7 Weeks 'til Cyclocross

7 Weeks 'til Cyclocross

With most of the USA broiling in record high temperatures and just 7 weeks remaining until the start of the cyclocross season, it's a great time to examine how to prepare for extreme weather conditions. 

Unlike some other sports, cyclocross is held rain or shine, in heat, cold, snow, rain, and ice (the only notable exception I can think of was the recent cancellation of a World Cup due to unsafe wind conditions.) That means you need to be prepared with a positive mental attitude and the right equipment. 

Without further ado, here are some tips on how to prepare: 

  1. Get acclimated (but stay safe)
    You don't want your first experience in the heat to come in the first race of the season. It's important to train in extreme conditions so you know in advance how your body is likely to respond.

    Common sense should prevail - make sure to stay hydrated, protect yourself from frostbite; and all riders should know the signs of heat stroke and watch for them in themselves and others. 

  2. Pack appropriately
    You can't bring too much to a 'cross race! If space permits, bring a sleeveless base layer, arm and leg warmers, rain jacket, embrocation, long and short finger gloves, sunscreen, extra socks, and extra shoes. An insulated puffy jacket is lightweight, easy to pack, and a lifesaver if temperatures drop suddenly. Heat is lost through your head, so bring a beanie or cap too. You can wear sweatpants to the starting line and remove them at the last minute too. Test all this apparel now, so you don't find out that the armwarmers won't stay up or a zipper chafes you during a race. 

  3. Use pro tricks
    Coping strategies aren't only for pros. Steal their ideas! Bring a cooling vest or implement the "pantyhose trick" - fill up a set of pantyhose with ice chips and drape it around your neck to stay cool during warmups and on the starting line. Setup your indoor trainer in an air-conditioned space if possible. Research shows that increases in core body temperature inhibit performance, so take steps to control it.
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