THERE IS A BIT OF A LEARNING CURVE for the newcomer to cyclocross. One new challenge is getting over barriers smoothly and quickly. So I decided to follow a teammate’s lead and build my own obstacles to practice on. In less than 20 minutes and for less than 20 bucks, I made portable, lightweight PVC-pipe barriers that assemble and disassemble quickly and fit easily in a backpack. To construct a pair of your own, read on.
Time: 30 minutes.
Cost: $20, including optional PVC cement and twine.
Difficulty: Easy, once you measure and mark.
Materials to buy:
- Three 10-foot-long pieces of PVC pipe ¾ inch in diameter. (This amount provides some leftover pipe, which I wanted to have on hand in case I ever needed to replace any barrier pieces. And it’s always good to have some extra PVC lying around.)
- Eight PVC ¾-inch slip caps.
- Four PVC ¾-inch slip elbows.
- Four PVC ¾-inch slip Ts.
- Two PVC ¾-inch slip couplings.
- One small can of PVC cement (optional).
- 14-foot-long piece of twine (optional).
Tools you need:
- Tape measure
Note: Official cyclocross barrier dimensions, according to the UCI, the governing body of world cycling, should be 40 centimeters (15.75 inches) high and 4 meters (13.1 feet) apart.
Step 1: Measure and mark the four horizontal tops. Using the tape measure and marker, measure 2½ feet from one end of a 10-foot-long piece of PVC and mark the spot; from that mark, measure another 2½ feet and mark the pipe again; do this one more time. When you’re done, the entire pipe should have four equally marked sections.
Step 2: Measure and mark the legs. Using another 10-foot pipe, measure and mark 12¾ inches from one end. From this point, repeat the process three times so that you have four sections of 12¾ inches each. (You’ll have extra pipe left over.)
Step 3: Measure and mark the feet. Using the third pipe, measure and mark 13 inches from one end. From this point, repeat the process three times so that you have four sections of 13 inches each. (You’ll have extra pipe left over.)
Step 4: Cut all the pieces. Using a hacksaw, precisely and evenly cut the pipe on the marked spots of all three pipes.
Step 5: Assemble all the pieces to make the barriers. Connect two of the horizontal pipes with a coupling; repeat with the other two horizontals. Then, using the elbows, connect the four 12¾-inch risers to the horizontals. Next, use the Ts to connect the risers and the feet. Finally, cap the feet.
Options: Apply PVC cement to the connections you want to stay together permanently so that you can save a little time when setting up and taking down. Follow the directions on the can to apply.
Another option is to cut a piece of twine about 14 feet long. Make loops with each end of the twine so that you have two loops using a total of 1 foot of twine for both. Then, when setting up your barriers, slip the left-side risers of both barriers through the loops before connecting them to the Ts. Separate the barriers so that the twine is fully extended but slightly slack so that it lies on the ground and out of the way. You will have the regulation distance of 4 meters (about 13.1 feet) without having to walk 13 paces each time you use your barriers.
That’s it. All that’s left is to practice: