Cyclists in general and cyclocrossers specifically are always looking for upgrades, either to increase speed, improve enjoyment or reduce maintenance. Coach Chris Mayhew and others have previously chimed in and helped with our popular three-bucket guidelines for making meaningful, affordable upgrades. Now for today’s Training Tuesday column, Mayhew is back to opine on how to spend your hard-earned money to get better and faster, not just with physical purchases but with expert services. Get started on your best cyclocross season with his tips below.

Cycling has gotten to be an expensive sport. Part of that is fashion and part of that is the technology involved in bikes today. It can be very hard to figure out where to spend money to maximize your performance and enjoyment of the sport. This column is a list of where I would prioritize spending your money for the best return, in approximate ordinal ranking.

Some caveats to this list: it's performance based. If you're racing to enjoy the scene and drink beer, that's rad. I'd be happy to coach you on the best bourbon for your money, just reach out. If you are just starting to race, don't spend any money at all except on racing fees and gas! You don't even know what you don't know. Spend a year just racing and traveling and after that you'll have a much better sense of what you want or need. But that first year, keep things as inexpensive as possible.

Mayhew's Guide to Spending Money on Cyclocross Upgrades:

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Get to a UCI race!

This is a big one for me. So many people race their local scene and never see how another region does it, or what it looks like to see pros tackle the same course you did. Find a UCI-sanctioned race near you, or make it a goal to travel to a big race at some point. Walk around the course and watch the pros tackle the section you had trouble with. I spent a big portion of last year focusing on being a super fan and it was one of the most enjoyable seasons I’ve had in a long time.

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For the record, this was their idea. Thanks guys.

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The access you have to pro athletes is unprecedented. You’re never going to throw a football in an NFL stadium but you can race the same course as the pros and watch them do it later. This doesn’t apply to every scene. If you race Super8, OVCX or NECX for instance, go hug your local promoter for bringing those races to you. (I am sure there are series or races I have left out! Those are the ones I’m most familiar with.) But for most people, make it a point to get out there and see the bigger world. [

[The 2017-2018 UCI Race Calendar is now public here. -Ed.]

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