Cross is coming

As a mountain biker, the limit of where you can go with your bike is almost endless, from the beautiful beaches of South Africa to the top of almost every mountain. I’m so spoilt to live in the Western Cape where we have some of the best trails in South Africa, stimulated with every type of trail you can imagine. Always every moment is satisfying, going higher and higher up, to see the world from a different angle.

But as my mountain bike season comes to an end. I have decided to embark on a journey into unknown territory. The world of European cyclocross is about to open its doors and let me in, the fear of the unknown is so exciting I cannot wait to jump on the plane and arrive at my destination, Belgium. The homeland of cyclocross, the place where numerous world champions and the pioneers of the sport are bred.

 

Cross is coming 1.jpeg
Jarrod van den Heever racing in the Steeple Cup at Klein Constantia. Photo credit: @cimacharlie

 

I’ve been on my mountain bike for as long as I can remember from riding around my house in the Northern Cape to racing at a few World Cups in Europe. I’ve been lucky enough to claim the SA Junior XCO champs title in 2016 and African u/23 champs this year. So my experience as a cyclist has evolved around a 29er full suspension bike, not a ridged road bike made to race in the mud.

 

Cyclocross (CX) racing is not a household name in South Africa. The ever-growing market for gravel bikes in South Africa has finally led to one of the first proper cyclocross races, the Steeple Cup hosted by Klein Constantia in September. The test event was to see if this type of racing would grow and create a new kind of series for South Africans to enjoy racing their bike all year round. I was fortunate enough to take part in the test event to get used to the format and gain as much experience as I can. Even though it was a CX event of sorts, the depth and intensity were nowhere near the same spectrum as Belgium CX racing. But at this point, any experience is good enough.

 

My preparation for my up and coming CX season consisted of me training for and racing the Cape Pioneer Trek. This built a good base for me to go and race in Belgium. This is a common strategy for CX racers, they would usually compete in road tours around Europe to maintain their stamina and form leading up to the season. Weeks before the start of the season they will then resort to sharpening their performance stick with short and intense intervals. The main goal would be to give themselves the explosive power that is crucial for a CX racing. Sprinting out of every single corner seems to be the norm in cyclocross with almost no resting involved in the short one hour race.

 

 

Racing format for cyclocross is pretty simple. Think of it as a mix of XCO and road cycling. The race is a lap format taking place on a circuit consisting of portage sections, steep inclines and a whole lot of hairpin turns. The combination of harsh Belgium winter and courses is extremely demanding on equipment. Riders typically have up to three bikes per race and changing bikes up to two times per lap is not uncommon. This gives the rider the advantage to have a clean and working bike for the duration of the race. A big support team is required to be able to wash, fix, and change bikes per lap if need be. Unfortunately, I will not have any of that.

 

My equipment will be minimal, only one bike and three wheelsets are all I have. This means if conditions get bad I will be disadvantaged compared to the other riders. But the whole idea of this trip is to gain experience, see what is required to race CX in Belgium.

 

My initial plan for Belgium is, I will head over to Holland in early November and immediately go to European Champions held in Rosmalen. This is a good opportunity to meet a lot of people and see what happens behind the scenes when it comes to cyclocross. This is quite important as I will be on my own for the whole duration of the month.

 






17 Comments

FlyBoy, Nov 09 2018 07:14

Absolutely love it! 

Will be following Jarrod's adventure closely.

 

Well done to him for taking that step into the unknown and wish him the best of luck! 

stringbean, Nov 09 2018 07:54

Heard this 10 years ago. True story Every now and then it gets revived mostly pushed by industry or guys who just imported new shipment of gravel bikes but the truth is the interest in SA is very limited. Added is the fact that to most riders a cx or gravel bike will be their n+3 bike limits interest even more. Cx and gravel bikes will fall into the same category as fat bikes.Initial interests then dead. Common it’s Friday lets get rolling. https://www.bikehub..../?hl=cyclocross

Nick, Nov 09 2018 08:00

Heard this 10 years ago. True story Every now and then it gets revived mostly pushed by industry or guys who just imported new shipment of gravel bikes but the truth is the interest in SA is very limited. Added is the fact that to most riders a cx or gravel bike will be their n+3 bike limits interest even more. Cx and gravel bikes will fall into the same category as fat bikes.Initial interests then dead. Common it’s Friday lets get rolling. https://www.bikehub..../?hl=cyclocross

 

Who went to race in Belgium 10 years ago?

stringbean, Nov 09 2018 08:06

Sorry I was talking about cyclocross coming to SA

Nick, Nov 09 2018 08:20

Oops. I wasn't trying to be snarky. Was wondering whether someone has tried something similar before. CX history isn't my quiz night strong point. Not to distract from Jarrod's adventure.

