Race Prep: What to Bring to a Cyclocross Race

September 15, 2016
Cycling Accessories for Your Cyclocross Gear Bag

Cycling Accessories for Your Cyclocross Gear Bag

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: 

Clothing

  • 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! 

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Winter Cycling: How to Enjoy It with Winter Layering Basics

February 5, 2015
Jesse of BikeParts.com all bundled up in his winter cycling apparel

Jesse of BikeParts.com all bundled up in his winter cycling apparel

Cyclist ride in all weather conditions – from hot sun to cold and snowy conditions.  Now that winter is officially here, staying warm on the bike is crucial.   But how?  What is the best way to layer clothing for winter riding?

When you are riding, you want to balance your warmth and comfort with the intensity of your bike ride. If you are really bundled up when you start riding, you will likely want to start shedding layers. It may feel good to sweat in 25 degree weather, but you want clothes that are both breathable, wind-stopping, and sometimes waterproof. You also want to evaluate the type of ride you are doing? Is this a training ride? Will you be working really hard? Or are you just going to work?  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop in Golden, Colorado, we’ve been asked all of these questions.  Here is what we have found works, and works best!

Head: You can wear a buff or a cap. Buffs are really good for neck protection as well. Another option are balaclavas – especially so if you want to keep almost your entire face warm.

Eyewear: Sunglasses with yellow or orange lenses help to reduce the undulating motion of the snow surface. You can also get a solution to put on the lens to reduce moisture build up and prevent fogging.  While not as stylish as some of the cycling eyewear we carry on BikeParts.com, you could consider wearing goggles to help protect our eyes and face in snowy conditions.

Upper Body: The key with upper body warmth and comfort in the winter is layering.  Here in Colorado, as in other parts of the country as well, temperatures can change pretty quickly.  It’s best to plan ahead based on varying conditions, as well as, plan for your workout requirements.  You might find that you are either over dressed when you start working hard. Suggestions we make to customers include:

First: A light, long-sleeved jersey that has pockets in the back is a good base layer and gives you the opportunity to put extra cloths in the back pockets. Second: Put another thermal layer on top of the long-sleeved jersey. You want something fairly light, warm, and breathable. Finally, third: You want to top your upper body layering with a wind-stopper jacket that deflects wind and preferably is also waterproof.  Stop by Peak Cycles Bicycle shop and see which brand fits you best: Endura, Mavic, or Pearl Izumi.

Hands: Cold hands makes it hard to maneuver the bike.  Definitely go for long-figured gloves or liner gloves with thicker gloves.  Fatbike riders may opt for porgies.

Lower Body: In the winter you want to have something covering your entire legs.  Fleece lined chamois are often a good choice. Many bikers also use cross country ski tights under their biking shorts.  Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop has Endura and Mavoc pants, chamois, which will all be good down to about 10 degrees.  There are also waterproof pants to keep the wet off your legs. This is important if you are riding in snowy conditions.

Feet: Who likes cold toes? Nobody!  It’s really important to keep the feet warm on winter rides.  Road and mountain bike cyclist may opt for thick wool socks.  Fatbike riders will want to go with insulated shoes with thick socks. If you can get waterproof shoes, that is even better. There are a number of options out there depending on if fatbike riders  want to ride with flat pedals or clip less pedals. Riding your fat bike in the winter, you can ride with winter snow boots which will keep your feet warm. If you are riding with clipless pedals, Specialized and other companies make insulated biking boots.  Regardless of what type of bicycle you are riding, polypropelene shoe covers are a must when keeping your feet warm because they deflect wind. You can also carry chemical toe warmers in case your feet get really cold.

Seeing is believing.  See for yourself how to layer for winter cycling. Check out our very own video – a great resource outlining when to add certain layers at certain temperatures.


How to Plan Your Cyclocross Training Week

November 21, 2013

What is the best way to get good at cyclocross and have fun at the same time?  Simple –  race cyclocross – a lot!   You’ll learn technique, skills and race strategy as you go.

