The morning of a race can be hectic. Between trying to eat a descent breakfast, gathering up gear, loading the bikes, and trying to get to the venue on time, it’s often easy to overlook important details.
I get everything organized the night prior and I find having a packing list can help speed up the process and ensure I’m not left on race day without the necessities.
Because cross season starts in September and ends in December, the amount of of gear required for different conditions can seem overwhelming. In reality, there are only a few things you absolutely need: A bike, a helmet, something to wear, and shoes. The rest are all creature comforts, but nice to have. If it’s your first race, don’t panic. Pack the aforementioned items and you will have a blast.
I would say I hardly use half of what I pack, but for me it’s better to have it and not use it, than to wish it was in my bag. In addition to my bikes,this is what I pack for a race:
Warm Up Gear
I usually pack an extra kit in which to warm up. If the weather is good, I’ll often warm up in my race kit, but if it is nasty out, having something dry to change into is nice.
- Base layer
- Jersey – short sleeve and long sleeve
- Arm/knee/leg warmers
- Rain pants – Cycling specific ones that I put over my shorts if wet out
- Rain jacket
- Cap/toque/something warm to wear under my helmet
- Shoe covers – unless it’s dry out I almost always warm up with shoe covers on
If it’s rainy out, getting changed after warm up should be a priority. Don’t hang around in wet gear getting cold before your race. I tend to run pretty warm when racing, so I like to keep what I wear to a minimum. Unless it is absolutely freezing, I wear a base layer, gloves, and a short sleeve skinsuit. If it’s rainy I wear a cap and if the temperature dips too much, I’ll throw on arm warmers. Everyone is different, so figure out what works best for you. Here’s what goes in for my race gear:
- Skinsuit – or whatever you race in
- Base layer – if possible a dry one that wasn’t used in warm up
- Arm warmers – I hate wearing them but they are good to have just in case
- Socks – a couple pairs — wool is best
- Gloves – long finger. I love Castelli CW 6.0 CX gloves
- Shoes – I only own one pair, hence the shoe covers during warm up
- Glasses – I like clear lenses or the yellow/orange tinted ones
- Cycling cap/toque
I’m probably the worst person to take advice from on proper nutrition and fuelling, but here are my staples:
- Energy bars – I usually go with Clif Bars out of habit
- Cooked plain pasta – I find it easy to eat before and after a race
- Water bottles – multiple if there is no available water at the race
- Electrolyte tabs – drop in your water and hydrate
- Cold beer – if it is really nasty this may get moved from post race to pre race
- Cash – a nice post race food truck meal (if available) might taste like the best thing you have ever eaten
- Cowbell – bring it. use it. love it.
- Garmin/heart rate monitor – I love data
- Garbage bag – to hold wet/dirty gear
- Towel or sarong – for drying off and changing. 2 is nice if there is mud
- Headphones & ipod/phone/walkman – warm up music
- Race license – don’t get caught paying for a ‘day of’ when you don’t need to
- Toe spikes – if it’s muddy they can be a life saver on run ups
- Series number/ timing chips if applicable
- Trainer – Course warmup is essential, but a trainer is sometimes nice
- Camera – I like to take photos at races
- Camp chair – if you managed to drag someone out to watch you, you better have somewhere for them to sit
- Embrocation – if it’s cold enough
- Chamois cream – ’nuff said
It’s good to have a few basic tools at your disposal for last minute maintenance.
- Floor Pump
- Chain lube
- Allen wrenches
- Crescent wrench
- Multi tool
- Electrical tape
- Pit bike/wheels – if you have them
- Digital pressure guage
If it’s going to be a rainy or muddy day, I throw in a few essentials
- Rubber boots
- Rain pants – the type that I can put over my jeans
- Rain jacket
- Sandals/alternate shoes
Whew! The list may seem excessive but it covers everything I may need. When it comes time to pack, I run through the list and nothing is forgotten. Even if I only end up using those four essentials, I take comfort in knowing that I’m at least prepared.
Do you have any essentials that you need for race day?