The tireless crew worked hard to drain the course of excessive water on day 2 of the Masters Cyclocross World Championships. © Cyclocross Magazine
No matter the weather, the cyclocross race will always go on—in fact, ask most pro racers which kind of course they prefer and most will tell you they love the mud. Nationals was freezing, and the Masters Worlds course needed to be drained to make it even slightly ride-able, but still, the races happened.
Moral of the story? Be prepared for the worst. Riding cross-eyed with your legs full of pain is tough enough—you don’t want to be forced out of your race from being too cold. If it’s raining, an extra set of clothes for the pre-ride and warm-up is highly recommended. A waterproof jacket and pants is also helpful in keeping you warm until you head to the start line. Don’t take off those layers until you have to: Most Elite racers roll to the start line so bundled up you can’t tell them apart.
Don’t forget to bring a warm set of clothes to change into after the race. You’ll want to watch others suffer through the same conditions, and a nice warm jacket will let you enjoy a nice cold beer and some food while you watch the show.
In the wet and cold, consider using embrocation to keep your legs warm instead of legwarmers that will soak through in seconds—we have a full set of embro reviews here—but apply carefully!
In extreme conditions like the 2013 USAC Cyclocross National Championships, plain water by itself couldn’t be used to clean bikes because it would ice up. If you’re committed to racing in those types of conditions, you get a big pat on the back, but you’ll also need to incorporate some type of antifreeze to keep the gears turning.
Cyclocross in any weather requires a lot of spare clothes and a dedication to maintaining your bike: It doesn’t have to be super expensive, but it does take some serious forethought and planning.
Find all of the FAQ’s listed here, and make sure you’re subscribed to Cyclocross Magazine, your guide for getting into the sport, and upping your ’cross knowledge. Not subscribed yet? Our Issue 21 has a great feature on buying your first cyclocross bike, and Issue 22 has a story on how to get into racing and what to expect at your first race.