The cyclocross season is in full swing, which means the mercury is plunging while the racing is heating up. Unfortunately, the heated competition alone won’t keep you warm, so it’s best to know some tricks of the trade for warming up and staying warm during these cold late season racing months.

With the state, regional and national races running from late November through December into January, the environment can be varied depending on weather patterns and geographic locations. The national race in January has been held in various venues from Iowa to Texas, with this year’s race being held in Connecticut, so being prepared when race day is cold is just as important as the training regime leading up to it.

Here are a few pointers, which will help limit cold weather variables, which can heavily impact your performance:

Warm Up Routine

It’s very hard to get a proper warm up outside in cold weather, especially when it’s less than 40 degrees, so utilizing a stationary trainer is your best bet. Try to set it up in an enclosed area if possible. It will be much faster to get the muscles going on a trainer, than out in the elements, especially if the weather’s not cooperating with rain, sleet, snow or wind. However, some will say this is perfect weather for cyclocross.

After the trainer is set up, start by previewing the course by riding a few laps, noting any tricky sections to think about how to attack them come race time. Then, jump on the trainer for a minimum of 20 minutes with some bursts of speed to wake up your legs and system. Make sure you wish your warm up with enough time to change kits and head to the staging area just prior to your race.

Clothing Selection

When choosing your outfit, it is best to focus on both core and extremity warmth. Keeping your torso warm will help to get warm blood out to your ngers and toes, and an extra layer here is even better than an extra layer on your hands or feet.

For your warm up, bring two kits: one for warming up and then one to change into after before you hit the start line. This will ensure you won’t line up and wait for the start of the race in wet clothes, negating all the good preparation you just performed. Leave on an easily removable jacket with a spare set of gloves while waiting on the line. You can take these off and hand them to a teammate before the gun goes off to further help limit your muscles from cooling down.

Shoe covers designed to not interfere with the cleats on the bottom of your shoes are also a great investment. These can be modified from an existing pair or purchased specifically for cyclocross.

Other Tricks

Even if you are wearing tights or leggings, use cold weather (warming) embrocation to rub onto your legs just before you start your warm up on the trainer. This promotes blood flow in your legs and allows water to bead off of them in wet conditions.

Traction is very important, especially when the ground is frozen. To help with traction in cold weather, spray the bottoms of your shoes with standard kitchen pam spray. This combats snow/ice and dirt from clinging and freezing to bottoms of your shoes during the dismount running sections.

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Bryan’s athletic career started as a member of his middle school’s state winning cross country team, he was hooked on endurance sports. Competing in cross country, indoor and outdoor track for 10 years, his running culminated with three years of division one racing at Virginia Tech. He then switched from running to road cycling in 2007 and was key in his team’s successful pursuit of the ACC championship. After graduating college in 2008 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, he further cut his teeth racing in Belgium before returning to race the Pro/Am Domestic circuit, traveling the US for another 6 years. As a contributing member and cycling correspondent of Chicago Athlete since the summer of 2014, Bryan has also recently been concentrating on his artistic and commercial photography practices in Chicago and beyond.


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