CX Sportives: off-road series for winter

After the success and fun everyone had at Cycling Weekly’s recent Lakeland Monster cyclo-cross sportive, we’re clear that off-road challenge rides are some of the most fun you can have on two wheels. Luckily, the fine chaps at the Cycle Events Organisation have a trio of established and excellent CX Sportives already announced for the winter and spring.

The events use a mixture of tarmac lanes, farm tracks, bridleways and trails to create exciting winter-friendly courses of 25, 37 or 50 miles. Things kick off with the Salisbury Saxon CX, based at Salisbury racecourse, on November 24. Then there is the Wildwood CX, based at Langtree School near Reading, on January 26. And last confirmed event is the South Downs Sting CX, starting in Duncton near Petworth, on March 9. All three events are returning favourites, but The Cycle Events Organisation says all-new challenges will be added in due course.

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“Courses will vary by event, with each location shaped by it’s own local character, but a typical breakdown would be: 60 per cent road riding, mostly back lanes and some rougher surfaces; 25 per cent fast tracks such as fire roads or farm tracks; 10 per cent is bridleway; and five per cent is singletrack – semi-technical off-road,” TCEO’s Phil Harrison said.

“This variety is what makes these events such a blast, keeping you alert and on the ball to the changing demands of the course all day. It keeps you warm too, with the rougher stuff getting you out of the saddle and working your whole body. Off-road sections are picked to be rideable on skinny cross tyres, with maybe just one or two short sections that could get you thinking about shouldering your bike.

“But we want people to know that CX Sportives are not just for cross bikes. High quality hybrids and 29ers are all perfect for these events. We actively encourage riders to tackle the course on whatever bike they like. CX Sportives have become popular with mountain bikers looking for a rideable alternative to winter gloop. And the bravest souls ride their winter training road bikes with just a set of cross tyres fitted as a concession to the changing terrain. That’s a tough option, but it’ll earn the respect of your fellow riders.”

Entry for each event costs £20 for the 37 and 50-mile options, or £16 for the shortest 25-mile route.

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