Cxworlds Lance
Training Tips

Nutritional Tips for Cyclocross Racers

By: Marc Gullickson  November 11, 2019

USA Cycling’s High Performance Mountain Bike Coach, Marc Gullickson, got his start racing cyclocross and made his way to the elite ranks. Gullickson offers some nutrition tips to help you race your best Cyclocross season yet!

Cyclocross is a high intensity race. Riders compete on a closed circuit in a park, or other open land, and must complete multiple laps in a short duration (between 35 min and 1 hr). On top of that, CX season goes from October to January with adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, and wind.

Proper nutrition is the key to success, but that can be challenging. An unhealthy or large meal leaves you feeling heavy and sluggish during a race. With too little food, you may find yourself walking those run-ups and struggling just to finish a 30 minute effort. Proper hydration also plays a key role in CX racing as it’s quite challenging to eat or drink during the event.


Your pre-race breakfast should consist of foods that are easy to digest, but provide necessary nutritional components for a successful race. Complex carbohydrates with a small amount of protein will help the digestive system.

Here are some good breakfast options for you:

  • Warm oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts
  • Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts
  • Eggs and whole grain toast

Also, remember to hydrate! Keep sipping on an electrolyte drink throughout the morning. Practicing the breakfast/pre-race routine during training will also ensure that it works on race day.


On the way to the race, sip from a water bottle to maintain hydration and upon arrival continue the hydration process. When warming up or pre-riding the race course, bring a bottle, and continue hydrating. Try to wrap up the warm-up 15-20 minutes before the start and take in a caffeinated or non-caffeinated gel or chew for extra energy. If there is a support staff member, have them bring a bottle to the start line for one last drink before the start.


Once the race is finished, have a bottle of water or electrolyte mixture to help with rehydration and dry mouth. Within 15 minutes, consume a post-recovery protein shake to help speed up the recovery process.

Here’s our favorite recipe:

  • 1 5.3oz container of non-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 scoops of protein powder
  • 1 cup of mixed fruit 1 cup of water (or almond milk)
  • For additional protein, add 1tbsp. of almond butter

It is common to experience some intestinal discomfort after an intense effort so eating solid food is normally not an option and a protein shake is just easier to digest. If the weather is really bad, it also helps to have a thermos of hot water or herbal tea to warm up the core post-race.

Within an hour or so of having a proper recovery drink and cool down ride, your digestive system will have settled down and it’ll be time for solid food and one of those ice cold beers that pairs so well with cyclocross racing!