Cyclo-cross season is here and with it comes wet, cold conditions that test your bike skills, gear setup and clothing. Having the right gear for the conditions is imperative for cyclocross so you can be confident on your ride.
CYCLOCROSS BIKE SET-UP
If you are going to use a mountain bike, fat-bike or road bike, check your local race rules to ensure your bike meets the requirements. Handlebars often need to be cut or swapped for narrower ones.
To have your bike ready for cyclocross practice or races you should make a few adjustments. First off, remove bottle cages. The race is short so you won’t need them, and they get in the way when you shoulder your bike. Several companies make quick-mount water bottles to allow you to train with fluids but then quickly remove those pesky bottle-cages for race day.
Make sure your handlebar tape is fresh and free of rips so you have a good interface with the bike, and make sure you have bar-plugs in the ends of the handlebar for safety during dismounts or crashes. Your handlebars may need to be raised slightly if you were riding your cross bike on the road.
While riding your cross bike in training or for pre-riding a course, it is handy to have a clip-on fender to keep mud off your back. There are models that attach to the seat and seat-post.
READ MORE > THE JOYS OF CYCLOCROSS
If you’re riding on the road for training or to get to a race site, a blinking light and detachable saddle-bag will keep you safe.
Use mountain bike shoes and cleats. If your shoes have holes, install toe-cleats early in the season to make running up muddy or sandy hills easier and faster.
CYCLOCROSS CLOTHING ESSENTIALS
The most important part of dressing well is having the right gear when you need it. Good clothes extend your riding season and make you less concerned about the weather report. Build your clothing wardrobe over time and keep an eye on offseason sales — or for generous friends with an old team kit you could add to your wardrobe. Watch that key pieces like warm, breathable jackets and waterproof shells are not discount models that won’t last long or trap sweat like a garbage bag.
Key things you will need to race cross into the early winter:
- Windbreaker and rain jacket (Ideally Gore-Tex or other waterproof)
- Wind vest
- Leg warmers and arm warmers
- Long tights with zippers at the ankle to allow easy removal at the start-line
- Long-sleeve thermal jersey
- Thermal undershirt
- Big sunglasses with clear and tinted lenses to keep mud out of your eyes
- Hat and neck-gaiter/scarf (this is surprisingly helpful; get one!)
- Wool socks
- Shoe covers/booties
- 3–4 pairs of gloves with a variety of thickness (thick/thin)
- Spare kit for pre-riding the course