A Weekend of Iowa City Cyclocross
So far the weather this weekend looks perfect for racing. "We have had so many fun years of racing, both really dry and really really wet as some people may recall. This year we are looking like it will be one of those dryer race days with a great fall forecast."
Day-of registration is available for both City Park Cyclocross and Bobbers Cross. $10 cheaper and easier for everyone is pre-registration open now at BikeReg.com.
Capital City Cross was one of the first cyclocross races in Iowa. Now the progeny of BIKEIOWA Racing Team and located in Stone Park in Des Moines, the race has been around forever. And yet its organizers aren't satisfied doing the same old. In fact, this year Capital City Cross will feature two days of racing with four different events at two separate venues.
"Much of the thought behind "unsanctioned Sunday" was because Iowa does not have many USA Cycling officials these days," said BIKEIOWA's Scott Sumpter. "So we'll officiate Sunday on our own, plus the fun aspect of RELAYCROSS will bring a lot more folks to the event."
The collaboration with Midstate is, in part, down to the shortage of officials, and in part down to the lack of a firm venue for a separate Midstate weekend. "We all believe that a few quality races can supersede quantity (weekly races with smaller turnouts).
Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!
So what the heck is short track CX? "An unsanctioned mini-cyclocross course, similar to the first Night Cap Cross. It actually happens at the same venue (Mullets). The course will be short and tight and hopefully flowy and fast with some unique features."
Is he talking about gravel? "Yes, everyone is a 'gravel racer' these days... the hype is unreal, yet very real... Gravel pretty much goes year 'round now and its entry point is even easier than CX, which I touted for years as the entry point to competitive cycling."
Is Iowa cyclocross hurting for lack of Jingle Cross? "I don't think the absence will affect us much going forward. Trek Cup is fulfilling for the folks who need to attend/race an event like Jingle Cross. So many locals weren't racing Jingle Cross since the competition was so fierce. Plus it really messed with the local race schedule when it moved to September versus 'Jingle' weather."
Thanks, Scott! We'll see you in Des Moines!
So, for those of us competitive or compulsive enough to shudder when reading "no Midstate Cross the weekend after," what are our options that first weekend in October? For Eastern Iowa folks there are options both days in Illinois and Wisconsin. Personally, I can highly recommend Badger Prairie Cross in Verona (Madison), Wisconsin Saturday October 1, and Schiller Woods CX in Chicago Sunday October 2.
Badger Prairie Cross was twice the venue for USAC Cyclocross Nationals, and it didn't disappoint. Schiller Woods is a first time venue, true, but it's also the first race in the Chicago Cross Cup, filling in for our beloved Caldwell Woods (which is under construction). ChiCrossCup races are big, welcoming, and fun, so you can't go wrong. Better yet, make a weekend of it and do both -- the two are only a couple hours drive apart.
Iowa Cyclocross gets Twisted
Tondro Pray Bike Park in Cedar Falls is a flat, sprawling 20-acre flood plain repurposed after the 2008 floods as a park for BMX bicycling, cyclocross, and mountain biking. The pump track and MTB skills areas see plenty of action, but the park on the whole is usually a relatively quiet spot nestled just north of the Cedar River.
But not next weekend.
September 17 & 18 Tondro Pray will host the seventh edition of Twisted Cross, the first weekend of racing in Iowa's 2022 cyclocross season.
Over the years Twisted Cross has been in September, November, and October. It's been nice weather more often than not, but it's also been flooded (almost cancelled) and snowed on. But it has always been a good time. This year Twisted Cross promises more of the same.
Twisted Cross has a long history of spoiling racers with free food and drink. This year? "Yep!" says Kimberly Breuer of Cedar Valley Cyclists. "We'll have Single Speed beer, Verve Kombucha, pizza from the Other Place, Fat Cup Coffee."
Pretty amazing, but that's not all. "Raffle prizes from Maple Lanes, Fit Gym, KJ and Kompany, Ninja U, Prairie Yogi Massage, Hansen's Dairy, and Transcend Mind-Body Wellness & Floatation Clinic. Hall Bicycle is providing on-site mechanical support. And historic Black Hawk Hotel is providing a discount on hotel rooms."
On a shorter course there's even a doggy cross and a kid's race. And check out the medals!
Twisted Cross 2022 is September 17 & 18. Pre-registration is cheaper and easier for all, plus racers will be staged by their USAC ranking at the close of pre-registration. (Register on race day and you will start behind pre-registered riders.) Pre-register by Thursday at noon at BikeReg.com.
Shorter days and cooler weather have made it feel like cyclocross season lately. With Labor Day Weekend here and gone, the season is getting a late but solid start with two beginner's clinics and a mid-week training race. And we still have Cannonball Cross to look forward to in November. (More on that here.)
