How to cure – or avoid – the CX Hangover

Eight ways to enjoy cyclocross without feeling too rough after a weekend of racing

October 29th, 2019 by | Posted in Cyclocross, Health+Nutrition | Tags: ,

We’ve all been there. It’s the Monday after a particularly great weekend of racing cyclocross and you’re still exhausted, feeling foggy and sore in ways you shouldn’t be after riding a bike for 45-60 minutes.

Welcome to the CX Hangover.

Cross on the Rock
Cyclocross is a short, but intense effort. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

How is the CX Hangover different than normal post-race tiredness? Well, cyclocross is a bit more social than your average race. Most riders will do their own race, then hang around watching friends in other categories. This is part of what makes cross so great, but it adds an element of fatigue that is often not fully felt until the following day. Post-race beverages, poor recovery practices, and just standing around in chilly fall weather all day all add up.

The good news is you can avoid, or cure, the CX Hangover without hanging up your toe spikes. With a little effort you can race your heart out, and not feel terrible on Monday. Or at least not too terrible.

Here’s eight ways to avoid, or cure, the CX Hangover:

Diversify your nutrition

#Handupsarenotacrime (unless you’re in Ontario). Neither is a post-race beer to celebrate finishing a grueling mudder of a race. But if you do partake make sure you balance that out with fluids that are actually good for you. Whether that’s a smoothie, some kind of sports drink, or even just water. Hydration is key to recovery.

Western Speedway B.C. Cyclocross Provincial Championships Hung Mai
Scenic – and well hydrated – post race spectating at 2018 BC Cyclocross provincial championships. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

Take it easy on the post-race beers

Just because someone else is driving home from the venue doesn’t mean you should go hard after the race. Support your local brewery, and support the organizers that put in the effort to add the beer garden you asked for last year, but moderation is key.

Relax

Races are busy, they’re exciting, and there’s alot going on. Take 10 minutes during the day to actually sit down, and let your body wind down a little. Then get back out there and cheer on the next race and catch up with friends.

Try a cool down ride

This is something I’ve seen the fast people do after a race, so it is probably smart. Which makes sense, right? Stopping cold after a 60 minute all-out effort isn’t something you’d ever do, except at a cross race. Sure, you can still hang out and trade stories at the finish line. Just make sure you sneak off for a quick cool down ride at some point to kick-start your recovery.

Canadian cyclocross championships Peterborough
All the friends meet all the weather at PTBO Masters national championships in 2018.

Eat, and keep eating

Cross races may be short, but they are intense. You need to eat properly to recover. That starts right after the race – or after the pukey post-race feeling subsides – and continues throughout the evening. This seems basic, but ‘cross races can be busy. There’s other races to watch, a ton of people hanging around, and then the rush to pack everything up and get back home. It’s easy to forget to eat properly.

Recovery ride

If your race is Saturday, it’s not hard to do a nice easy ride on Sunday. This is trickier after Sunday race days. If you can squeeze in a short, easy spin or run before work on Monday, it will make a world of difference to how fast the CX Hangover goes away. Power and heart rate are great ways to gauge your effort, but if you want to keep it low-tech, spin really easy until your legs … don’t feel like garbage. Then gradually increase the pressure until you’re riding at a normal easy effort pace. Being careful not to overdo it and go too hard, of course.

Western Speedway B.C. Cyclocross Provincial Championships Hung Mai
Even when the sun shines, your kit could get muddy. Photo: Hung Mai Photography

Warm clothes

Weird, wet and often cold weather is part of the fun of cyclocross. Once the race is over, though make sure you get warm fast. This means getting out of that soaking wet spandex and into something warm and dry as soon as you can. At the very least, put a coat on over the skinsuit until you can find somewhere to change.

Do your laundry

This might not have much of a physiological benefit, sure. But there’s some mental gain to getting your muddy spandex clean as soon after a race as possible. Plus, it’s a good way to make your expensive kit last longer, and smell better. There’s nothing worse than digging into a bag of still-wet spandex that’s been cultivating for days.

Cross on the Rock Psycho-Cross COTR Cowichan
Yeah, probably going to feel that one tomorrow.