This typically means an early start, as sign-on opens at 08:45 – 09:00 for the first races.
The course will be open for practice up until the U8’s are ready to race (usually the first race is at 09:45). The course will be cleared via a tannoy announcement, and riders will be lined up on a start grid, which is usually not at the finish line. Each race varies in how the courses are laid out, but generally the U8 course is easier than the U12 course, and U16’s ride on the adult course.
Kids will race for a set period of time (usually 10–15 mins for the U8’s) plus one lap. Once the winner has finished, everybody else finishes when they cross the line, whether they’ve been lapped or not. The course is then open for the next age group to practice on, usually for 10 mins or so until the next race is gridded.
After the race, podium presentations are carried out and there’s usually hot food and drinks available. The final race of the day (Senior Open) lasts for one hour, and normally starts at 2pm.
(A slightly modified version of this post first appeared on Northern Lightweights).