by Jacob Fetty
Unless you are a full-fledged sponsored ’cross racer, racing ’cross can be costly. Heck, even if you are sponsored, racing is expensive and we are often forced to be mindful of our expenditures. At the same time, our inner-consumer is being pulled in a variety of directions as to what we need to buy in order to be competitive–lighter wheels, more powerful brakes, a cool helmet: the list goes on. But at the end of the day, some investments have better payoff than others.
Four tools to consider that have significant return on investment:
Training (and racing) tubulars:
Generally, you can pick up a (slightly) used set from the local racer in your area for peanuts, or your local bike shop may have access to a good deal on left-over stock. If you are thrifty and start now, picking up a set should not be a problem. Training on tubulars is important. Bike driving is a significant portion of ’cross racing. A mistake many make is to race on tubulars and train on clinchers. To truly become a better bike driver and to go fast on race day, you need to practice on what you plan to race on, or at least come as close as possible to that.
A coach to work with and/or a camp or clinic:
Base for ’cross starts soon. Do you have a plan of attack for the upcoming season?
Look for coaching packages that extend the value by attending a camp. At Cycle-Smart we offer great (inexpensive) plans to attendees of our annual ’cross camp. Look around your area and see what is available. Aside from Cycle-Smart, you may want to consider camps by FasCat or JVB Coaching, as they typically have various offerings in different locations, and keep an eye out on CXM’s calendar on the website.
Coaching, in a nutshell, allows you to have a sound plan that follows time-tested guidance and is technique-centered around objective and honest feedback.
Start a container garden on your deck, reevaluate your food budget and expenses and look for areas where you can increase whole foods that are nutrient-rich. You likely do not need to go overboard recreating your entire consumption pattern, but an honest evaluation of your intake cross referenced by potentially increasing your food budget can yield magical results. Think of food as fuel. Spend the next couple months learning quick and nutritious recipes so that when the madness of cyclocross season starts you already have your routine streamlined.
Hire a babysitter:
If you are a parent, it is likely that your biggest limiter is time. While you can’t buy time, you can certainly buy a couple hours of freedom. ’Cross training does not take enormous hours of training per week. Rather, it takes a few focused hours of training per week. If you have kids but don’t have much time, if you can afford it, spring for a babysitter a couple times per week to give you the ability to get out and focus on your workout, plus a few extra minutes post workout to decompress. If you can take this route, you will be ahead of the game.