With cyclocross season here, many of us will be spending a lot of time driving to and from races. To help make the process smoother and to ensure you don’t forget key items, Chris Mayhew has advice on what to pack in your bag or car during cyclocross season.
A quick list of things I think you should keep in your bag or car at all times for cyclocross races. Pack it now, leave it there. If you travel to a big weekend in someone else’s vehicle, remember to bring it with you from your car.
A chain. They break. Get the cheapest one you’re comfortable with. This is just something to save your race weekend, not necessarily for the long term. Cut it to length now (and use a quick link to secure it) so you don’t have to fool with that under duress.
A rear derailleur. Same as above, the cheapest one that works with your stuff. Rear derailleurs break a lot. I recently had a brand new one fail on my first warm-up lap. In my experience ’cross chews through them both through regular use, especially at the main pivot, and mishaps. You might as well just have one on hand.
Rear derailleur cables. One or two will do. It’s easier to replace rear mechs if you don’t have to worry about reusing the old cable.
Rear derailleur hanger. Sensing a trend? These can pretty easily be bent. You can straighten it at the shop on Monday. Over the weekend, just keep the one you throw on quickly.
Cleat bolts. Never in my years of running Time pedals did I lose one, but I see it a lot with Shimano pedals. Just keep the old bolts next time you replace your cleats. You can even keep them in your water bottle boss holes!
Slightly worn cleats. You may not need these, but it’s so easy to have a fresh pair on hand. What I do is replace a set of cleats before they are really blown out. Then I have a pair that are worn in enough to work well without that sticky break-in period the brand new cleats have.
Tubes, obviously, if you’re running tubed tires. If you’re not, bring what you would need to repair your equipment. That could be a small can of sealant for tires. That could be a plug kit for tubeless. Whatever tires you have, have something you can repair them with.
A 5nm preset torque key with a couple of bits will cover 90% of what you need to tighten to spec on a bike (or close enough) and will handle pedal cleats as well. 4mm, 5mm Allen and T25 Torx should cover all your needs, but check your stem, handlebar and seatpost clamp to be sure.
This may be personal, but Boas for your shoes. I churn through them. I think I went through eight last calendar year? So far only one this year, thankfully. Don’t forget the little Boa tool that lets you get in there either. Even if you don’t need to replace the cables, sometimes you need to clean the gunk out of there after a sandy or muddy race.
Two things you don’t need spares of but are really nice are helmets and shoes. It’s so nice to change clothes and go to the line with a dry helmet on. The same thing goes for shoes as well, especially after a messy pre-ride. Clean shoes also improve your odds of a clean clip-in off the line rather than the muddied up shoes you warmed up in.
And I’ll use the vast sway I have on this platform to hopefully start a new trend. Bring your own safety pins to races. I have a small prescription bottle from the vet that’s filled with pins. Now I don’t have to take them from registration.
You take eight every weekend (at least) for how many weekends? Where do they all go? (They go into the nooks and crannies of Chris’ car) It’s a small way to cut back on waste and an easy area to take responsibility for.
Finally, bring the basic tools you’ll need to replace any of these parts. But there are many articles on how to set up a travel tool kit, so I’ll leave it at that.
For more tech tips and tricks, see our Mechanical Monday archives, including our recent Ask the Mechanics about disc brakes.