The Des Moines area has had the jump on Eastern Iowa this year, with a Renegade Cross beginners' clinic and Valley hot laps every Wednesday in August. But we're catching up fast with the Twisted Cross Beginners' Clinic Thursday, Cross Curious with Corridor Devo in Coralville Sunday, and the IC Community Cross training race next Tuesday evening.
Everyone Begins Somewhere
Community 'Cross Tuesday night
"No frills, just fun." Says the Facebook event. "A fast yet challenging course with plenty of room to spectate and heckle." Tuesday night at 5:30? This has to be Iowa City Community Cross 2022.
The course Tuesday will be what everyone has come to expect in Upper City Park. "I think the course ends up a little under a mile total distance."
We hope so too! Register for Community Cross today at BikeReg.com.
Most folks had Cannonball Cross penciled in for Labor Day Weekend this year, and that was no surprise. That had been its date since its inception in 2016. The big surprise was the sudden date change to mid-November.
Trek was the week before Jingle Cross, so the only real chance to race beforehand was Pella's since-deceased Dirty Wooden Shoe. Cannonball Cross was filling a void, but when it hit the calendar on Labor Day weekend there was definitely some grumbling from roadie and MTB types about cyclocross encroaching on traditional summer dates.
"So, we are moving forward with a new date. Same great race minus the bugs!"
Does the constricting 'cross schedule signal hard times for the sport we love? "While cyclists have a tendency to move around disciplines, I think 'cross offers such a unique environment that it will never really lose its draw. It's an extremely social and high-energy setting, which makes every race an exciting experience. It takes a certain mindset to race 'cross, and the die-hards will never really walk away from that. The unique nature of the discipline continues to draw new people as well, similar to the traction gravel has been getting.
"The success of the UCI and World Cup races was a unique experience felt around the world -- it was even voted best World Cup at one point. That kind of impact can't be overstated.
"We lost a fantastic race, but it also leaves space for organizers, racers, brands, and fans to step up to the example Jingle Cross created. They showed us that the sky is the limit, and it's our turn to make sure that legacy carries on."
Thank you, Matt! More on Cannonball Cross 2022 later, but just for the record registration for November 19 & 20 is already open at BikeReg.com. Don't miss it!
Iowa State and National Championships
This Saturday Lions Park in Altoona will host the Iowa State Cyclocross Championship for the 13th time since 2008. Nothing unlucky about that, though -- the weather looks fine, the payouts generous, and a few days later CX Nationals will start just this side of Chicago.
"We're not planning any real large changes this year for State CX," said Race Director Justin Guiter from Zealous Racing. "That venue and course has been pretty tried and true over the years. If the couple days prior are wet, we may look at going back to previous versions, but for the most part the course itself will remain the same.
"Some teammates and I were just discussing the wide range of weather we've had for State CX. I think my first or second year there was a dusting of snow. Fast forward a couple years and it was -11⁰ at the start, and then just a couple years ago it was 34⁰ and raining, as well as the nicer days sprinkled in between."
So far the weather this year looks good, dry and ranging from an overnight low around 30⁰ to a high of 45⁰. That's lucky for us, not only to avoid sub-zero temps, but also without much rain the course will likely include the grassy climb and off camber 180 and descent below the park Shelter. It's a very fun part of the course.
The rest of the course isn't bad either. Arguably one of the better balanced races in the state, there's the uphill paved start and finish, power-sapping climbs and flowy descents, off-camber turns, and even a bit of single track. The challenging course and solid pay outs ensure some strong competition from neighboring states as well.
After years of practice, Zealous Racing knows how to get this race done. "Rory from RideBiker Alliance will be provide our State CX jersey for podium pictures with the option to order after the presentation to our winners. We'll have a food truck on site this year thanks to Off the Griddle. The menu is up in the air right now, but may include vegan options. We'll also have neutral support thanks to RynoVelo out of Ankeny."
Online registration for the Iowa State Cyclocross Championship ends Thursday at 6pm.
Finally Nationals in Chicago
It's been two years in the making, yet we've heard next to nothing about the course for USA Cyling's National Championships in Chicago next week. USAC posted the course map on Facebook yesterday, just a week before the event, but no details about elevation or terrain.
No matter, though: after Nationals and almost everything cyclocross was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, this year's event has already drawn over 1400 registrants. Beyond some stiff competition, we can't tell you too much about what to expect. But we can at least shout out to those representing Iowa there.
Jeff Osborn (Team Denovo) will race the Men's 50+ Thursday.
Jim Bethea (Iowa City Cycling Club), Noah Marcus (Neff Cycle Service), and Keith Snoop will race the Men's 45+ Thursday.
Linda Cooper (Sakari Race Team) will race the Women's 55+ Friday.
