To the average road cyclist, whose sport is epitomised by clean-shaven legs and French idioms, cyclocross can seem like a strange undertaking. The abundance of mud, steeples and repeated falling over seems counter- intuitive, but for the winter- bound road racer in 1940s Europe it became an essential training tool. The Belgians and Dutch - as one would expect - have always had a keen hand in popularising the sport and to this day hold it on par with road cycling.
The etymology can be traced back still, with records from the early 1900s describing French army private Daniel Gousseau riding his bicycle with horse-mounted friends through woodland terrain. This is a sport for the tough - for those who are prepared to get their hands, and bikes, dirty.
South West Cyclocross is a non-profit, voluntary organisation who host numerous races across the South West of England during the winter season. Competitors do not need to hold a British Cycling racing license to take part and as such it is the most accessible of competitive cycling events.
This reportage investigates the mud-lusting myths surrounding the sport and what attracts the riders. Indeed, upon arriving at a field full of such hardy people on a wind- and rain-lashed November afternoon, the promise of mud did not disappoint.