Going for a ‘cross ride

Genesis Vapour ‘cross bike fit for the purpose

Mud, dirt, grit: the cyclo-cross season is upon us. For many road cyclists, the next couple of months mark the digging out of the ‘cross bike, no doubt still covered in a layer of crusty dirt from the previous season, for a season of short but sharp ‘cross races.

For those taking it seriously, it’s a case of race-bred bikes with a single purpose in mind; light, fast and stacks of mud clearance. Water bottle mounts are superfluous, deep-section carbon rims are a virtual necessity. But, while that’s OK if you’re racing, what if you don’t want to initiate a self-induced heart attack racing around a muddy field for an hour?

I recently discovered the joys of getting out on a ‘cross bike for just riding around on. Nothing groundbreaking I’ll admit, but after years of people telling me about the unbridled joys of hacking around on a ‘cross bike in the off-season, I decided it’s high time I found out. And boy, have I been missing out.

There was no expensive race entry fee, no travelling involved, and no killing myself trying to keep up with the fast boys. Instead, I had an energetic and hugely enjoyable ride around south London taking in several parks and cheeky off-road trails in-between, all linked together with main roads.

I opted to take the new Genesis Vapour cyclo-cross bike out for a first test ride. Picking my way through the early morning traffic, I soon swapped Tarmac for gravel and dirt trails as I headed first into Richmond Park. With the low-profile knobbly tyres inflated to 60psi, I hadn’t lost much in the way of speed on the road sections and as soon as I headed into the cover of the woods and began seeking out trails, they afforded plenty of traction through even the boggiest sections. Swooping and carving through the tree-lined trails, hopping over roots and dodging errant dogs, I soon realised I was having more fun on two wheels than I had experienced in a long while.

Heading out of the park, skipping across the pavement and main road, I dived into Wimbledon Common and began a further exploration of trails, and was delighted to find many sinuous pieces of singletrack. While not the most demanding on a fully fledged mountain bike, on the ‘cross bike the combination of technicality and speed was spot on.

Key to the enjoyment was the bike’s ability to simply go wherever I wanted. Along roads, through parks, down river paths, along bridleways, nowhere was out of bounds for the ‘cross bike. It reminded me of the very reason I began cycling (among others), that of exploration. And a ‘cross bike perfectly encapsulates the human desire to explore. Know no limits, as they say.

So for me, I’ll be taking the ‘cross bike out a lot more this winter. I may even race, but there may be more joy and satisfaction from the simple act of ‘cross riding.

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.