Cyclocross practices have begun. Two favorite early season races, Cannonball Cross and Dirty Wooden Shoe, are the weekend after next and the one after. (Check CRANDIC Calendar for more.) The 2019 cyclocross season is truly here, and there's a lot to look forward to.
Cannonball Cross and Dirty Wooden Shoe mark the start of cyclocross season.
Sign Up How
So what's new this year? For starters, signing up. If your eyes gloss over at USACycling announcements you might have missed their new partnership with East Coast based BikeReg.com. Instead of splitting the honors, BikeReg.com will now handle all online registrations for USAC-sanctioned events. It works similarly to what you've done through USACycling in the past, but it will be nice to have all races in one spot.
This also makes us wonder if USAC's national ranking system will give way to BikeReg's own crossresults.com. Reportedly, though, for now the two systems will continue separately.
As for actual races, so far the news is a bit of a mixed bag. There is no Intergalactic Cyclocross Championship on the calendar for 2019 ("Too many great races this year filling the calendar already!"). But a great venue with that kind of history is bound to return at some point.
In Iowa City, there's no final word yet on a practice race at Coralville Creekside Cross, but a weekday evening event, City Park Community CX, was just announced for Wednesday, September 4.
With two World Cup races nearly in our backyards and a full season of great Iowa cyclocross races, why are we so excited about the FayetteCross UCI race in October down in Arkansas? Worlds 2022.
When the UCI announced Fayetteville as the site for Cyclocross Worlds, some people were left scratching their heads. Mountain bike fans, though, already knew BikeNWA as the folks who made Northwest Arkansas a mtb mecca. They and the UCI both knew that with enthusiastic backing from the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart), BikeNWA is more than capable of remaking Fayetteville into a cyclocross destination.
As VeloNews reported back in February, "For the next three years, cycling advocates and organizers in Northwest Arkansas will work to create a grassroots cyclocross scene to support the world’s biggest cyclocross event." Our first chance to race what will become Worlds 2022 is FayetteCross, October 5 & 6, 2019! (500+ miles from Eastern Iowa, about 8 hours of driving.) More soon!
MidWest REgional Championship
Last year, after missing the Chicago Cross Cup's season finale at sandy Montrose Harbor, we were disappointed to hear that it would no longer serve as the Illinois State Championship. What we didn't know at the time was that instead, for 2019 Montrose Harbor will be the MidWest Regional Championship. Considering that Nationals is nearly 2000 miles away on the West Coast this year, and that Iowa's State Championship is slated for November, Montrose Harbor will be the place to be Sunday, December 8. (Montrose Harbor, Chicago is 240 miles away, around 4 hours drive.)
photos courtesy of SnowyMountain Photography
Even further up the road, but no less exciting, Cyclocross Nationals 2020 will be in Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois. It's a new venue and we don't know much yet, but not since Madison have Nationals been so close to home. If you weren't worrying about your points before you may want to start -- the next two years are one long build up to Cantigny Park! (Wheaton, IL is 200 miles or so, around 3 hours.)
Okay, so not perfect, exactly. Let's say practice makes us better. In cyclocross wasted seconds add up fast, so the better prepared you are at the line the better your race will be. It's still fun, just fast and fun.
Luckily, Corridor 'cross racers have some options for honing their skills. CRANDIC Racing and friends will be at Coralville Creekside Cross Tuesdays from 5:30 on. You can even ride out via the recently extended Clear Creek Bike Trail. All are welcome, just wear a helmet.
For the latest updates drop us a line.
Just a few fun teasers for Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky December 11-16.
For an even closer look at the course itself and some interesting background check out CXHairs' excellent Course Preview.
Cyclocross Nationals start in just a week, but there are plenty of cross races on offer in the Midwest this weekend, including CornerstoneCX in Ames and the Midwest Regional Championship in Sun Prairie Wisconsin. Both races are Saturday, December 8, and both are preparing warming stations to help racers stay out of the cold. Other than that these two races are quite different: the Regional Championship is classic cyclocross at a storied venue, while CornerstoneCX is all new this year adding one or two unique twists to our beloved sport.
CornerstoneCX will feature two waves of races on two separate courses, all for the price of one. It also welcomes non-racers to come try riding the course ... for free. Race Director Scott Wall (Ames Velo) explained: "Because of the late date we figured people might be burned out on cross and we wanted to offer something different.
"We hope the race-off between the fastest and slowest riders in each group with no additional fees will hook people into coming and staying around for a second race. Keeping the second race short (think fat tire criteriums) should keep the intensity high, too – there won’t be time to ease into the race then pick off riders ahead of you.
If you're confused at all by the unusual format, don't worry. Ames Velo has it laid out clearly on their website along with maps and profiles. For the latest info check the Cornerstone CX Facebook page. The race is just an hour and forty minutes drive from Cedar Rapids and two hours from Iowa City.
Midwest Cyclocross Championship, Sun Prairie, WI
Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin has held a special place in the hearts of 'cross racers since the heady days of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross (2009-2012) when it served as one of only four stops in the national series. Saturday, for the third year running, it will play host to the Midwest Cyclocross Championships.
