If you’re chomping at the bit to get ready for cyclocross, or even you’re in the middle of a mountain or road season and tired of losing your stuff, this week’s tip is simple but incredibly effective.

Between the weather and course variability we often face, heading to a cyclocross race usually involves schlepping and keeping track of a lot of clothing and gear in general. This week’s Mechanical Mondays feature is a favorite and falls under the low-tech banner, but it’s one that could pay off with better gear management and perhaps a faster pit exchange. So get tagging.

by Dave Drumm

Cyclocross is a sport that requires a wide variety of equipment. Each week, we load our cars to the breaking point with trainers, wheels, tools, buckets, pumps, and clothes. We carry enough stuff to outfit a small army. Our race days are filled with distractions and keeping track of all that stuff can become an issue, especially for an amateur racer that doesn’t have the luxury of a handler who takes care of all the little details.

We place our spare wheels in the pit during the race that runs prior to our own, so that we can get in a good warm up. Then, we leave our thermal jackets on the fence at the start and trust that they’ll be there when we’re finished.

After a hard 45 or 60-minute race, typically we’ll focus on getting warm and fed right away, and more often than not we’re a little out of sorts after torturing ourselves. It’s not uncommon to forget or misplace some items from our race-day equipment pile.

Writing your name on your equipment and clothing is a simple way to make sure you get it back in the event that you forget something at the venue. In my tool kit I keep two Sharpies, one silver and one black. Everything I bring to the races has my name on it somewhere.

Dave Drumm says if you want to keep your stuff, mark it with a permanent Sharpie marker. Silver for dark stuff, black for light stuff.

Dave Drumm says if you want to keep your stuff, mark it with a permanent Sharpie marker. Silver for dark stuff, black for light stuff.

All of my clothing has my name written on the inside of the collar. This is a simple trick from summer camp, but I didn’t start using it again until Gloucester in 2006, when there were 20 people staying in the HUP house, and most of us were teammates. Laundry sorting was a trying experience. My jackets, vests, legwarmers all have my name and cell phone number because these are the items that usually get dumped at the start line and, more often than not, these are the things I forget about. It’s a very good idea to put this information on your trainer and floor pump as well – cyclocross racers are a nice group, and we regularly let people borrow these expensive items.

The pit is an easy place to lose track of costly gear. In particular, it’s a really good idea to put your name on your spare wheels. I write my last name on the sidewall of my clinchers with a silver sharpie, tubulars get black.

Another really good tip that will help you find your wheels quickly during the heat of a third lap wheel change is to mark your hubs by placing a brightly colored zip tie around the center of the front and rear hubs. You can purchase multi-color packs of zip ties at your local hardware store for a few bucks.

A simple colored zip tie will distinguish your pit or race wheels from those of your teammate's or other racer's. photo: Dave Drumm

A simple colored zip tie will distinguish your pit or race wheels from those of your teammate’s or other racer’s. photo: Dave Drumm

How many Ksyrium wheels with black Michelin Mud clinchers are in the pit? How many of those have a bright orange stripe on the hub? It’s a simple trick that will help you find your wheels when you need them and also help prevent someone else from taking your wheels by mistake.

I hope you find these pointers useful!

One additional stuff-retaining tip we have, thanks to Specialized’s Sean Estes, is to keep your car keys in the pits, inside your spare wheel bag or something similar. It will either ensure that you won’t head home without visiting the pit, or that someone else will not only enjoy your spare wheels or pit bike, but your four-wheel vehicle as well. 

See other helpful Cyclocross Magazine Mechanical Monday article here.