I had my first fully mud race of the year this weekend and literally came dead last!
I normally place pretty well as one of the few single-bike (no pit crew) racers.
This weekends conditions were particularly sticky mud as it rained earlier in the day and started drying throughout the day’s racing. (Seniors being last race of the day for full CX conditions)
Photo below is my bike post sighting lap. During the race I managed about 1.5 laps before complete blockage of wheels and fully clogged tyres.
Anyone face this and have advice on getting the best as a solo rider?
Other single-bike riders didn’t seem to face the same fate as me so hoping there’s some learning in this.
Things I’m considering:
- Removal of front chain catcher as it collected a lot of filth.
- Silicone spray or veg oil on the frame for anti-stick properties.
Other forums were recommending single speed for these conditions, but I don’t think I can pass another n+1 at the moment…
At some point, there is really nothing you can do. I just went through this a few weekends ago. Guys were changing bikes every half lap and it puts you at a serious disadvantage. I love racing in the mud, but having what amounts to a cheat code for those with extra bikes completely ruins the spirit of the sport for me. It’s something that I feel like should change in CX to make it more accessible.
What’s worse, I tried to buy another bike to double as a pit bike and literally no one has stock lol.
Exactly the same on this occasion; I was gaining on a few riders but lap two pits saw them disappear never to be seen again!
Ditto on the stock issues, my other fear was ripping off my mech and ending the season because of it!
We had a similar race this weekend…bikes were a mess (worse than yours). I have a pit bike but its on my trainer right now and takes a little time to set up and just did not think the conditions would be that bad…man was i wrong. I ended up flatting 3rd lap and was actually stoked, went back to my car, got kind’ve clean and hung out and drank beer at my team tent.
Somehow the fast guys kept it clean-ish and i think the key (in addition to what you have up there) is they knew the course well and ran it in the bad sectors and were fast in the ridable sections (flicking mud off). The fast guys did have pit bike but no crew to spray off their bikes so they did not pit right away and just did a 50/50 split. Other banter was to loose the cage and bottle. One guy brought a tire scraper similar to what you see at gravel races. I also greased up prior with PR lotion and it seemed to help a bit in not collecting mud on the skin anyway. I hear ya though, i normally like bad conditions like that but this was a whole new level of bad and crushed me a bit even though it turned out ok (if flatting is that)
One thing you can do is run the boggy sections to reduce the clogging. Whilst running you can clear the grass and mud that jams up the back wheel at the bottom bracket.
Next is the cleaning of mud off the sidewalls of the front wheel when you can ride an easier section. Arch you index and middle fingers over the front wheel for few seconds, better with gloves on.
I’d also suggest that you clean the bike as much as you can after the pre ride and then warm up on a road or on rollers.
If all else fails, stopping to clear clogging mud will save you time and energy than running a slow laden bike. Good luck.
BTW, there were quite a few used canti cx bikes for sale in our local league, great as a pit bike.
I’m in the same situation sometimes, so think about this quite frequently. Not saying that that helps much…
I’d deffo get rid of the chain catcher! Anything that collects extra mud, get rid. (Also I always think they make it very hard to put the chain back on if it comes off somehow, or they might make it more likely for the chain to jam and break the rear mech, so don’t have one anyway)
Other things - don’t do a pre-race lap, just do a track walk and watch others. If you do pre-ride, clean the bike, especially the drivetrain, before the start.
As above - run a lot of boggy bits. Put the bike on your shoulder when you do, and don’t push it on the ground.
Ride through all the puddles you can find.
I can never being myself to stop and de-clogg the bike, but I think it might actually save you time to do it before the chain comes off, if it’s really bad.
Also supposedly staying in the ruts and on the racing line (as opposed to going for the bit of grass for extra grip) might mean less grass and leaves that can get on the bike.
More radical ones…smaller tyres (30s instead of 33s) for more mud clearance, if that’s a problem with the frame.
Lately…pick your races. I love racing in the mud, but maybe you’re better off marshalling a very muddy one than having a frustrating race and DNF.
All easier said than done!