Based on the current weather patterns, it doesn't look like we will be blessed with the same weather we were last year for the kick off to the Chicago Cyclocross Cup series at Jackson Park. With the hurricanes rolling in off of the ocean down south, the weather pattern seems to be stuck on repeat. And all of the record setting rain can only mean one thing MUD.
For those of you who don't already own a set of mud tires might I suggest you pay a visit to your friendly local bike shop and pick up a pair. You may have just enough time to learn how to use them effectively before Sunday.
There is only one good way to learn how to race in the mud, and that is to train in the mud. Very small deficiencies in technique can become amplified when racing in bad conditions. Using your front brake in the corners becomes a very bad idea, subtle weight shifts and trusting that your tires will work takes a lot of practice, but the time saved in each corner can be the difference between sprinting out of every corner or simply carrying your speed through it. If you do have to brake when entering a corner, make sure you do so before getting there. Almost any amount of front wheel braking in a wet corner will cause the wheel to wash out. Instead, brake before you get to the corner, lean the bike, weight the outside pedal, then accelerate out of the corner. Following this technique will almost surely keep you upright and in the race.
Learn to love the mud and inclement weather. There is nothing more to fear about bad conditions than there is about good conditions. In fact, if you have the attitude that you can race better in the bad weather, you just may be able to capitalize on someone else's fears. And besides, the way this weather has been lately, we may be seeing our share of sloppy courses!