Posted by: cdmmtb | March 21, 2012

Planning and Preparation – The Key to Keyesville

Some of the sweet singletrack of the Keyesville Classic. Photo courtesy of Stephen Messer.

Race #3 is just around the corner.  Spring has officially sprung, but Mother Nature might not consult her calendar in time to adjust the weather dial for Sunday’s race.

Having your body and your bike prepared for racing in the cold and wet could save your race and/or help you gain a few spots over lesser prepared competitors.


First and foremost, prepare yourself by having the following apparel items with you. You may not use them all but having them packed in a separate bag ensures you’ll have them if you need them.

Remember, NO COTTON!  Smartwool stuff is truly amazing, a bit more expensive but lasts forever and works the best.

1. Arm warmers  

2. Knee warmers

3. Lightweight, breathable but water-resistant jacket

4. Water resistant winter gloves – not so thick that braking and shifting is impeded

5. Neoprene socks or thin plastic bags for wrapping your feet before putting bike shoes on

6. Earband or thin skullcap to fit under helmet

7. Thin base layer shirt to wear under your jersey -such as a Smartwool or UnderArmor shirt

8. Warm dry clothes and towels for post-race clean-up

9.  Clear lenses for your sunglasses and anti-fog treatment (available at REI)

If there is any amount of rain in the area, there will be water crossings on the course – there were last year and shoes will get wet if not soaked.


Tires – most tires that come with bikes these days are great all-around designs that are adequate in sloppy conditions. If your bike has a semi-knobby or very low profile knob, I recommend changing at least the front tire to something beefier, such as a Specialized Captain, Ground Control or Purgatory.

Drivetrain – make sure your chain, chainrings and derailleur pulleys are clean and properly lubed before heading up to the race. No matter how you prepare, if it rains your drivetrain will cake with grit and mud and may cause  shifting problems, but at least you’ll start with the best possible foundation.  I recommend a medium weight lube, not wax based, but not synthetic either, as the cleanup is a nightmare.

Front fender – this is strictly optional and maybe overkill, but again if it’s raining or sloppy, a front fender can really save your eyesight and keep you a bit drier to boot.

You can fashion a cheap and simple downtube-mounted fender using a 2 litre soda bottle cut into a large curved piece zip-tied onto the downtube behind the front tire.


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