Autumn Olsen (Parallel 44) will race the 11-21 Women's Non-championship race Friday.
Clayton Stephens (Corridor Devo) will race the Men's Junior 13-14 Saturday.
Axel Brandsmeier (Corridor Devo), Fin Daufeldt (Corridor Devo), and Anders Holmes (L5 RACING TEAM) will race the Men's Junior 11-12 Saturday.
Griffin Caskey (Corridor Devo) and Chase Cubbage (Corridor Devo) will race the Men's Junior 15-16 Saturday.
Autumn Olsen (Parallel 44) will race the Women's Junior 15-16 Saturday.
Vance Fletcher (Phoenix Syndicate), Jason Scholbrock (BIKEIOWA Racing Team), Kaden Snoop, Brian West (Phoenix Syndicate), and Nathan Zollman (NorthStar Development) will race the Men's Singlespeed Saturday.
Nathan Zollman (NorthStar Development) will race the Men's Junior 17-18 Sunday.
And Luke Arens (Adapt Cycling), Seamus O'Connor-Walker (University of Iowa), and Dakota Olsen (Move Up) will race the Men's Under 23 Sunday.
Go get it!
Valley Cross and Championships Galore
State and Regional Chamionships lead up to Nationals in December
Then over the holiday weekend are the South Dakota Championship in Souix Falls and the Midwest Regional Championship in Crown Point, Indiana, just southeast of Chicago. Whether you're building toward Nationals or just prolonging your season, get ready to race!
Valley Cross EXpected to Be Dry And Fast
"The course will be dry and fast," said Race Director Jeff Osborn. "We’ve added a run up and a couple technical spots to slow it down just a bit."
photos by Angy Snoop (angysnoop.smugmug.com)
The permanent cyclocross course has been mowed and open for riding all season. Last year, when most events were cancelled due to Covid-19, Valley Cross managed two days of racing before a tighter lockdown nixed a third. This year Saturday is the only day to race Valley Cross.
"It’s a great venue and has something for every racer," said Osborn. "Plus, all race categories other than juniors have a chance to earn some cash."
If you're in Eastern Iowa, the Wisconsin Championship in Waterloo might not be much further away than West Des Moines, and that's on Trek's amazing backyard World Cup-worthy cx course. The Minnesota Championship is another option if you want to race both days this weekend.
The day after Thanksgiving is the South Dakota Championship in Souix Falls. That's a bit of a drive, but if you're in the neighborhood and looking to race, check it out.
Region Riot Cross hosts the Midwest Regional Championship
Region Riot Cross, the brainchild of Rob Curtis of PSImet Wheels, unfolds in Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. "It is a really cool course," said Baisa. "Lots of varying terrain, with forested elements, a covered bridge, out buildings, and a cool hill. There is a great section before the bridge called the surf that is all back and forth up and down a little ravine. It is a lot of fun."
That may not be so bad for more local races, but for a Regional Championship it certainly isn't ideal.
"We were able to build off the enthusiasm from the mid-week Upper City Park CX race in 2019 and 2021, which were based on a foundation laid by the Chamois Time gals in the years preceding that. Parks staff had been impressed with the turnout at those events, and were open to more events in the future. After a successful event this year I asked about a full day event, using Lower City Park and its larger area and unique features.
"Once I had the godfather of Iowa City Cyclocross, Todd Gillihan, on board to help set up and lay out an amazing course it was full steam ahead. We have worked closely with parks staff to best lay out a course that will minimize impact to the park and hopefully create more long term opportunities like this within the IC Parks system.
"It should be a fun course, well balanced between some flat and fast sections near the pond and horse shoe pits, but then finding some more challenging elements as we get behind the Shakespeare Theater and up into the big off camber oak grove near the parks main entrance. The course will pass by the historic log cabins after a long climb that boarders the upper park road. After this racers will bomb back down into the lower park and start it all over again. We think we have a great course planned out, weather looks like it will be ideal, and we are excited to take advantage of this new opportunity."
"The Corridor Devo Team and parents had been instrumental in helping Goosetown put on the Creekside Race in some of the previous years," said Sobocinski. "It seemed like a natural fit for them to take on a bigger role in the race production. They have been racing 'cross all over the state and beyond , so I trust they will put together something fun for all rider types while pushing and growing their skills.
"It's so important for these kids to have a role in actually putting on a race. They can see it's not about just showing up for your race time then going home when you cross the line. The whole production that goes into even a small local event is important to learn. "
Online registration for City Park Cross Saturday ends Thursday at 5pm. Registration for Creekside Cross Sunday ends Friday at 5pm. So far the forecast for both days looks good.