Skinnyone, Nov 09 2018 08:37

My mate raced in Belgium for 3 seasons under Roger De Vlaeminck back in 2009 on - it was the toughest racing he has ever done...toughest thing was being thrown in the deep end with the likes of Lars Boom and Sven Nys....

 

Good Luck to Jarrod with his endeavour!

Andrew Steer, Nov 09 2018 09:10

Good luck to him... gonna be a steep learning curve I am sure, but you're not gonna learn this trade here. 

phillipxx1, Nov 09 2018 09:43

Sorry to say but that bike looks to small for you

love the ride, Nov 09 2018 10:58

Heard this 10 years ago. True story Every now and then it gets revived mostly pushed by industry or guys who just imported new shipment of gravel bikes but the truth is the interest in SA is very limited. Added is the fact that to most riders a cx or gravel bike will be their n+3 bike limits interest even more. Cx and gravel bikes will fall into the same category as fat bikes.Initial interests then dead. Common it’s Friday lets get rolling. https://www.bikehub..../?hl=cyclocross

While you may be right about the CX scene never taking off in SA, you are dead wrong about the gravel side of it. There are a good number of events and tours and a very strong rider driven versus industry driven ethos behind the gravel scene. Gravel bikes will be around long after everyone ( industry included ) has forgotten about Fat bikes

RaymondC, Nov 09 2018 11:08

Sorry to say but that bike looks to small for you

Check the videos looks spot on to me. Good luck J!

shaper, Nov 09 2018 07:11

All the best and good luck!!

Jarrodvdheever, Nov 09 2018 07:23

Thanks a lot guys! Appreciate the support.

Goingslow, Nov 09 2018 09:40

Heard this 10 years ago.
True story
Every now and then it gets revived mostly pushed by industry or guys who just imported new shipment of gravel bikes but the truth is the interest in SA is very limited.
Added is the fact that to most riders a cx or gravel bike will be their n+3 bike limits interest even more.
Cx and gravel bikes will fall into the same category as fat bikes.Initial interests then dead.
Common it’s Friday lets get rolling.
https://www.bikehub..../?hl=cyclocross

Goingslow, Nov 09 2018 09:45

Got to agree - very limited appeal - cyclocross is great to watch overseas but dont think its gonna fly here. If i want to ride a road bike I can, similarly a mtb does the business in the dirt and i dont go out to ride in mud! Thats plain stupid IMO

gummibear, Nov 12 2018 01:39

I've seen many mtb racers think that they can do well in CX racing.Most of them had their eyes opened with a shock.Mtb doesn't prepare you for that muddy racing.It's freezing cold on race day and probably wet to and you in minimum amount of clothing to keep warm.

Hope he has a good backup team and mechanic to look after him and his bike.Ive seen guys wear out a drivetrain on one race in the mud.

Good luck and hope he does well.

 

Where can we see his race schedule?

 

I'll be at Namur World Cup race in December and would like to have a chat.

 

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duanelr, Nov 12 2018 02:44

I've seen many mtb racers think that they can do well in CX racing.Most of them had their eyes opened with a shock.Mtb doesn't prepare you for that muddy racing.It's freezing cold on race day and probably wet to and you in minimum amount of clothing to keep warm.

Hope he has a good backup team and mechanic to look after him and his bike.Ive seen guys wear out a drivetrain on one race in the mud.

Good luck and hope he does well.

 

Where can we see his race schedule?

 

I'll be at Namur World Cup race in December and would like to have a chat.

 

42206652_10157828524048275_2052305252870

 

f4495cd2-e5cc-11e8-92cb-748944d469c5_web

 

queenscross10c.jpg

 

how-to-ride-through-mud-blog_1200x672_ac

 

muddy-cyclocross-bike-ogden-utah-mike-sc

Holy smokes! You're gonna need a new chain and set of brake pads after every race - scratch that! A new drive train after every race :D

RossW, Nov 13 2018 07:10

What an incredible endeavor! I have goose-bumps at the thought and after seeing all those photos. I'll be following closely.