Plans don't always work the way we expect them to, but somehow they do work out in the end. After its debut as a two-day race in 2017, Creekside ReUnion was reduced to one day of racing and Goosetown Racing Club planned to share the weekend with local favorite Bobbers Cross. But months later, after Bobbers was cancelled due to flooding, newcomer Corridor Devo Junior Cycling Team stepped up to help bring a second day of racing to Coralville Creekside Cross this coming weekend, November 3 & 4.
Goosetown Racing Club's Nick Sobicinski is acting as Race Director for both days. "Through my role at Geoff's Bike & Ski I had also been essentially serving as the Race Director for Bobbers Cross as well so it was relatively easy to facilitate once I knew I had adequate assistance to do it."
Saturday's race will still be sponsored by ReUnion Brewery and presented by Goosetown Cycling Club. "The second day at Creekside was a last minute decision after we learned that Bobbers would be cancelled due to flooding at Scales Pointe campground. As soon as that cancellation was announced people reached out asking for a second day of racing at Creekside Park. When I got a commitment from the Cooridor Devo we decided to go ahead with it."
Corridor Devo helps save the day
"With Bobbers cancelled, we said we'd like to have two days of racing -- why not make Creekside two days?" said Cooridor Devo's Ryan Jacobsen. "The juniors will help set up the course and work on race day. We asked the kids what they would like to see with some of the course features so they can really feel some ownership." Proceeds from Sunday's race will go to the Cooridor Devo team, helping them expand their efforts. Proceeds from Saturday will go to the Iowa City Cyclocross Club, the volunteer group that helps the City of Coralville manage Coralville Creekside Cross, a permanent cyclocross course.
Corridor Devo are hardly strangers to Creekside. Many of the juniors raced there last year or in September at the Midweek Mayhem, and the team uses the course for practices. "We hold practices out there every other week," said Jacobsen. "We practice odd weeks in Cedar Rapids, even weeks in Coralville." While presenting a race wasn't originally part of Corridor Devo's plan, "We want to support the local race community."
"About a year ago we set a goal of starting a team of ten kids. Now we have close to twenty. The kids are having fun. The families are part of the team. It's been a real sense of community, getting the team started. And this is just the beginning."
Ryan's daughter Jocelyn has already done 12 cyclocross races this year. "It's going great. It's a lot of fun. We do practices and we got our kits." The best part? "We have a lot of people who support us."
A weekend of racing
Coralville Creekside Cross is spread across 30 acres alongside a softball field of the same name. Last year the race weekend there featured nearly 200 feet of climbing each lap in either direction. This year the races will be clockwise both days, but otherwise will be very different Saturday and Sunday.
According to Sobicinski, "Creekside offers so many opportunities and options but also has some limitations due to the length and grade of the course. Expect something similar to the course used for the Midweek Mayhem race -- clockwise around the course, dropping down the hill, over the bridge, and up to the barnyards. The course will navigate the hillside and barnyards differently each day. The serpentine ditch will be in on Saturday. For Sunday's race we'll try to minimize really long climbs by traversing the hillside more."
"We have a great schedule for the weekend that will keep the races moving and exciting for both riders and spectators throughout the day." Saturday races start at 11am and include a kids race at 12:45, with the final race of the day concluding at 3:30pm. Sunday races start at 10am but will not include a kids race, with the last race of the day finishing at 3pm.
"It is possible that Bobbers and Creekside will be paired up again," explained Sobicinski. "Pairing up two very different courses within Johnson County was a big reason Creekside went to one day; I was excited by the opportunity to offer a unique race weekend showcasing things happening in the area beyond Jingle Cross."
Bobbers Cross can be a challenge to schedule around Iowa football, meaning that the event bounces to a different weekend each year. "Geoff's has always put on Bobbers and the venue really makes that event special. Bobbers will return next year. We will work with the folks at the campground to determine the best date for the race. As always the big moving piece will be Jingle Cross and how and when it happens in 2019."
Coralville Creekside Cross, nestled between I-80 and I-380 in the western part of the Iowa City area, is 30 minutes from Cedar Rapids, 90 from Cedar Falls, and just 100 minutes from Des Moines.
Pack your waders, folks, 'cause it looks like rain.
Spooky Cross has been scaring Iowa bike racers for over a decade now. First in Cumming, then in Urbandale, most recently in Altoona. The location has changed but the formula has remained the same: frightful speed, fierce competition, spooky costumes, and fun.
Again this year Spooky has found a new home, and it might be its best venue yet. Race director Justin Guiter (Zealous Racing) explained, "We have a new venue from years past. The new course has more of a mix of terrain than what we used to have. It is on the side of a hill along a creek, so it offers more elevation, too. There are opportunities for run ups we haven't had in the past. And there are off-camber sections that will challenge your handling skills wet or dry. We've also sprinkled in some fast flat sections for recovery or to open up the stable and let the horses run."
Kerrie Bernstein (Zealous Racing) got to ride the course while checking out the new prospect. "The new course is more challenging technically. It's a super fun and fast ride, but if it's muddy be prepared to run and carry your bike.
"There is a steep run up that could be crazy if it rains. And the off camber section is tough; there is a chance you could slip down into the creek that runs along side it." (Guiter assures us that "we have nylon fencing along that section so – hopefully – no one makes it into the creek." But we'll see...)
The new venue at the Altoona Campus (similar to a YMCA) is just southwest of the Altoona Aquatic Center where the race has been held most recently. According to Guiter, "It's different than [the Aquatic Center] as there we had a small area we were trying to get as creative as possible with, whereas this has a lot of potential to do whatever we want to in the future. In the past we did a good job of adding small sections each year and building on our success from previous courses. At the new venue we hope to still have some of our well known features and touches added to appeal to both roadies and mountain bikers.
