The Rapha Super Cross series brings together the many faces of this thrilling cyclesport. The cycling discipline that started life as a training regime for the French cavalry in the early 20th century was then taken up by pro road racers looking for something to keep them in shape during the off-season. These days it is a sport all its own, one that demands intensive bursts of power, superlative bike-handling skills and no small amount of courage. Races last around an hour, with courses taking in fields and trails, and featuring man-made and natural obstacles that force riders to shoulder their bikes or find other inventive means to negotiate the terrain.
Rapha Super Cross is a worldwide series of racing that sees the world’s top professional riders duking it out, alongside the rough and tumble of amateur races for both adults and children. With events tailored to capture the flavour of the respective cross scenes in each country, some venues boast the festival atmosphere typical of the US scene, while others offer the more raucous support popularised in northern Europe. In addition to fast and furious pro racing action around some of the most creatively designed courses in the world, amateurs racers can expect a tequila shortcut, foam walls, music, mud and cowbells. While some races will see a serious outbreak of fancy dress, all will serve the finest local food and drink (Belgian beer and frites are compulsory).
As Frenchman Eugène Christophe, the famous rider who was the first man to wear the maillot jaune, wrote in a rallying cry to future cross racers:
“I do not speak [to] the cyclist who has achieved glory or even notability, about the champion who distinguished himself by fine exploits. I address the young cyclists, the beginners, the professionals and the amateurs, all those who love cycling and who love their bikes.”
This season sees the Rapha Super Cross series landing in Europe and Japan.