Cross Season is Upon Us

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Cycle Cross - Bicycle Parts Direct

By Dave Batka – Founder of Wheels Manufacturing

Cross season is upon us.  What’s going to happen to my bike when I ride it around in the muck?

To me Cross season means the best time of year is here. Fall! Yes, Cross season starts too early. Cross is meant to be done at the end of a long riding season, in the cool fall air, as a prelude to drinking too much beer and eating too many carbs during the winter months. It’s cyclists’ way of getting the last of the competition out of our legs before letting the hair grow for a bit. Most folks are in shape this time of year so jumping on and off a bike as you go around a muddy obstacle course sounds just fine. Just for an hour or so while all our pals laugh at the muck we get in from head to toe.

Here in Colorado cross season can be bone dry and 95 degrees or it can be 37 degrees with a bit of frozen snow soon to turn into cold muck, once it warms up a bit. Towards either coast all bets are off as to what conditions will be but usually borders on “friggin awful”. Not sure why Portland is such a hotbed of cross.

What do you need to ride a bit of cross? “Back in the day” we all took an old road bike and bolted on some canti brakes, some kind of goofy tire, and sandwiched a couple of old chainrings together to make a “single” out of a double chainring. Don’t forget to mow down the teeth or you end up with scars like I got on my lower legs. Now that I’m right smack in middle age those scars are getting uglier by the day and I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate the mess into some tat sequence on my shins.

Really though Cross has become high tech with lots of cool equipment and nice bikes riding around. The good news is you no longer put your cross bike away any longer. It’s now your “gravel bike” and should be kept out to ride on gravel, road, and to the store, all year round.

Here’s my list of most everything you need for a Saturday at the local cross race.

  • A bike. Please leave the blinky lights at home….You don’t need those for anything out there.
  • Maybe some shoes and a kit to wear. Don’t bring anything too nice as it just gets trashed when you fly through the mud or just plain fall off.
  • A support group to jeer at you and help you drink all the beer.
  • 4. A bunch of extra rear derailleur hangers and a willingness to fix your bike after EVERY race.

Cross is tough on parts. Make sure you have an extra derailleur hanger, preferably right at hand. I keep mine on a key ring with the keys to the beer cooler. They fly off bikes at cross races . When you are done racing you’ve got to clean that mud off or it turns into cement and that isn’t good. Leave your big bearing maintenance items to after cross season but do make sure you don’t put your bike away without doing the work, or you will be very unhappy comes spring and stuff won’t even turn!

Derailleur Hangers

Anybody got any Tat ideas for my ugly legs?

I’d love to hear from you with your comments at