"Our courses can benefit both the mountain biker and the roadie, and with this venue it maybe leans a little more toward the mountain biker's side of the spectrum due to the geography. With a couple tweaks here and there, we've come up with a course that flows well and settles a little more in the middle of the two disciplines. A couple final adjustments will depend on if we have full access or even partial access to the road like we did a few years ago."
Unfortunately Spooky will only be one day this year, Saturday October 30. "When I first contacted the city about Spooky, things were still a bit uncertain as far as where we'd be at with Covid, restrictions, and safety measures," explained Guiter. "In the end we just opted for the one day event. As always, the City of Altoona has been amazing to work with and has continued to support our racing community. This has been an odd year of racing and I'm thankful we're back to hopping barriers again."
Dress for Success
Of course, the highlight of every Spooky Cross is the two lap Costume Race. Guiter promises a photo of this year's trophy on Facebook this week, just so you know what's at stake. To make it your own you have to win over the judges based on:
1.) Your finish in the race
2.) Your costume
3.) Theatrics (your character)
The Costume Race is free and everyone is encouraged to participate. For the rest of the Spooky Cross race schedule, register at BikeReg.com today.
Lion's Park to the north also has parking and you can ride the bike trail less than two minutes to the course. More details will be emailed to registered riders, so register now.
Six Weeks to Nationals
Losing most of the 2020 season to the pandemic has made us feel lucky to race cyclocross at all, but we've lost some race opportunities. With six weeks until Nationals -- in Chicago, no less -- Iowa has only four racing days on offer after Spooky. Anyone wanting to race their best at Nationals, or score some points before then, will need to broaden the scope of their race calendar.
As detailed on the CRANDIC Calendar, the Sunday after Spooky is Campton Cross just west of Chicago. The first weekend in November will feature two races in the Iowa City area, City Park CX Saturday November 6 and Creekside Cross Sunday November 7. If you'd rather travel for a big race with better points, Groundhog PSI-clocross that Sunday is a great choice, or maybe the two day Fulton Star CX in Minneapolis.
Again near Minneapolis is Croix Cross November 13 & 14, and the Minnesota State Championship November 20 & 21. Closer to home Saturday November 20 is Valley Cross in West Des Moines or even the Wisconsin State Championship at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo. Sunday is Wheeling CX in Chicago.
Over Thanksgiving weekend South Dakota's State Championship is Friday in Sioux Falls. After that it's just the Iowa State Championship in Altoona Saturday December 4 with the US National Championships starting just a couple days later in DuPage County Illinois (speaking of which, discounted "early bird" fee ends November 2 -- sign up now.).
Still "TBD" -- but sure to be sweet if it happens -- is Montrose Harbor in Chicago Sunday December 5, just before Nationals. Typically the last race of the Chicago Cross Cup, the Illinois State Championship, and recently a very worthy Midwest Regional Championship, sandy Montrose Harbor is about as challenging and fun as a race can be. If you're lucky enough to attend the whole National Championship, start your visit a couple days early on the shores of Lake Michigan. You won't be sorry you did.
The Grand and Other Big Things to Come
Jingle Cross is over. There was a time, before the World Cups came to the USA, when Jingle Cross was Thanksgiving weekend or later and felt like the culmination of the season. All the more reason that while we nurse our tired legs, skinned knees, and bruised egos, we also look forward to a lot of great cyclocross racing ahead in this 2021 season.
First and foremost for us Eastern Iowa types is The Grand this weekend in Des Moines. Two days of cyclocross brought to you by the Phoenix Syndicate, The Grand unfolds around The Sands Volley Ball Club right in the heart of the city.
For 2021 Scheels DSM stepped up from team sponsor to be the the title sponsor of The Grand. Bike Rags, Merchants Bonding Company, and DSM Stamp are also sponsoring the race. Online registration closes Thursday night, so get it done at Bikereg.com.
Spooky Cross and Beyond
Of course, this wouldn't be October if we weren't looking forward to Spooky Cross at the end of the month. This year Spooky will be just one day, Saturday October 30, but will offer plenty of cyclocross fun nonetheless. More on Spooky Cross later.
The first weekend in November will feature two races in the Iowa City area. Sadly, Bobber's Cross won't be happening, as the marina campsite/bar & grill will already be closed for the season. Creekside Cross in Coralville is still a go for Sunday, November 7, and will be presented by Corridor Devo. For Saturday, November 6, Goosetown Racing/New Pi has plans for a new race in Iowa City's Lower City Park. We'll have more on that soon.
Saturday, December 4 will be the Iowa State Cyclocross Championship in Altoona. That's just days before the start of the USA 2021 National Cyclocross Championship near Chicago December 6-12.
Next week more details about the local races above, plus some teasers for great racing options throughout the region. Check the CRANDIC Calendar for all the latest. And get ready. There's plenty more great racing to come.