After last weekend’s UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championship races (with excellent results for Britain’s Nathan Smith, Zoe Backstedt and a lesson in how to ride a course with no mud from Tom Pidcock), the 2021/22 cyclo-cross season is drawing to a close.
Those who follow me on Twitter or Instagram will know that my eldest teenager is a keen cyclo-cross racer and this year has seen me supporting him at all six National Trophy rounds and the British National Championships as well as a few league races. February means I get some weekends back in a temporary lull before road and MTB Cross Country (XC) take over.
Whilst I’d love to travel to races in a van, or even a motorhome, my budget means that transport is an estate car (currently a Volvo V60 D4) and accomodation is often a Premier Inn. So what does an aspiring cyclocross racer need their support team to take?
A few years ago, I wrote a post about the tools in my box. Since then, I’ve added the following:
- A big adjustable wrench.
- Bottom bracket removal and installation kit.
- A rubber mallet.
- Bleed kit for Shimano hydraulic brakes
- Disc rotor removal tool.
- Some decent tyre levers.
- Vernier callipers.
Then there are the cyclo-cross specifics (although many of these come in handy for other race disciplines too):
- Water (10 litre AdBlue containers are a good size for transport – I take 4 to a race, inside a 64 litre Really Useful Box to avoid spillages – a lesson learned from experience).
- A battery powered pressure washer (and spare battery). I use a 20V model from Worx (and newer models are more powerful). There are people who will tell you that a battery washer is no good and that a high-pressure petrol washer is a necessity. Whilst a petrol washer will undoubtably get a bike clean more quickly and I’m always happy to use one if I’m with a team-mate: a) they are unreliable (the battery one is a good backup); b) they are dreadful for the environment (both petrol fumes and volume of water used); c) the better race organisers are now providing decent wash equipment (e.g. the Clanfield Cross event that was sponsored by Kärcher, or the new Hope setup featured at Round 6 of the 2021 National Cyclocross Trophy).
How it started… and how it went…— Mark Wilson ??? (@markwilsonit) December 12, 2021
Two @UCI_CX races, with very different wash setups: the first at @ClanfieldCX International #CycloCross yesterday; and the second at @BritishCycling‘s #NatCXTrophy round today. Opportunity for @KarcherUK?#LifeOfABikeMechanic #CyclistsDad pic.twitter.com/ctAZAuYxKI
Brilliant to see @HopeTech creating such a fantastic bike wash (and pit area with walkways) for this weekend’s #NatCXTrophy round. Huge improvement on recent mudfests. Thanks to everyone involved. Hopefully we’ll see more of this at @BritishCycling #CycloCross races next season? pic.twitter.com/PM708dThRa— Mark Wilson ??? (@markwilsonit) January 16, 2022
- A selection of brushes (I use this Muc Off set) and rags.
- An inverter (to charge stuff using the car’s 12V power supply) – mine is a fairly low power model (150W) as higher wattage inverters need to connect to the car battery, rather than the 12V socket.
- (Solar powered) battery pack (and Shimano Di2 charger, for those using electronic gears).
- Spare bike… cyclo-cross is a muddy business and bike changes mid-race are expected, especially later in the season.
- Spare wheels (with different tyres/tread patterns).
- A collapsible trolley. Make sure you get a decent one… I bought cheap and bought twice – the first one only lasted a few weeks of being dragged across muddy fields before it became “permanently collapsed”. The replacement was this model, which seems to have got through two seasons now.
- Rollers (Elite or Tacx – there are plenty second hand on eBay, though you’ll probably have to collect them as they are awkward to post).
- Luggage (modular sports bags from Kit Brix are really good, though the zips can be cumbersome).
All in all, a pretty full boot…
Featured image by Owen Lake/Monument Cycling.