"Unfortunately, the decision to change venues was not left to us. The City of Altoona planned to build a new City Hall/Police Station in the area we've used in recent years. We knew this day was coming, we just didn't know when. We found out by riding to the course the week prior to our scheduled course work day; there were construction stakes in the ground labeling where to grade and such. The next Monday ground was broke and we were officially without a venue.
"Altoona has been incredibly supportive of bike racing over the years, especially cyclocross, with both Spooky Cross and the Iowa State Cyclocross Championships only about two miles away. The city worked with us and gave us some options. After a few email exchanges and off-road excursions by foot, bike, and truck, we landed on this new venue as a good fit with a lot of potential, possibly more potential than our previous venue. Again, the City was very supportive of what we presented to them for the new venue."
The course will be quite different Saturday and Sunday "to keep you on your toes." Some parts will run in reverse but new sections will be added to give the two days a very different feel. "There are opportunities for different run-up's for each course, but those are still to be determined. At this point, one course seems a little easier and faster than the other, but I'll let you be the judge of which is which."
Saturday will include the 2-lap costume race again this year, explained Guiter. "That seemed to be a hit last year and will hopefully have another good turnout this year. The course will be condensed from the full Saturday lap to make it more fun for those that have a more ... uncomfortable costume. We're also looking at adding a kid's course that would consist of a small taped off course at the venue for those little ones that are running balance bikes." Juniors and youths race for free both days.
"Parking may be confusing as the meat and potatoes of the course are on the southside of the Altoona Campus," according to Guiter. "Parking will be available at a bar, the Brewhouse No. 25, about 100 yards from the venue, a Church with a large parking lot, and the Altoona Campus. We'll post signs, but it may still be a bit of a challenge as it is a new venue and parking is not in plain site like our old venue."
Spooky Cross' catchet and proximity to Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas promise a level of competition not seen in eastern Iowa aside from Jingle Cross. Its new home at the Altoona Campus is under two hours from Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. And remember, Zealous Racing's scary weekend of cyclocross benefits JDRF.
Saturday morning the Altoona Fire Department will host an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. At the venue itself food will be available both days from Big Acai Bowls and Willie's BBQ.
This weekend is the second edition of BIKEIOWA's two-day race at Des Moine's Sands Volleyball Club. Last year's premiere of The Grand drew over 170 racers, at least that many spectators, and some truly world class hecklers. For year two BIKEIOWA warns us to expect the unexpected.
In 2017 mother nature dumped an inch of rain on the course just after the races Saturday. The first races Sunday started out a little sloppy, but the sandy ground tacked up nicely for the rest of the day. This year Sands has seen it's share of flooding -- it was completely under water in July -- but with a dry week in the forecast the course is good to go.
Amenities include indoor restrooms, outdoor showers, bike wash, parking, seating, and heated tents/overhangs. Sands is right on the bike trail and close to a bike shop, but it's NOT dog friendly, so leave Doggo at home this weekend.
Food trucks this year will include:
Last year the course was about 1.7 miles long and included some long power sections and a mix of tight and twisty turns in the woods. Des Moines' central location and BIKEIOWA's reputation for throwing a good party helped draw racers from Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas, of course, but also from Utah, Connecticut, Washington, Texas, and Mississippi. The level of competition did not disappoint.
In 2016, the first year of Twisted Cross, the Cedar Falls cyclocross race was the same day as Trek's CX Cup in Wisconsin. Not wanting to repeat that conflict again, last year organizers settled for mid-November, but a cold snap brought challenges of its own -- the races were fun, of course, but making a day of it was less inviting.
This year Twisted Spokes secured a sweet new weekend for their two-day cx event, a month earlier on the calendar, on October 13 and 14. What could possibly go wrong? Flooding, that's what. Heavy rains in mid-September put Tondro Pray Bike Park, home to Twisted Cross, completely under water. But despite that and recent threats of even more flooding, the race will go on.
"We've redesigned the course at Tondro Pray and it looks like a million dollars," said Race Director Joel Mason. "New sections, new features, no pinwheel, and a design that should stand up to even more rain. Flood recovery has gone extremely well thanks to an army of volunteers and city employees." Twisted Cross is on -- get up to Cedar Falls this weekend!
There's More to Come
The last few days waiting to hear of Twisted Cross' fate have been a bit meloncholy. By now the biggest spectacles of the year, Trek and Jingle Cross, are but fading memories. On top of that the cancellation of Bobbers (flooding) and the threat to Twisted made it feel like 'cross season is nearly over. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Cyclocross season is what you make of it, of course. Roadies might be content to extend their season a race or two in September. Fair-weather 'crossers will go on for a while longer ... depending. But if you love cyclocross there's no reason not to race through State in early December or even Nationals a couple weeks later. That means your season isn't half over.
Over two months of racing are yet to come after Twisted this weekend. Back to back weekends in Des Moines (The Grand and Spooky), then one day of racing at Coralville Creekside Cross. After that you might have to get creative -- Fulton Star Cross in Minneapolis, maybe? Or if Frosty Cross is too far maybe a Chicago Cross Cup race or two?
It's entirely possible that other Iowa races will surface before State December 1 (Valley Cross, anyone?). If not, though, there are plenty of alternatives in neighboring states. Then after State there's the Midwest Championship in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, just days before the beginning of Nationals December 11-16 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Days get shorter. Temperatures fall. Mud gives way to snow. We have plenty of cyclocross yet to come. Are you ready to race?