Cyclocross is a sect of cycling where you can get away with both highly specialized gear and cobbled together extra bits from your garage. No matter which camp you're in it's safe to bet you're a big fan of riding through a muddy obstacle course in a park somewhere or watching your friends do so with a cowbell in one hand and some frites or a beer in the other.
It's also a safe bet your significant other is probably struggling to come up with the perfect gift for their mud-loving CXer. Never fear, BikeRadar is here to drop some serious hints on what to get someone who loves knobby tires and drop bars.
Speedvagen Pit Boots
Most of the time ‘cross is a muddy affair for riders and spectators alike, and a solid pair of gumboots is a must.
Whether it be getting to the best spot for heckling, staying upright on your trip to the beer tent, working the pit, or even making your way in from the parking lot, your giftee will be much happier with dry, mud-free feet.
A solid set of gumboots will let you get knee deep in muck, and still keep your feet happy. Even better, post muddy 'cross race, you can hose them off — good as new.
This pair in particular comes from Sacha White and Vanilla Workshops, they are made in the USA, feature a soft semi-insulated interior and according to Speedvagen have a B.O.A (Bureau of Awesome) rating of 11.
- £TBC / $74.95 / AU$TBC
Dry Guy Travel Dry boot and shoe dryer
At a 'cross race, it's a safe bet your riding shoes are going to get wet, whether that be riding or when you spray them off with a hose before you get in the car.
Dry Guy makes a range of boot dryers, and are even the choice of the US ski team, but they work pretty darn well on cycling shoes, and gloves too. The brand makes a few models with various configurations of drying apparatus, but we like the Travel Dry Boot and Shoe Dryer.
It holds a pair of shoes or gloves and will have even the most saturated gear bone dry in about an hour.
- £32 / $27 / AU$TBC
Quite often an hour of good quality CXing will leave you and your bike looking like you’ve been swimming in a tar pit. While getting muddy is fun, you're going to want to do something about that mud before it dries, and short of there being a hose or non-frozen lake for you to take a dip in, you’re also going to want a portable shower/pressure washer like the Rinse Kit.
Holding up to two gallons / seven liters, the RinseKit delivers a pressurised stream of water with no pumping or power required. Simply fill it up using a spigot at home, chuck it in the car and you’re golden. There's even a hot water adaptor so you don’t have to clean mud out of your hair with freezing cold water.
- Price: £89.99 / $89.95 / AU$149
6" heavy duty cowbell
Cowbells and cyclocross go together like mac and cheese, and any self-respecting heckler should have a decent cowbell alongside their choice handups of rubber chickens and beer.
Cowbells come in all shapes and sizes but they all make a ruckus, and that's arguably the most important aspect of spectating a 'cross race.
We like this heavy-duty 6-inch noise maker because it can rattle around in the back of a car for months, have various heavy items put on top of it and still perform on race day.
- Price: £10.95 / $18.95 / AU$21.95
Tire pressure is often a hot topic of conversation in a CX race, and a few PSI can be the difference between nailing that off camber corner and coming unstuck.
The Fumpa is a small electric inflator with a digital pressure gauge claimed to be accurate to +/- three percent, quite a bit more accurate than the thumb test.
The pump head is convertible between Schrader and Presta valves and the company says the Fumpa will inflate a 23c tire to 100psi in roughly 25-seconds. It’s powered by a USB rechargeable battery and the boxy unit is claimed to weigh 380g and measure 32 x 56 x 68mm.
- Price: £TBC / $179 / AU$TBC
Horst toe spikes
Toe spikes can be the difference between making it up a steep run-up and picking mud out of your nose for the next week. For such a small upgrade they can make a massive difference on race day.
Horst is arguably the gold standard in this arena and this kit contains three sets of different sized stainless-steel toe spikes that will last a lifetime — not the lifetime of the shoes, the lifetime of the rider lucky enough to receive these studs. A matching wrench and a small tube of thread lock complete the set.
Horst doesn't offer international pricing, but will ship internationally.
- Price: £55 (approx) / $67.29 / AU$88
Feedback Sports Team Edition Tool Kit
There’s nothing worse than being the guy or gal in a ‘cross pit running around like a chicken with their head cut off looking for a tool to complete a last minute pre-race fix. From a noisy derailleur to a loose cleat there are no end to the issues that can reveal themselves pre race, so it’s important to be prepared.
Having said that, a full on tool box is likely to be overkill for a race day fix, so it’s important to find a happy medium of compact yet still prepared.
For that the Feedback Sports Team Edition Tool Kit seems to fit the bill, with 19 high-quality tools in a compact travel case, it can be hung from a workstand or fence.
Better still, there are slots in the case for extra tools which aren't included, like a torque wrench.
- Price: £200 / $249 / AU$399
Swiftwick Pursuit Merino socks
Tennessee-based Swiftwick claims to make the best socks you will ever wear — a big call, we know. The 7-inch Merino Pursuit socks, however, aren’t far off.
The Pursuit socks are made from all-natural Merino wool sourced from farmers in the US. Despite their weight, the wool takes the bite out of the chilly morning wind without adding bulk inside your shoe.
Available in a variety of heights and colours, the Pursuit socks offer a Merino toe and heel, compression cuff, seamless toe construction, and half-density weave joints — and they're pretty comfy.
Price: £TBC / $22 / AU$45
Castelli Sanremo Speedsuit
Skinsuits are usually reserved for time trials and criteriums, but they’re ideal for CX as well.
It’s not for aerodynamics, and it’s definitely not because they’re flattering to wear. Instead, it’s because the one-piece design won’t snag on your saddle during remounts, trees, stakes, or the ground when you inevitably crash.
The onesie also won’t ride up like a jersey often will and quite often they feature a slimmer chamois which makes skinsuits a bit easier to run in too. This Castelli suit also features an opening which makes it easier easy to put on and helps with ventilation and nature breaks a bit less awkward.
- Price: £220 / $249.99 / AU$TBC
The North Face Ventrix
Cyclocross is one of those sports where suffering is guaranteed and because CX season also takes place in the winter, it means you spend a lot of time standing around in the cold.
Worse, after an hour of riding and running through an obstacle course for bikes as fast as humanly possible, still drenched in sweat and shivering, there is nothing better than quickly getting into a warm jacket.
The North Face’s new Ventrix jacket is designed to dump heat and moisture through active insulation. This isn’t a totally new idea, Polartec’s Alpha insulation has been around for years, but TNF’s approach to venting is unique.
Basically, the jacket is covered in tiny laser perforations, that move with you to allow for air permeability, but remain closed when you’re idle.
The jacket gets a DWR coating for a bit of wet weather protection and 80g weight polyester for warmth.
- Price: £200 / $219 / AU$380
Mad Alchemy Embrocation
Embrocation is a bit mind-blowing the first time you use it. It's cold out and yet this greasy goop is keeping you comfortably warm and dry. There are lots of options out there, but our favourite is handcrafted in Broomfield, Colorado by Mad Alchemy.
All natural, Mad Alchemy’s range of embrocation is preservative-, cruelty-, perfume- and petroleum-free, with no animal testing or ingredients and almost vegan-friendly (it contains beeswax).
Coming in a range of heats and scents, the Russian Tea flavour is a real treat. Just remind your giftee to apply after putting on their shorts.
- Price: £15 / $19.99 / AU$34.95