Cyclist in general are obsessed with weight. As in, how much their bike parts weigh? How heavy is the bike? How much is the the scale lying to you?
And, the list goes on. Ironically, cyclocross is the only cycling discipline that counters the weight obsession. That is at least, in the preparation department. Everything else applies. Cyclocross races are short, ranging from 30 minutes to an hour depending on category, yet they require the most equipment prep of any bike racing discipline. Part of that relates to the time of year and the variability of the weather. Racers need to be ready to deal with wind, rain, snow, hail, ice, mud, fog, etc. The gear preparation and the cycling apparel adds up. There is gear for warming up, gear for racing, gear for cooling down, gear for the bikes and gear for creating a fun and enjoyable atmosphere. In addition, it is often not enough to have a single piece of equipment or clothing; several may be needed for the day.
Which ultimately begs the question- What do you bring to a cyclocross race? It will take time to nail down the packing system that works best for you; there are lots of individual preferences. However, we’ve compiled a checklist for you. For starters, plan to use a gear bag that opens up wide and allows you to see everything within quickly. Fill it up with these items:
- Rain jacket, rain pants, waterproof boots.
- One set of jersey/shorts and one skinsuit. One to warm up in, one to race in. Having extras is good too.
- Long sleeve jersey for warmups.
- Extra base layers.
- Vest, arm warmers, leg warmers, knee warmers. These are for warm-ups.
- Two pairs of shoes. Race pair and a backup just in case one breaks or the first pair is wet and muddy from pre-riding the course.
- Two helmets. Again, in case of a mechanical.
- Two pairs of gloves. Depending on the weather, you may opt for four or five pairs. Short and long-fingered race gloves, a light, medium, and heavy pair of warm-up or standing around gloves.
- Tights or warm up pants.
- Two to three pairs of socks, preferably wool.
- Large garbage bags or ziplock bags to store wet and muddy clothes and gear.
- Winter jacket.
- Cycling cap and or a beanie.
- Sunglasses with multiple lenses.
Gear and Equipment
- Bike. Make sure it’s clean, tuned-up, and ready to ride. If you need bike maintenance, bring it into the shop! Also, remember to take off the water bottle cages, your saddle bag, and anything else you’ve attached to the bike.
- Pump, tools, chain lube, and other maintenance items.
- Safety pins to pin your number to your jersey.
- Towels: large and small. Use the smaller ones for clean up and the larger one for changing clothes. You might opt for extra towels to wipe down the bike.
- Baby wipes – great for cleaning everywhere after the race
- Heat packs to stay warm prior to and post race.
- Water bottles for before and after the race.
- Energy drink mix, gels, bars, and nutritional items.
- Cash for coffee, food, and extras at the venue site.
- Folding chairs
- iPod or music player – good for warming up.
- Water – bring at least one gallon of water, not only for drinking, but for cleaning.
- Stationary trainer for warming up and cooling down. FYI, bring an extra rear wheel. Warm up on the trainer with a regular tire.
- Spare wheels –Bring wheels with tires that have different treads for different conditions.
Now that you have your gear bag ready, it’s time to race cross. If you are new to cyclocross, check out our cyclocross bikes online at bikeparts.com. Dial in the best bike parts and and tire choice. Finally, register for an upcoming cross race! Click here for a list of races along the Front Range for September. Bring on the cowbell friends!