10 Things I Learned This Year Not Racing Cyclocross

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Llama racing cyclocross as Speed Racer at Campton in 2011

Llama racing cross as Speed Racer at Campton in 2011

Cyclocross is my favorite discipline of racing bicycles, and I look forward to the next cross season the minute the last one is over. Not just for the racing, but for the camaraderie between friends, racers, and spectators. It is a blast. I love it, but this year I had an injury that required back surgery in July. No cyclocross racing for me, but, I still went to as many races as I could, and here is what I learned….

  1. Getting ready for the race is waaaaaaaay easier when you are just watching. – No more packing my bag full of every piece of gear I have in case of weather changes or multiple races in one day. Pack 1/4 of the gear the night before, then the next morning just shower, dress, eat, make coffee, and go. Pow. Bang. Done.
  2. Wear proper footwear. – Standing all day in the cold or wet can be taxing on your feet. When it is cold and wet, I will usually wear a pair of Gore-Tex Socks as well just in case. They not only are waterproof, but windproof too, and help keep my tootsies happy. Another something I always bring, is at least one pair of extra socks, sometimes two.
  3. I get to help people with their bikes. – If you know me, you know I like to help people out. Matter of fact, it is how I met my wife. So, if I can’t race, I can help more people in need of support. Cyclocross racing can be intimidating for some, and when it comes to race day, your bike is all funky for some reason, and there is no neutral SRAM support available, I will always help out. It does’nt matter who you are, or if you race for another team, if I can fix your speed waggon, I will. Village Cycle Center did one heck of a job this year helping out at the races, and without their tools, supplies, and support, I couldn’t fix as many bikes as I did. Thanks VCC!
    Village Cycle Center Support for Cyclocross Races

    Village Cycle Center Support

  4. More time for cheering and heckling! – Bring your cowbells, horns, and lungs! One of the amazing thing about cyclocross is that usually the slower you are, the more support and cheers you get from the spectators, while on the other end, if you are sand baggin’, the crowd will let you know. When it comes to heckling, the Chicago Cross Cup scene is legendary. Just a reminder to those new folks, heckles are not personal attacks, heckling like that, makes you an ass. Don’t be one of those, you might get shunned.
    Racing Cyclocross is lots of fun

    Photo by Snowy Mountain Photography

  5. No more worrying about how much you eat before you race. – Big ol’ breakfast here I come! If you race one of those early races, you know what I am talking about. I once ate Thai food on the way to Jingle Cross, and during our race a few hours later, shall we just say, it was not pleasant.
  6. Make friends with the folks who have heated tents. – This is not as important during the first few races of our season, but give it a month, and watch out now, it gets COLD. During the infancy of Kinky Llama Racing, we had no tent of our own, so we did what all good new teams do… mooched off everyone we could. But that is the great thing about the people involved with the Chicago Cross Cup, we all take care of each other. Village Cycle Center invested into two nice tents with side walls, and KLR brought the heat this year. Guess how many new friends we made?
    Bring the heat during the colder races for cyclocross

    Bring the heat!

  7. Bring a chair or blanket. – It is a long day if you stay for the all the races. Post back surgery, standing all day is not quite an option for me, so I would bring a chair and a blanket. On nice days, the blanket in the sun was pleasant, but if it’s wet, you don’t want a wet booty all day. The blanket and chair combo work out well the colder it gets too. Butt off the ground, and a blanket all around. Warm and toasty.
  8. Gore-Tex and Gore Windstopper are the bomb. –  I already knew this, but when the temps drop and the rains come, nothing keeps you warm and dry like Gore Bike Wear with Gore-Tex and Windstopper fabrics. Always in layers, I bring a bit more than I expect to need, just in case. Usually someone else may not be as prepared as the boy scout in me is, and I have extra to share.
  9. Time to help set up, maintain, and tear down the course. – These races do not happen without the support of volunteers. Though I am never really an official volunteer, I will always be out there repairing course tape during the race and tearing down when I can. Post back surgery, I wasn’t as nimble as usual, but still helped out as much I could.
    Course tape and barrier fixed at cyclocross race!

    Course tape and barrier fixed!

  10. There is always next year. – Cubs fans know this saying better than anyone, but as I watched everyone race, I couldn’t help but be a bit jealous. There are some really fun races in the Chicago Cross Cup series, I freaking love racing cross, and missed it terribly this year. There is always next year, and hopefully I will be able to race, but if not, I will still be there having a grand ol’ time, because… I FREAKING LOVE CYCLOCROSS!

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1 Comment

  1. Anthony Mikrut
    4 years ago Reply

    Something else I thought of…. I always bring an extra roll of toilet paper in a ziploc bag. Nothing is worse than needing to use one of the port-o-potties and having no TP. The ziploc keeps it safe from cross racing conditions, and ready for use.

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