As September is approaching, I have a lot going on, but one thing that keeps me going and has me excited for the end of my MSc is the start of the winter cyclocross season.
If you’ve been around these web pages for a while you’ll know I took part in my first ever cyclocross race back in November 2018 and have been trying to put all the pieces together since to make a comeback for 2019. All the cyclocross gear and no idea?! That might be me.
In my post covering what you can expect at your first cyclocross (aka CX) race I did cover all the basics of what you would need, but me being me, if I’m gonna do something, I want to make it the easiest, most enjoyable and comfortable experience possible. So I’ve put together all the cyclocross kit essentials to make every race I take part in go off without a hitch… because cross is coming!
Do You Need A Cross Bike To Race?
The majority of events allow you to participate on a mountain bike and from my experience it’s a good place to start whilst you get used to the sport. This season though, all being well, I’ll be on a cross bike – specifically, the Liv Brava SLR – which seems like a versatile pair of wheels that might take me on more adventures than the cyclocross season.
The only accessory I will need for the bike are pedals and I’ve been told the best option is to kit myself out with SPD MTB pedals and cleats as with the majority of riders choosing that option, it means there is more chance of help should I need something at an event.
I might however start the season on flat pedals with trail running shoes… I still have a little time to make that decision. If you’re not too sure about pedals you can read my post to help you decide if you should even clip in or not.
Liv Brava SLR Overview
Although the Brava is an aluminium frame it’s still described by Liv as being lightweight. This is super important for the times you need to pick up the bike during the race, possibly to shoulder it and run.
The top tube is shaped for mount and dismount ease as well as shouldering comfort so that’s a bonus. It comes with disc brakes which are good for wetter weather giving you more control.
The latest 2020 model is all black so sleek and won’t show dirt as much. It comes with two water bottle mounts but I think if I use them, it’ll just be one. Seems like the perfect winter race bike that will see you through all other mixed terrain rides year round.
Once I’ve received the bike and had a chance to get some rides on it I’ll be sure to come back with an update and review. Till then though I’ll continue getting excited about the upcoming season and getting prepared…
Basic Cyclocross Kit List
- Jersey (long sleeved, or arm warmers)
- Base layer
- Tights or shorts
- Long finger gloves
- Cycling shoes or trainers
Some Added Extras…
- Race belt
- Headband / ear warmer
- Cycling cap
- Sunglasses (clear when not sunny)
- Kit bag (check out the Osprey Transporter)
There were plenty of riders wearing what I would call summer cycling kit for races because yes, once you get going you get hot really quickly. But personally, I prefer to be too hot than too cold so always opted for fuller coverage.
If your event is one that is muddy, it’s worth wearing kit that is darker to avoid it getting stained with mud and I use a race belt (like a triathlon race belt) to save me having to put safety pins into my (not cheap) jerseys. I’m speaking from experience here!
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Extra CX Gear For An Enjoyable Race Experience
- Pressure washer
- Cleaning kit
- Dry robe
- Warm up clothes / layers
- Warm outfit for post race
- Wet wipes
- Heart rate belt
- Water bottles
- Spare parts for your bike
As I live in a flat, cleaning a muddy bike indoors is the last thing I want do. Neither do I want to put a muddy bike in the car so a pressure washer is the way to go.
There is one version that you can plug in via a 12v cigarette lighter port* in your car but I don’t think my car has one of those. The version I have my eye on* has a rechargeable battery which also makes it a little more portable. Here’s another popular model* that you can buy on Amazon.
After cleaning the bike, you might need a quick wipe down as well so make sure you pack the baby wipes, a towel and a spare change of clothes. Otherwise, carry some black bin bags to cover the seat when you sit down.
Recommended Bike Insurance Companies
If you don’t already have bike insurance this is something you might want to consider especially if you’re gonna be riding a carbon bike in a cross race. Other than that, you might want to get insured for racing too but that comes with the British Cycling Race Membership.
It also seems that a lot of people have their bikes insured under their home insurance so I’d suggest that to be your first port of call. Otherwise, here are some other insurance companies that came recommended:
- Yellow Jersey
- Pedal cover
Do You Need Gels For A Cross Race?
Each race lasts between 40 and 60 minutes (for adults) depending on which category you are in. So the event isn’t really long enough to warrant in event gel intake.
You might wanna swallow a gel before the start of the race though to ensure you have a decent energy store to dig into. Use gels that you have practiced with so you know how long before the race to eat it to allow enough time for it to “kick in”.
Get Signed Up For Your First Cyclocross Event
All that’s left fo you to do now is pick a race, sign up and turn up. All the cyclocross events are suitable for beginners and everyone is always really friendly and welcoming.
All being well, I should be on the start line at Campbell Park, Milton Keynes on Saturday September 28th 2019. The Central Cyclo-Cross league are aiming to get 100 women racing in the Junior and Senior women’s category which would be a record in the UK cyclo-cross scene!
So get your cyclocross kit together people… ‘cos CROSS IS COMING!
Laura Lawson says
Nice write up, Elle. So glad you’ve caught the cyclo-cross bug after your first races last season!
I wanted to say that you really don’t need a lot of kit to try or get into cyclo-cross. Yes, the top end of the racers, have a custom skinsuit, 2 carbon bikes and a pit crew to support their efforts but it’s not like that for most of us! I started out with my MTB, summer kit and a pair of arm warmers. Now, I have a cross-bike but all else remains the same. Races are only short so it’s not like long road riding in the winter where warm, waterproof kit is crucial. The important bit is giving it a go to see how much fun it is and how welcoming the cyclo-cross league communities are.
The race on 28 September (CCXL R3 – CX in the City II) is being organised by my club, Velobants.cc, and the club women, will all be on hand to help give tips and calm nerves for any new ladies who wish to give it a try. Sign up is here: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events/details/212141/CCXL-R3—CX-in-the-City-II
And if your readers can’t make the date, there are lots of other races to choose from between the London, Central and Eastern Leagues and all have friendly women to chat to. #crossiscoming #100WMN
Maybe see you on the start line at Hillyfields?
Awww as you know, I can’t make Hillyfields 🙁 but am all signed up for the 28th. Literally can’t wait lol …and the cx community has been amazing… I’m excited for more women to get involved and get to experience it! You’ve been a great inspiration to me so thank you again for your support! <3