I joined KVG March 2015 as I’d entered The Three Peaks Cyclocross Challenge, which was taking place 6 months later. I hadn’t been on a bike for 30 years! I needed to spend time on a bike, get bike fit and acquire some handling skills for the race.
My dad had been doing this race for years, and I had been to watch many times. Even my husband had completed a few, while me and our young kids looked on.
My inspiration for getting involved came when my dad was about to turn 80 and announced that it would be his last time doing the challenge. I felt compelled to make it my first time, so with my husband by my side we all entered the event which is 38 miles (4 unrideable) and 5,000 feet of climbing over Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-Y-Ghent in the Yorkshire Dales.
We were blessed with beautiful weather and finished in 5+ hours and no major injuries.
Having done the challenge, I wanted to do more so I started doing local cyclocross races. I have carried on ever since! Cyclocross is an autumn/winter sport, consisting of 5-6 laps of a short course lasting about 40-50 minutes, with women often racing separately.
The course includes, cinder tracks, wooden trails, grass, steep hills, off camber sections, obstacles such as, steps, ditches and hurdles, where you carry your bike and occasional tarmac.
You ride on a cross bike, but gravel and mountain bikes are usually accepted. Cross bikes have drop handlebars, disc brakes (mostly), good tyre clearance, strong lightweight frames, lower gearing, off road tyres (clincher) or tubeless tyres which can run at low psi with less chance of puncturing.
Each season I try to complete as many races as I can and I have encouraged a fair few Kent Velo Girls, Kent Velo Boys and Kent Velo Kids to join me over the years. I have found this to be a very friendly sport to take part in and excellent in the winter if you are not keen on cycling inside on a turbo.
If you want to have a go there is a London League and an East Kent League, holding races from September to February.
The London League also runs a number of races in the summer when conditions are best for beginners.