Cyclocross Bikes, Skills, and Food

by Kristi Berg

It’s hard to believe with the record high temperatures here in Seattle that the Cyclocross season is fast approaching. With the first race here in Seattle starting September 4th it’s time to thing about bikes, practice and proper care of your body.

First thing to start thinking about is your Cyclocross bicycle. Like a lot of people racing cross, you are probably needing to take apart your road bike to add some parts to the cross bike. Start this process now, if you need to take the bicycle into a bike shop you are going to want to do this soon so that they have time to switch things over for you before the first race. This is also a great time to clean every part of your cross bike, inspecting every part to make sure that they are all in good working order. You don’t want to start out with parts that are old and tired from the road season, that will likely break during the cross season.

Once the cross bike is built up you are going to want to jump right into practicing the skills of Cyclocross. If this is your first season of racing cross I would encourage you attend cross practices to help you work on the fundamentals of Cyclocross. At Cycle U we offer some great classes to get you started on the right foot. These classes walk you through the developmental skills of Cyclocross teaching you the proper way to mount and dismount your bicycle along with the proper way to shoulder your bicycle on run ups and over barriers and also several other aspects of Cyclocross. These classes are great not only for beginners but also for the seasoned cross racer to sharpen those skills that you have not used since last cross season.

Focus of practice:

Smooth remounts without hopping

Stepping through with inside leg into a run on faster dismounts

Gently putting bike down after running sections – no rear wheel bounces

Grabbing the bike on downtube as you dismount into a run-up

Once you have started to master the skills of Cyclocross it is time to get out and race. If this is your first race season some things you will really want to think about is preparing yourself for any kind of weather. Since this is Washington and you never know what the weather has in store here, you want to make sure that you always come prepared for any conditions. Here is the plan:

Pack up a race bag with everything you can think of, from booties to rain coats,

keep that bag stocked always so that you can just grab it on race day

always be prepared.

Warming crème or lubricant for your legs. These lubricants are great to rub on your skin before your race in wet and cold conditions to protect your skin from the moisture and cold temperatures. Ask your local shop.

Make sure also that you are practicing good nutrition habits on race day. Try to eat between 2-3 hours before your race so that you have adequate time to digest your food. Take in some form of simple sugar approximately 15 minutes before your race start, to ensure proper energy during your race. And it is very important to hydrate very well the day before and the morning of your race. In Cyclocross you don’t have water bottle cages on your bike so that you can shoulder your bike easily, so therefore you are not drinking fluid during your race. That is why it is so important to super hydrate before your race and to drink as soon as you finish to avoid dehydration.

Remember to start early with your preparation both mechanically and physically so you have an awesome season. Have fun and race hard!


Kristi has won the Seattle Cyclocross Womens division overall championship the past 9 years, is USAC and ACE certified and is Head of Women’s Cycling at Cycle University.

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