Practice races like the Chamois Time CX race last week and the Creekside Midweek Mayhem this Thursday show how low-key, grass roots events can turn out 'cross racers both new and long in the tooth. This weekend and the one after, though, will showcase the other extreme of the cyclocross spectrum as World Cup cyclocross returns to Trek CX Cup in Waterloo, WI and Jingle Cross here in Iowa City, IA.
It's like a bit of European cyclocross in our own back yards -- instead of the participatory sport we know and love, for these two weekends cyclocross is transformed by the spectacle of the very best in the world. There are only nine World Cup races in the 2018-19 season. The first two are here in Waterloo and Iowa City. The best in the world will race here. Watch in awe.
In their own ways both Trek and Jingle Cross are changing the sport. Jaws dropped last year when Jingle Cross, a volunteer effort at Iowa City's Johnson County Fairground, was voted the best World Cup race in the series. The race's focus on fun and commitment to 'cross racing for everyone has won over fans for years -- just ask crowd favorite Helen Wyman.
Both of these races depend heavily on volunteers to make their magic happen. Whether setting up the course, working registration, or serving as crossing guards, anyone can help and have fun doing it. If you're able, consider volunteering before during or after the Trek CX Cup or Jingle Cross.
Unlike their European counterparts, Trek CXCup and Jingle Cross have both maintained healthy schedules of amateur racing alongside their elite and World Cup events. This year Jingle Cross has even returned to its roots with three full days of racing for every amateur category. That means there are races there for you, whatever your age or skill level. Cheer, help, and race!
By now BIKEIOWA has an idea of the course they'll stake out in Des Moine's Stone Park. Some features will be very familiar -- for example, those pine trees that slap your face every lap -- some features might be totally new. Guaranteed, though, line up at Capital City Cross Saturday and you'll find artifacts of races past, ruts in parts of the park we aren't even using, lines etched into the oddest spots.
This Saturday will be more than a practice race. When the lap cards, sponsor banners, and port-o-pottys appear you know the race is on. And when racers from Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota, and across Iowa hear "Capital City Cross" they know where they'll want to be.
Register at USACycling, check for the latest at BIKEIOWA, or get nostalgic with our blog from 2017, Capital City Cross is Back. If you can make a weekend of it, check out Relaycross Sunday afternoon.
Relaycross in support of the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry
Relaycross is simple: 2 hours of racing with 4 teammates tagging in and out to pile on as many laps as possible before time runs out. The team with the most laps wins.
The race takes place at Mullets, former home of the beloved Oakley Night Cap and long time sponsor of BIKEIOWA. Relaycross is as serious or leisurely as you want. You can race all out or at a conversational pace. It's all for a good cause.
"Payouts? Yep. High fives, pride and good karma to everyone that enters.
"Pre registration and online fees? Nope! Day of only.
"Do I need a license you ask? Hell no! This is a charity race people. So please grab your donations and join us on September 16th at Mullets. Registration opens at 12:00pm and closes at 1:00pm."
This year Relaycross will be racing for the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry.
The Urban Bicycle Food Ministry is a grass-roots non-profit organization that feeds the homeless in Des Moines. Check out Relaycross at BIKEIOWA.
by Tara Coady
Sooo, I thought I'd do a race report from this weekend now.
I raced at Cannonball CX this weekend for the first time. The race has been going on for the last couple of years, but I was recovering from breast cancer surgery the first year, and I had a bad cold last year. Then this year, I finally got to race it. Yea!
It was a little muddy when we first got there, and I am a big scaredy cat, so there were several things I was afraid to ride. I pre-rode the course a few times and found the guts to ride a couple of the things I was initially afraid of, but not all.
There was a great group of women riders, with some strong talent from Minneapolis. There were also a lot of new Spin Devo women who were fun and strong too.
Now, I'm going to talk about the things I love about CX. Because, let's face it, I am never going to win the Cyclocross Olympics, or very many races at all for that matter. So people have asked me why I do it? Cannonball CX was a prime example of why I race cyclocross.
Like I said before, I am, as John likes to say, an overly cautious old woman. I have to fight myself again and again to get up the courage to do certain things. Riding down steep hills in muddy conditions is one of those things.
When I first rode the course, I was terrified to ride down the big, muddy hill. Every time after that on my pre-ride, I would think I could do it, and I would stare and stare down from the top of it for what seemed like three hours before I finally wussed-out and walked/slid down it with my bike in hand.
I started out the race okay and passed a couple of people before I got to said big hill, which I walked down. I was the only woman in the whole filed who walked down it. And because I walked it, everyone passed me and I was in last place of ALL the categories of women. I decided right then that if every other woman could ride down that hill, then I could too.
So, when I got to it on the next lap, I took a deep breath, sucked down my "what-ifs," and rode down it. Holy cow! It was so easy. Seriously. No problem at all. Derrrrr.
Then I spent the rest of the race trying to catch the other women. I passed some and the rest of them were way ahead of me. I even got lapped by a couple of them too. Which is fine by me, because it makes my race shorter and I am still in pretty crappy shape.
Toward the end of the race, I took a $2 bill hand-up, put it between my teeth, and came into the finish looking classy as hell...Or whatever.
I get so many things by riding cyclocross. I'm not winning many races, but I am conquering my fears, and taking myself out of my comfort zone, and meeting really fun people, and playing outside, and most importantly, I'm finding that I'm able to ignore (at least some of the) voices in my head that scream "I can't" at me.
It's also a double bonus that I have a partner/husband who likes to ride bikes in the mud as much as I do.
So, after FINALLY getting to race Cannonball CX, I rate it a raging success for me...By my rules anyway.
Reprinted from Tara's blog, Churlish Figure.
"Dirty Wooden Shoe is one of my favorite 'cross races of the season," said Darian Nagle-Gamm of Iowa City Cycling Club, "I love everything about the course. It has challenging topography and great features such as the "Dutch Letters" ... which might be my favorite cross feature of all time. It also has a nice, flowy recovery zone down the hill weaving between trees that is really fun to ride."
Dirty Wooden Shoe, September 8 & 9, is set on the south shores of Lake Red Rock between Pella and Knoxville. At first glance the wide open, grassy course might not seem particularly technical. But even aside from the beloved Dutch letters, Dirty Wooden Shoe will be sure to test our skills. “Our course has long, power-sucking straights as well as tight, twisty, and technical sections," said Race Director Jacob Oyen of Pella Bike Racing.
Not far past the start a steep off camber 180 will slow all but the bravest riders. Half a lap later a 4x4 turns an otherwise modest uphill into a run-up for anyone unwilling to chance a bunny hop. Just after that, a twisty section ends with another tight off camber turn that betrays foibles nearly every lap. The course has developed over the years to make good use of every slope or natural obstacle. Organizers add some unique man-made barriers as well.
The race itself is challenging and fun, and it's worth remembering with some Dutch-themed prizes. "The wooden shoe awards are also a nice touch," said Darian, "paying homage to the early Dutch settlers. I've never won a coveted wooden shoe, but that doesn't stop me from coming back and trying every year!
"This year I booked an Airbnb so that I can stay overnight and enjoy the area," Darian said. "I want to check out Peace Tree Brewery and take the kids to hang out and enjoy beautiful Lake Red Rock and the surrounding recreation areas."
With both Dirty Wooden Shoe and his work on the Iowa Cyclocross Series, Oyen is always working to promote and grow the sport. At this year's race, a classic for anyone new to 'cross, beginning women and juniors race for just $15 and don't pay a late fee. Everyone else should register online to avoid a $10 hike for day-of registration.