Cyclocross Newbies – Tips to Prep for Your First Cyclocross Race

Cyclocross bikes at BikeParts.com

Cyclocross is one of the fastest growing sections of cycling – it’s an all-out mad dash through the dirt, pavement, grass, mud, sand, snow and/or ice that will leave you sucking wind, barely able to see straight. Surprisingly, this is addictive and you’ll be excited to do it again.

The course is held on a relatively short track (2 miles or less) making it spectator-friendly as well. Cyclocross is also one of the few sports where heckling is not only carried on by the spectators but encouraged, even by the top-level touring elites.

Sounds fun, right?  It is!  Cyclocross is a wonderful way for road cyclists and mountain bikers to extend their competitive seasons and get a head-start on training for next season. If you are new to the discipline, then where do you start? Following are our tips to get you racing your first cross race.

  • Get a cyclocross bike. If you are new to cyclocross, you’ll want to check out our cyclocross bikes online at bikeparts.com. Equipment choices matter! Things to consider for cross racing includes the best bike parts and and tire choice for the types of races you’ll be doing. While bike setup and having the right cyclocross bicycle parts matters, one of the most important parts of all is tire selection and their pressure.
  • Get a bike fit.  As you know, bikes come in all sizes and shapes, and there are endless bike parts and cycling accessories that can be added or swapped to make bikes a better fit for you. When considering a bike that will actually fit you, most bike experts consider things like frame size, frame dimensions, saddle height, top tube and stem dimensions, knee and cleat position, handle bar size, crank length and body angle. Cyclocross is a little different than road or mountain bike riding. Cyclocross is a sport based in technique, and while much of technique is based around handling and body position, both of those factors are determined by the fit of a bicycle. Do yourself a favor and get a bike fit.  
  • Attend a clinic.  If your new to the sport, a formal clinic can be a great way to get acclimated to the sport while making some racing friends. Attending a clinic can help improve your technical skills and help you to confidently navigate your first cross race. 
  • Make a cyclocross gear bag. Although cross races are short, because of the time of year and the variability of the weather during the races, 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.  Granted, it will take time to nail down the packing system that works best for you; however, we have compiled a checklist for you in our post, Race Prep: What to Bring to a Cyclocross race.

Now that you have the tips to preparing for your first cyclocross race, put your skills to use! Get your cowbell ready and plan your cross racing season.  See you at the races!

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