Registration, results, and podiums will be at Nitty Gritty across the street from the North end of the park. Staging, start, and finish will be on that end of the park as well.
The Midwest Regional Championship promises some of the best competition in the region. But if one last race isn't enough for you, or if you want a second tune-up on your way down to Louisville, Sunday check out the Chicago Cuttin Crew's Afterglow in Douglas Park, Chicago. See CXMagazine for an excellent write-up of both races.
Congrats to all of our cyclocross-crazy Iowans on their way to the National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. Go get it!
This coming weekend features the Iowa State Cyclocross Championship Saturday at Lions Park in Altoona and the Illinois State Championship at Montrose Harbor in Chicago. For eastern Iowa racers Saturday is all but mandatory, of course. But anyone preparing for Nationals or just looking to extend their season should consider making the trip to race Sunday as well.
Iowa State Championship at Lion's Park
"There will be some changes, but mostly administrative. This year will include a Masters 65+ category. In recent years the number of racers beyond the 65 age mark has grown, so it seems fitting to have them duke it out for a State Championship.
"A huge thank you and shout out to Brooke Bailey for organizing the jersey. The design is awesome. It's a great addition to the Iowa Cyclocross scene."
Lion's Park in Altoona is under two hours drive from eastern Iowa. The forecast for Saturday so far is low 40s and a chance of rain. Register online at USAC.
Sunday, December 2, Montrose Harbor is the last event in the Chicago Cross Cup and serves as the Illinois State Championship. No small part of what makes the race a highlight, though, is the venue itself. Mark Zalewski of Spidermonkey Cycling explained: "The sand dunes unique to the area make it different than the rest of the CCC series and many other events in the region. Also, on the lakefront in December the weather is a significant factor — no year is ever similar because of this. In 2014 it was 62 degrees and sunny, while in 2016 snow started after the second category and it became a muddy/sandy wonderland. Plus the city skyline as a backdrop is hard to match!"
Photos and captions thanks to SnowyMountain Photography.
"For this year the course will again feature many of these highlight features, but with a couple of specific items added to mimic the Nationals course in Louisville, since many from our region are planning to attend Nationals two weeks later."
Next year another race will serve as Illinois State Championship, but Montrose Harbor will remain the Chicago Cross Cup Series finale and will still garner plenty of interest. "This year only two categories are locked-up before the race, with some categories separated by only a few points, which will make the race even more exciting. We are also working in a few ideas to make the race even bigger."
Montrose Harbor is 4+ hours driving from eastern Iowa. Current weather forecasts are for temps in the low 40s and light rain. For the latest info check the CCC website. Register online at BikeReg.com.
Does the thought of a four-day weekend without a race have you down? (Aside from the Turkey Trots, I mean.) Do you pine for the old days when Jingle Cross made Thanksgiving a real holiday? Are you concerned about race fitness with State and Nationals just weeks away? Don't worry. Cyclocross is here for you. With a little extra planning and effort you can race this holiday weekend.
Like every other weekend in our cyclocross season, Thanksgiving weekend affords us some options. Maybe you'll visit family in Indiana, so Region Riot CX near Gary will be close. Or if heading south for warmth is more to your liking, you might want to check out Kansas City's Fast and Furriest Cyclocross. Closer still, and as part of the Wisconsin Cycling Associations CX Series a good bet for stiff competition and a lot of fun, is the Battle of Waterloo CX.
Many of you know Waterloo, Wisconsin as home to Trek's CXC World Cup. That's understandable. But many don't realize that the little town hosts two other cyclocross races, the State Championship in December and the Battle of Waterloo this coming Saturday.
"This is the sixth running of the Battle of Waterloo CX," said Team Wheel & Sprocket's John Svanda. "We've changed dates over the years to accommodate other races in our series. We have hosted the State Championships in December and last year we had a mud-fest in October. But the majority of our races have fallen in November, so we feel that’s our sweet spot."
The race course is in Firemen's Park in Waterloo. "If you were up for the Trek World Cup, you may have driven past our hidden little gem. Firemen's Park is set back from the heart of downtown Waterloo and is home to one of the oldest operating carousels in the country. While it's closed for winter now, it really takes you back a few generations when you see it in action."
"We have a heated pavilion with room to set up trainers, indoor restrooms, a bar, and about everything needed for a cold-weather event. The race course has a great mixture of power, technical off-camber, fast descents, and plenty of climbing. If someone is targeting Nationals, this is where they want to be!"
Firemen's Park in Waterloo, Wisconsin is three and a half hours from Iowa City. So far, at least, the forecast for next Saturday is light rain and a high in the mid-40s. Check the Facebook Battle of Waterloo page for the latest info, more photos, and course maps and preview videos from years past.
