The Endura Academy on Cyclocross Clothing
CX expert and XC legend Oli Beckingsale solves the all-important question: what to wear for CX?
It’s muddy, it’s cold – it’s cyclocross season! Cyclocross has seen a massive upsurge in global popularity over recent years and there are a large number of cross bikes regularly seen in the hallways at Endura’s Scotland HQ. It’s a diverse mix with riders ranging from die-hard CX racers heading off to events round the country every weekend, to the more relaxed newbies who use cross bikes to make the most of the Glasgow-Edinburgh canal towpath and local woods. Lunchbreak banter often includes enthusiastic tales of last weekend’s CX races and the horrendous/ wet/ stormy and inevitably very muddy conditions. Often overheard is talk about the latest bikes, kit, and gadgets. For newcomers to this Autumn/Winter discipline of cycling, the question is not only what bike you need and what skills you should learn, but also what to wear.
Endura spoke to CX expert and XC legend Oli Beckingsale, winner of the 2012/2013 British Cycling National Cross Country Series and 2012/2013 National Trophy Cyclocross Series. Oli Beckingsale has been racing in Endura apparel for years and knows the collection inside out – apart from putting the kit through the grinder and giving invaluable feedback, he was actively involved in the development of the Endura MTR range. So, he’s THE man to talk about racing kit.
Endura met with Oli in Bristol this Autumn, where he explained all the kit needed for cyclocross racing. Since the CX season runs from October through to January, you’ll have massive differences in temperature and weather in that period. The kit that Oli discusses here is appropriate for an average, slightly chilly National Trophy race day in roughly 6-8 degrees Celsius.
1. The Practice Outfit
At a normal CX race you get to the venue on the day, do a few laps of practice on the course, then go back to your vehicle. In Oli’s experience, the gap between the practice session and the warm- up prior to the start of the race itself, gives you a bit of time to “chill and have a bit of food”. Oli advises: “You want to do your practice in full training kit and then have a change before you start warming up in your race kit. Avoid sitting around in cold conditions and sweaty clothes.”
For the practice, Oli puts on the Endura Windchill Biblongs. With a windproof front for extra coverage to keep his muscles warm, he won’t put in a huge amount of effort, just check out his lines and the course.
Even though he won’t work too hard at this stage, he wears a high wicking Fishnet Baselayer underneath an insulating Roubaix Jacket, as it is “a really important thing wicking that sweat away – I’m still gonna sweat while I’m practicing.”
He always carries a lightweight waterproof MTR Emergency Shell Jacket with him during practice, which, apart from protecting him from rain, will also take the edge off the wind.
“Coming to your head” Oli continues, “you’ve obviously got your helmet on, but also something underneath, normally a road cap, but if it’s 2 or 3 degrees colder, I might have something a little bit warmer underneath”, like a Thermolite Skull Cap.
As for gloves, he usually takes a selection of gloves to a Cyclocross race, from the Windchill Gloves for practicing in average conditions and neoprene FS260-Pro Nemo Gloves for rainy cold days, to the MTR Gloves with light protection for racing. Two pairs of shoes are a good idea, one pair for practicing, the other pair for racing. If it’s really bad weather, neoprene overshoes will keep your feet both warm and dry.
Cycling glasses will protect your eyes from mud, rain, and cold drafts during practice and while racing. The Guppy glasses with their three lens set of high definition, low distortion polycarbonate lenses have been developed specifically for foul weather and dirt riding. Critically, the clear lens set not only has the anti-fog finish on the inner face but also feature a full blown superhydrophobic finish on the outside that sheds water and muck like magic, massively improving visibility.
2. The Warm-Up Outfit
“You want a couple of items that you can warm up in, go to the start line, and then ditch”, says Oli. The most important items to mention here are a jacket and leg warmers that you can get off really quick. The Thermolite Full Zip Leg Warmers feature a full zip so you can take them off in record time without having to remove your shoes.
3. The Race Outfit
“Cyclocross is pretty intensive”, explains Oli, “so you are going to sweat. Even if it is freezing cold, you are still gonna be working pretty hard, plus you’re out there 45 to 60min.” So Oli’s racing outfit consists of a baselayer, top, bibshorts, and potentially arm warmers on a really cold day.
In terms of gloves, they vary massively according to temperature. On a warm day track mitts can be sufficient, while on a slightly chilly day a full-finger MTB-style glove like the MTR Glove is a good choice.
Oli personally prefers MTB-style gloves for their off-road feel and the little bit of protection that they give. For colder weather he recommends the Windchill Glove, and for freezing, wet weather you “got to go for Neoprene!”
4. Podium Outfit
As soon as you finish, get the jacket and leg warmers that you took off at the start and put them back on to keep you warm and to aid in quick recovery. Oli says: “After the race, the most important thing for you is to get some kit on, as you’re gonna freeze really quickly. You will cool out quickest through your head so put a hat or cap back on. Once you’ve got into some warm kit, It’s time to head off to the podium!”
￼￼￼Oli Beckingsale retired in 2013 after 16 years as a professional cyclist, his career highlights include three Olympic Games, a Commonwealth Silver medal, five National Senior Champ Titles and two Top 10 World Champ Finishes. These days he focuses on his business BW Cycling (bwcycling.co.uk), where a big part of his job is coaching other cyclists.
Coming soon: the Endura Academy – Oli Beckingsale’s training tips to help you improve your ‘cross skills.
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