Sam Noel came to work for Bivo at the tail end of his professional cyclocross career. His skills on the bike are remarkable and we take great joy at watching him show them off for special Instagram posts or as we try to chase him up hills on a mid-week ride. Sam is humble, but DAMN, is he good. He raced 5 World Championships (2017-20, 2022), so his advice shouldn’t be taken lightly! He wrote an article below about his transition to racing ‘cross with bottles, a change the industry has seen but many riders have yet to adopt. Sam has certainly taken his work ethic from riding bikes into helping us build Bivo – we feel very lucky to have him on our team.
Racing 'Cross with a Bottle
by Sam Noel
The US cyclocross season has been kicking off these past few weekends. While we all know ‘cross is the most fun you can have on two wheels, the early season races can be brutally hot and dusty. Last season on my team, a hot topic at the start of these races was always whether to race with a bottle. I aways overlooked racing with a bottle. I had been under the impression that fueling during shorter races wasn’t as important. I was also cautious of adding weight to my bike and didn’t want the bottle in the way when I shouldered the bike. But, when I really thought about it, you aren’t forced to shoulder your bike during many of the races (especially in the beginning of the season). And if you must get off your bike, it’s just as easy to pick it up from the top tube. Last season was the first time I made a conscious effort to use a bottle in every race I could, even later into the fall and I did this for a couple of reasons:
First off, racing full gas for 45 to 60 minutes in the heat or cold will put your body through a lot of strain. Being able to fuel with a bottle throughout the race will leave you less depleted when the race is over. I never got super fancy with what I used and generally stuck to something heavy in electrolyte. But it set me up to feel better on Day 2 of racing and leave the race weekend needing less time to recover.
Secondly, there are a lot of things to over think on race day. Tire choice and pressure, warming up, pre riding the course, fueling, the list goes on. For me, racing with a bottle also allowed me to worry about one less thing on race day. I didn’t have to take frantic last-minute sips on the start line, plan how to get a bottle mid race in the pit or worry about staying cool during the race. In return, it alleviated some unnecessary stress from race day.
If you found this interesting, you should try throwing a bottle on your bike for some races, I always loved using a Bivo! Regardless, we wish everyone good luck racing ‘cross this fall and keep an eye out for us at the races!
While I told you to listen to Sam, he's not the only trustworthy source we have! The WTB team this year will be racing with bottles and Kim Coleman (center picture above) just got back from her first 'cross race in MA. Kim said, "...I chose to race the Beverly Gran Prix with an insulated Bivo on my bike because it was so hot and humid. I knew that having a little bit of cold Untapped Maple Aid would be advantageous. Cyclocross has really specific rules about where and under what conditions you can take outside aid, like water, so I carried my hydration with me. Many people are used to racing ‘cross in cold, often muddy, sometimes snowy conditions, so when we do have a hot race, I think a lot of us are not used to going full gas in the heat with no water. Just having the ability to drink something cold really provided me with a little extra perk during the race."