If you've never raced in Wisconsin, expect a technical course, tough competition, and lots of hospitality. Svanda's Battle of Waterloo is no exception: "I hope to see you and the rest of your crew up here. As an incentive for making the long drive, I can knock $10 off of your entry fee. It’s not a lot, but I hope it helps!" That's only if you pre-register, folks, so get on it. Just use 'WELCOMEIOWA' when registering at USAC, and prepare for battle.
These days anyone planning to race State or Nationals is struggling to find daylight for training and races to hone their fitness and skills. The weekend of November 17 & 18 eastern Iowa types have several choices. There are state championships in Omaha, Nebraska and Minneapolis, Minnesota, but closer still are Valley Cross in West Des Moines and Pheasant Run Resort CX in Chicago.
Valley Cross, West Des Moines
Valley Cross, Saturday at the permanent cyclocross course at the Valley Community Center in West Des Moines, is your last chance to race in Iowa before the State Championship December 1. Now in its third year of hosting races, the event's organizers are working to make the course better than ever.
"The course has had a face lift. Now it’s as smooth as blacktop," said U-ME COMPETE's Jeff Osborn. "The course layout is pretty much the same, maybe a couple of changes from last year. If it’s dry, it will be very fast."
The course is fast with sweeping turns, a berm with off-camber sections, a steep hill run up, and a fast 1/2 mile section around the Global Greens Farm. "Last year we donated $500 to Global Greens Farm, with a good turnout we hope to do the same again this year."
Registration will be at the Valley Community Center, which also means indoor plumbing and a warm place to hang out -- important details this time of year. The total purse for Valley Cross is $1,960, with equal payout of $600 to the men’s and women’s top races. This year there will be cash payouts to all categories except juniors, who will win prizes.
Valley Cross is just under two hours of driving from Iowa City, and just over from Cedar Rapids. Not quite twice as far away (3-3:30 hours), but with two days of cross racing, is Pheasant Run Resort CX in Chicago, stops 10 & 11 of the Chicago Cross Cup.
Pheasant Run Resort CX, Chicago
"The course was really fun last year," said Rule #5's Jim Cochran, "There were some long fast straights, tricky off-camber turns, a few barriers, and a tough muddy run along a flat section. Throw in and an off-camber section that if you messed up you could slide into a nearly frozen pond and you have a good time."
2018 is only the second year for Pheasant Run, but it's part of a long tradition of a late season two-day race in Chicago. For years Indian Lakes Resort CX offered top level cyclocross at a posh venue, and riding from hotel lobby to starting grid proved almost as popular as a weekend with cyclocross friends and family. When Indian Lakes was no longer available the South Chicago Wheelmen moved their race weekend ten miles down the road to Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois.
"It's fun to get over to Chicago at least once a season," said Cochran. "You can usually grab a hotel for around $100, have two good days of racing, race some new people in bigger fields, and explore some new restaurants." Is it worth the long drive? He thinks so: "It's only about 3 hrs 15 minutes and I'm heading to Le Mars (5 hrs)!
"The race announcers usually do a nice job with shout outs to Iowa riders, and the fans are fun too," said Cochran. It was super cold and muddy last year. I think I came the closest I ever have to crying after a CX race as my fingers regained feeling!"
Hopefully it won't be quite that cold this year. But even if it is, expect 500+ racers to line up at Pheasant Run Resort. Discounted rooms are just $92/night (630-584-6300, code "cyclocross").
If you have yet to commit to racing the Cyclocross National Championships next month in Louisville, Kentucky, now might be a good time. Early registration ends Friday night, after which the price goes up by around 30%. Besides, with just five weeks to go, it's time to tweak and hone your training and to make some arrangements for housing.
This year's second Cyclocross Championship, "18.2" marks the event's return to December. For several years USAC scheduled Nat's for January, when national championships happen in Europe. But in the colder climates of the northern United States that made for sparse schedules leading up to the event and lower attendance as a result. The first CX Championship of 2018 was January 9-14 in Reno, Nevada. 18.2 will be December 11-16.
Lucky for us, Nationals this time around is in Louisville, Kentucky, an easy 7+ hour drive from eastern Iowa. Many of us visited Louisville for Masters Worlds and the UCI's World Championship in 2013. But Nat's this year isn't at Eva Bandman Park & Cyclocross Venue, the permanent cyclocross course right on the Ohio River. Instead it will be a few miles south in Joe Creason Park, home of last year's Derby City Cup and the 2017 Pan American Cyclocross Championship.
We won't race the exact same course this year, but videos from last year's races can give us some idea of what Joe Creason Park has in store for us.
Come for a race or two, stay for the week. Louisville is a beautiful city with tons of stuff to do. Sadly, the Mega Cavern Bike Park is closed for the season, but you'll find plenty of other ways to keep busy. Score an Airbnb in the Highlands or Germantown neighborhoods and you'll be within biking distance of both the race venue and downtown Louisville.
Five weeks is too far out to predict weather, but on average Louisville is 11-12˚ F warmer than eastern Iowa in December, with an average high in the mid-40s, and an average low hovering right around freezing. With twice the chance for rain -- eight days a month to our four -- Louisville seems the perfect spot for Cyclocross Nationals.