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The Joy of Cyclocross

Posted on October 21 2016

As a late entrant into racing (39) I tried mountain biking and road racing which I enjoyed but it was Cyclocross that really drew me in. I love the close fought racing, the league and the points you earn, the soft landings when you fall and the laughter afterwards as we recount our mishaps.

As someone that keeps the boxes and packaging of everything I've ever bought, love to clean my bikes just as much as I do riding them it seemed odd to many that a sport which is so demanding on bike and rider is the sport I compete in most.

Yes the training is hard, the racing harder and you guessed it, the bike cleaning is even harder. Nothing is easy with cross.

To commit to racing Cyclocross is also to commit to rigorous and relentless bike cleaning. My sons race too and between us we have six cross bikes. We ride three times a week and the season is three months long. Add in muddy races and 1 lap bike changes and that means a potential of 216 bike cleans in the season. But dont let that put you off. Here are my tips:

Before the race, a quick once over if there's time:

1. Take a jet wash, water and bucket (sponge, washing up brush, toothbrush, Fairy...)

2. Give the bike a quick clean down post warm up, pre race.

3. If there's little time, while rotating the crank backwards allow the end of a small screwdriver to collect grass and mud off the jockey wheels of the rear derailleur

4. Then clear and wipe down tight spots between wheels and frame

5. If its a wet race, spray the bike down with a water repellent spray such GT85 

6. Remember to check the pedals and shoe cleats are clear of sticks, stones and mud

After the race:

1. With whats left of your water clean your cycling shoes, helmets and muddy clothing and gloves, drain and put in a black bin liner. Stuff newspaper in to your shoes and helmet.

2. As soon as you arrive home, change into dry clothes, make a cup of tea, put some tunes on and then get to work cleaning your bikes. Do it now before the corrosion sets in.

3. Start with the drivetrain. You should spent about 15 minutes on the drivetrain per bike clearing the mud, degreasing it (chain degreaser), I then use a kitchen sink brush and some Fairy washing up liquid to really get that chain gleaming. Keep rinsing thoroughly with water from a hose.

4, Then get to work cleaning the rest of the bike as you normally would. Let each bike drip dry why you clean the next.

5. Now this is where you need to get rid of every last drop of water, but at the same time you need to be careful not to remove grease or damage bearings. I use an air compressor purchased from Machine Mart. It really is worth it. Clean all the water out of the chain, any recesses.

6. You're almost there. Once the bike is dry you can use one of many post wash frame dressings. These guys are new and worth checking out - Crankalicious 

7. Post wash and post drying I know a professional bicycle mechanic to a Cyclocross Global star that uses WD40 on the chain if you're not racing or riding for the next few days, claiming that the longer you leave oil on the chain, the less effective it will be. If you reach straight for the chain oil remember your oiling the little rotating rings in the centre of the chain and not the entire metal area. Turn the crank around at least twice while dripping a constant feed of oil in to the chain. The first and last chain oil I reach for is Finish Line's Wet Lube. It's perfect for every riding condition - 

8. Lastly, if you can leave the bikes in a warm place to completely dry off then great - maybe wait until Poldark comes on in the sitting room, then quietly roll the cyclocross fleet in to the kitchen for the night?!

For more information on cyclocross and to try racing go to British Cycling and search the calendar - there will be a race near you!

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