4. During The Race

How long is a race?

Each race runs for a set period of time, finishing on the closest lap to that time limit. A bell ringing as you cross the finish line denotes that the last lap is being ridden by the race leaders and that you have one lap of racing left. Racing length varies depending on category:

  • Juniors, Veterans and Women – 40 mins
  • Youth – 30 mins
  • Under 12, Under 10 and Under 8 – 15 mins
  • Senior – 60 mins

What happens if I can’t finish?

If you suffer a “mechanical” (your bike breaks) or you are physically struggling and need to stop, you should leave the course by crossing the marking tape wherever safe to do so and make your way back to the start/finish area. Don’t go anywhere near the timing mats on the finish line though as you may trigger it with the timing chip on your leg. Inform the commissaire you’ve withdrawn (the commissaire is the person in charge of each race) if you can’t find him/her don’t worry. When you hand your number and chip in, let the sign on team know.

What happens if I’m injured in a race?

We have proper first aid support at every race. So in the unlikely event you are injured during a race you will be looked after. Make sure someone knows where you are and what you are doing before leaving home and that your emergency number is correct on the sign on sheet.

What do I do after the finish?

The most important thing is DO NOT stop just after crossing the finish line. Keep riding until well away from the line. Then you can fall over and catch your breath. After you’ve recovered enough to move, you should take your race number and timing chip back to sign on and collect your license / membership card. If you head for your car to change etc. chances are you’ll forget and drive off with the chip. This causes loads of problems for the race organisers so please remember to hand it back in straight after finishing.

There is normally a quick podium ceremony after each race, so if you want to know who won stay near the finish line and give them a cheer.

I’m worried about getting in the way of faster riders, what should I do?

The nature of cyclo-cross is that you will always be racing with people who are faster and slower than you. So you will get lapped often and, on a good day, you may pass a few riders too. Use your common sense and don’t try to get past someone where there clearly isn’t room. When you are being passed you should hear a shout like “on your left” or if the rider behind you is not feeling polite just “left”. What this means is that they intend to pass you on your left-hand side. What you should do is:

  • Hold the line you are riding
  • Do not weave
  • Do not pull to the right either as there may be another rider behind the one who shouted
  • Do not jam on your brakes to let someone past either

If you are passing someone, call out which side you are going to pass them at least a couple of bike lengths before you reach them. Do not swear at someone or yell aggressively to “MOVE”. You will get pulled from the race for that kind of behaviour. Despite the very competitive racing, CXNE is friendly and welcoming to all levels and the organisers work hard to ensure this spirit is not lost as numbers increase. So don’t worry about being passed or lapped.

Can I eat or drink during a race?

You shouldn’t need to, provided you’ve prepared properly. Although it isn’t forbidden to carry a bottle on your frame it’s not a good idea as they get in the way when shouldering the bike to carry it over obstacles. As the courses are always bumpy taking a drink is tricky and risky anyway. Hand ups are not permitted – you are not allowed to take food or water from someone on the side of the course.

Do I need a spare bike? How do the pits work?

You do not need a spare bike. It can be useful in those races that are really muddy but most riders only have the one. The most common “mechanical” is the simple flat or puncture so it’s a good idea to have a spare set of wheels in the pit area. This is a much cheaper option than a second bike. Whilst changing a wheel will cost more time than swapping bikes it will mean you can complete the race.

All the CXNE races have a double pit. This means you will only have to ride or run a maximum of half the circuit to reach one. You are not permitted to “run back” to a pit, even if you have just passed one and then get a mechanical. The pits are divided into two areas, with one area for spare bikes and equipment and the other for riders who are passing through the pits during the race. No equipment or bikes are permitted in the area used by riders during the race. So check with someone before leaving anything in the pits, it will get moved if it’s in the wrong place. If you enter the pit lane during a race you must dismount and take a minimum of two steps, even if you enter the pits by mistake.

It is important to realise that the pits are a very dynamic area. Most riders using the pits will have a person or persons acting as their Pit Crew, moving around the pit area, cleaning and maintaining their bikes. Equipment left unattended MUST be left on the outside edge of the marked pit area. The marshals or commissaries will move any equipment found unattended within the main pit.

Note: Equipment left in the pits is done so at the owners risk.

Can you explain the timing system?

You are given a chip on a Velcro strap when you sign on before your race. This is placed around your ankle, it doesn’t matter which but we advise you put it on your left so as to avoid it getting snagged on your drive chain. Every time you ride over the finish line mats the timing system will detect your unique chip number and log the time. This provides the organisers with a time for each lap you complete and the total time you are on the course. After finishing, just remember not to come back over the timing mat as it could cause a problem for the timing official.

When will I know what position I finished in and where do I find the results?

Unless you finished in the top three of your category, you will have to wait a day or two to know how you did. Most race results are posted within 48 hours of the day of the race. Sometimes there is an unforeseen delay in posting the results, your patience on these occasions is appreciated . All results are posted by race and subdivided into the various categories within each. The last race results, previous race results and league standings can all be found on the CXNE website. If you use Facebook, a link is always posted on the CXNE page as soon as the results from the last event are ready.

How does the points system work?

For winning a race you get 200 points, for second 199…

  1. 200 points
  2. 199
  3. 198
  4. 197
  5. 196

…and reducing by 1 point per place down through the race field.

You can keep track of where you are in the league in the results area of the website. At the end of the season, CXNE offer prizes for the top riders in the following categories:

  • Senior Men and Women
  • Veteran Men and Women, with age specific prizes for 40-50, 50-60 and 60+
  • Junior Men and Women
  • Junior Men and Women
  • Under 12, 10 and 8 boys and girls

League placings are determined by the calculation of the points accumulated from your best eight finishing positions. If you have entered more than seven races, your lowest scoring rounds are excluded.

All riders wishing to place in the league must also complete seven rounds.

What is gridding and how does it work?

Priority will be given to riders who pre-enter a race online. Gridding is when riders are called up to the start in a particular order. The first 30 riders in each race will be gridded. It is proposed to grid riders based on the average points they have earnt across the season. Gridding at round 1 will be based on the rider’s 2016/16 final league positions.

At the commissaries’ discretion, a rider who has not pre-entered but is in a top ten league position based on average points; or has a high national ranking; may be called forward onto the fourth row of the grid. It is the rider’s responsibility to inform the commissaries before gridding commences if they feel this applies to them.

Who wins the league?

At the end of the season, each rider’s best seven results are totalled up and the rider with the most points wins.

In the event of a tie on points, the higher position is awarded to the rider with the highest finishing position in the final round. If neither rider contests the final round, then the tie-break is applied to the penultimate round, then the round before that, and so on.

That’s it for our “Get Started” guide to cyclo-cross. If you’ve got any feedback, drop us a line using the contact form. Be sure to have a read through the conduct section of the website before you race. Good luck! Have Fun 🙂


Last Modified: September 12th, 2018

Copyright © Cyclo-cross North East, 2016. Made with ♥ by AFWD.