Why using a watch is essential to cyclocross

Clara and Zoe share how to use the Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL sports watch

February 1, 2023

When you’re covered in mud with a lap to go and there’s a rider hot on your tail as you rush to the pits to change your bike, the last thing on your mind is switching out your cycling computer. The solution? Wear a watch.

“​It's great to see the data to get an idea of what you went through in a cyclocross race but cycling computers don't really work for the sport,” says Clara Honsinger, current back-to-back US national cyclocross champion. “You might have to switch out your bike but I also like to have as little as possible on my bike. Having a head unit out front is a little bit risky in terms of getting caught on the course tape or maybe you get caught in a crash and the head unit snaps off and now you lose your computer unfortunately. This is where the watch comes in super handy because I’m able to have something on my wrist which means I’m able to record what happens.”

Clara and her teammate Zoe Bäckstedt, the junior women’s cyclocross world champion, have been wearing the Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL at cyclocross races across the US and Europe this season.

Zoe has only recently started to use a watch for ‘cross season and she’s hooked. The ELEMNT RIVAL makes it easy for her to transition from warming up to racing without giving it a second thought and not having to worry about losing any data.

“​​I have a page that just says the time and the distance and that’s all I see when I’m racing,” Zoe says. “Then on another page, I have heart rate and power and things like that if I need it for doing a warm up or something. The ELEMNT RIVAL makes it easy to adjust the data you have on each page.”

The ELEMNT RIVAL is capable of everything that Zoe would otherwise use her ELEMNT bike computer for so she isn’t sacrificing anything by using her watch.

Both Zoe and Clara appreciate how comfortable the watch is and how well it fits without being a distraction.

“It fits pretty cleanly on my wrist,” says Clara. “Honestly I don’t notice it when I’m doing cyclocross. The band is broad enough that it manages to stay on my wrist without slipping around.”

“Most of the time in a race I forget that I’ve even put it on,” Zoe says. “It’s only when I see myself on the big screen that I notice it and I think, ‘Oh yeah, I can check the time.’ When you’re racing it’s simple to flick your wrist and look.”

For Clara, the ELEMNT RIVAL is useful beyond just racing bikes.

“The watch is also nice for all the other things we do in training. I use it when I go for a run and also for strength workouts. It’s helpful not only to set the time for a workout but I also like to use it if I’m doing planks or something like that to keep track of how long I’ve been doing it,” she says.

Whether it’s riding, hitting the gym, or running, the ELEMNT RIVAL syncs quickly and easily with the SYSTM Training app. Training for cyclocross is not just done on the bike. The RIVAL can track strength training and other workouts done using the SYSTM Training app.

“I just end my ride and by the time I’ve gone back to the bus and I’m on the trainer to cool down, it’s already uploaded,” Zoe says.

Clara agrees. “The Wahoo ELEMNT app connects with all of the computers. It’s super easy."

With the data uploaded, Clara and Zoe can then discuss it with their coaches and look for patterns or see when they’ve had a new achievement.

Recently, Clara noticed her ELEMNT RIVAL captured one of her highest heart rates of the season.

“At Beekse Bergen my heart rate was the highest going into the finishing straight,” she says. “I was trying to hold off Sanne Cant in a sprint and just looking at it after, I was like, ok if my heart rate was that high in the last minute, then I really went all out.”

This weekend, Clara and Zoe head to Hoogerheide, Netherlands to race the world championships. Zoe will race the team relay on February 3 and the women's under-23 race on February 5. Clara will compete in the women's elite race on February 4. Both have raced a strong 'cross season this winter and this weekend promises to be an exciting event.

How to watch: In Europe, GCN+ and Eurosport Player will livestream the races on Saturday and Sunday. In North America, tune into Flobikes.

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