There are so many aspects involved in cyclocross from tyre selection and tyre pressure, to mounting and dismounting and it can all be a bit overwhelming at times. Here are my top tips for racing cyclocross, whether you’re a newbie or have been racing for seasons!
1. Learn how to mount and dismount
Mounting and dismounting is crucial when it comes to CX. There’s bound to be an obstacle or mishap which requires you to dismount, then remount again. Learn it, then practice it. This is an easy way to save time and energy when it matters. Fumbling around, stepping your leg over the bike, then clipping in may be the only way you know how, but go to a skills session, ask someone more experienced, and learn from others. If you can dismount and mount properly, you’ll be much quicker and save energy in the process by maintaining speed.
For those who can do it already, keep practicing and then practice again after you’ve done a hard training session or finished efforts. There’s a difference between nailing it in a controlled environment and nailing it when you’re exhausted.
2. Don’t be afraid to get loose
At one point or another, your wheels are going to slip. Don’t be afraid, just go with it! Unlike on the road where you definitely don’t want to slip, with ‘cross it’s totally ok to get loose. A little bit of a back wheel slide, or foot dab on a loose surface or corner, and you’re still fine! In fact, if you don’t let yourself slip, you’ll never realise how fast you can really go. Besides, the beauty of CX is if you do have a little stack, you’ll likely land on dirt, grass, mud, sand, or mulch - none of which is as brutal as asphalt.
3. Be organised
There are many aspects to CX and being organised makes race day that much smoother. Write a checklist, pack your bags the night before, make sure you have enough kit for before during and after. You’ll thank yourself later.
4. Be prepared to run (first lap)
You may have a corner completely dialled. It might be easily rideable. But chances are, first lap, you’ll have to run - so be prepared to. Don’t expect to always be able to ride. When the whole field is trying to get into the same corner quickly, people slow down, make mistakes, and can’t all fit through the corner at once. Have an open mind and be ready to get off your bike (see point 1) - if you do, you’ll most likely be quicker than if you try and stay on your bike and navigate the corner and around other riders - I’ve learnt this the hard way.
5. Immerse yourself in the vibe
Grab some cowbells, drink some beer, dress up, cheer, and heckle! CX is a hell of a lot of fun and you’re bound to have an awesome time if you immerse yourself in the vibe. I’ve met some of the coolest people I know through CX and always feel comfortable, welcome, and supported at every race I go to. It’s an awesome community and one I’m proud to be a part of.