But for those athletes who want to focus their efforts and manage their time, a good plan it to structure your cyclocross training week .  But what does that look like?  While training time, heart rate and power zones vary, a typical training week usually includes the following.

Monday – Off Recovery is equally as important as training. The recovery period is when fitness gains are made and you reap the benefits of the hard work you’ve done. Sleep, Stretching, Hydration, and Nutrition are the SSHNs of Recovery.

Tuesday – Hard Day with Efforts.  Cyclocross races are very high intensity and extremely demanding. The racer is at or above lactate threshold for the entire race.  As such, your training efforts need to prepare you for your cyclocross race, but not tax you either.

Wednesday – Tempo Ride.  Also, a great day midweek to check your bike and bike parts.  Replace broken bike parts and components and prep your bike for the race weekend ahead.

Thursday – Recovery or Skills day.  Efficiency is Paramount.  A great racer is not only fit, but also smooth and efficient. The energy saved through skilled bike handling and smooth transitions on and off the bike directly translates into a faster race pace. So, if you’re struggling with the technical aspects of ‘cross (barriers, runups, transitions on and off the bike, general bike handling), take the time each week to practice these skills until they become second nature during a race.

Friday – Travel Day and/ or Openers.  The goal of the day is to “prime the engine” for the weekend. Intervals are meant to sharpen, not fatigue.

Saturday/ Sunday – Game ON! Race day! Good reminders to keep in mind on race day.  Leading up to your race, it’s important to stay dry.  Yet, during your race, keeping your hands and feet warm are critical.  Opt for cold weather gloves and booties and shoe covers to keep your hands and feet warm.   If you tend to have cold feet, opting for warmer socks  may help too.  While hard core racers opt to keep their clothing to a minimum, others opt for a few extra comforts including knee warmersarm warmers, and hats.  Once you have finished your race, it’s important to get undressed and get warm.  You may consider bringing a few trash bags to stow your cycling kit, cycling shoeshelmet, gloves, socks, and anything else that is soaked and muddy. Also, it’s also a good idea to have on hand your favorite post race nutritional product.

Overall, have fun! Cyclocross is a sport meant to be fun, otherwise, there wouldn’t be beer handoffs, money pits, crowds heckling the pros, or pros heckling the crowd. Unless you’re aiming for World Cup titles, there’s no reason to take this sport too seriously. Train, race hard, but above all, remember that it’s supposed to be fun.


Dress For Success: Winter Guide to Colorado CycloCross Racing

September 19, 2013

dress for successFor many competitive cyclist, the summer racing season has come to an end.  While many transition towards casual, recreational riding to finish out the season, others opt for the fast, heart throbbing racing that cyclocross season offers.

True to form in Colorado, the autumn days are upon us and soon to be replaced with colder temperatures and less favorable riding conditions.  Namely, wet, cold, and mud.  Perfectly tuned conditions to what racers love about cyclocross racing.

But, how can racing in the cold, wet, and mud be fun?  The trick is dressing for success.  Here’s how.

Leading up to your race, it’s important to stay dry.  Yet, during your race, keeping your hands and feet warm are critical.  At BikeParts.com, we offer a fully array of cold weather gloves and booties and shoe covers to keep your hands and feet warm.   If you tend to have cold feet, opting for warmer socks  may help too.

While hard core racers opt to keep their clothing to a minimum, others opt for a few extra comforts including knee warmersarm warmers, and hats.

Once you have finished your race, it’s important to get undressed and get warm.  You may consider bringing a few trash bags to stow your cycling kit, cycling shoes, helmet, gloves, socks, and anything else that is soaked and muddy. Also, it’s also a good idea to have on hand your favorite post race nutritional product.

Cyclocross racing in the colder temps of Colorado can keep your fitness sharp and be a ton of fun.  The trick is dressing for success!