"I've only done Bobbers once," explained Jim Bethea of Iowa City Cycling Club. "I don't remember much other than a massive sand pit and the possibility of riding into the lake if you weren't paying attention. It is a big contrast to Creekside in that there isn't much elevation gain.
"I like the hills at Creekside. It is the hilliest course in Iowa outside of Jingle and that helps me a bit. The sand pit can be dicey if it doesn't rain. The ability to ride the sand and hills can be a difference maker on that course."
"In general, the course at Creekside is very difficult," said Brooke Bailey, Caelyn's mom and Spin Devo coach. "It may be too hard for juniors. Maybe an abbreviated course for juniors is a good idea, cutting out the top of the climb. As a coach, I like to see the technical features for the kids. How else are they going to learn, and who wants a grass criterium, really? Any junior that wants to do a full course could race category."
"For Bobbers we are just excited to be back after cancelling last year due to flooding. The course will remain pretty much the same as years past." Both races are part of the Iowa Cyclocross Series.
"I've helped set up Bobbers for the past seven years," said Chad Mittelstadt of Corridor Devo. "I like Bobbers since it is a smaller venue with all the amenities one would want, like good food and drinks provided by a friendly staff. Not to mention the scenic view of the reservoir, assuming the weather is nice.
"Last but not least are the folks who make the race happen every year. Geoff's Bike and Ski staff are great folks. Their kid's race with lots of candy is a family favorite. Who else has some sort of goofy race like tandem skis? Those features plus the end-of-the-day raffle drawing make it better than any other race day. Their logo is 'the best little cross race in Johnson County,' and I don't disagree."
Again, two very different races, but with another common thread: lately both have been lightening rods for bad weather. As Bethea recalled, "My biggest memory of Creekside is that it is usually the coldest cross race not called Frosty Cross."
Floods ended any hope of racing Bobbers Cross last year, instead leading to two days of muddy racing at Creekside. In years past Bobbers has been muddly as well. Race either or both, but be prepared.
"Bobbers was my first cross race ever," said Olivia Croskey of Johnson County Flyers. "It was pouring rain and muddy as hell. Everyone said, 'this is ‘cross.' I was thinking, whaaaa??? It was so hard! I came in last and I hate/loved it. But here we are, season three of cyclocross, and I think it is probably the race I am most excited about doing!"
Wait . . . No Masters Women ? ! ? !
This year Creekside Cross and Bobbers Cross became the second and third races in the Iowa Cyclocross Series to drop Masters Women from their race schedules. (Dirty Wooden Shoe quit offering Masters Women races in 2016.)
This is especially unfortunate as Masters Women have had a great year in Iowa so far, even outnumbering Women 1/2/3 at most races. Rather than ignore that momentum, the IACX Series should embrace and reflect it.
Growing the sport we love means making spaces for others who love it too. Beyond any argument about numbers or fairness, remember that in addition to the women already racing Masters, over half of Iowa's 1/2/3s and many 4/5s are age 35 or above. In years to come the option to race Masters may be key to keeping those women in the sport.
I'm a 55-year-old man. Ask me how I know.
-John Stonebarger, CRANDIC Racing Club
Nothing Says Cyclocross like a Halloween Costume
Save some energy if you race Saturday morning, or get a good warm up if you race later, because at 1:30 Saturday it's game on for the third annual Spooky Cross Costume Race.
"The Costume Race will have the same format as last year with a shortened course and two laps," explained Guiter. "There are three criteria our judges will be looking at in crowning the winner: 1) Your finishing position in the race, 2) Your costume, and 3) Theatrics (your character).
"This will be the third year of the Costume Race and I'm anxious to see if our returning two-time winner will take it again this year. I'm not sure on the algorithm the judges have for determining the winner, but I'm sure it's quite complex."
BIKEIOWA's Jason Scholbrock offered some advice for newcomers to the Costume Race: "Make it fun, make it clever (see Vance Fletcher last year), and make certain you can ride your bike in it.
"Josh Rice from Lincoln won the first two Costume Races and rightfully so... in 2018 he rode a cargo bike disguised as a beer truck a la Smokey and the Bandit, complete with a hefty stash of cold Busch Lights which were consumed on the steep run-up.
"Oh, and I am very much looking forward to it. The Costume Race is the highlight of every Iowa cyclocross season!"
So What's new this year?
This will be the third edition of The Grand, but the first presented by the Phoenix Syndicate. Race Director James Armstead explained: "We are a whole new team this year all from different groups and different experiences. We are really excited about this group coming together to make something really awesome this year. We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, but we found some new great partners to work with who really want to support the community and grow their brands!
It turns out there is plenty new about the race this year. "There has been some great work going on within the local Juniors scene, and we wanted to do our part. To help grow the next generation of racers as much as we can, we created the Garmen Partners Junior Fund, which will allow anyone racing in our Junior races to race for free.
"Stealing a page from Trek Cup, we are going go try and have a decent party area for people to hang out and experience cyclocross even if they aren't racing. We will have free beer, music, and of course awesome cyclocross.
"The changes to the course will also allow us to open up the middle part where the food trucks were last year. We are going to have a few teams have tents there, some food, music, and will hopefully create a really awesome community compound for everyone to come together and have a great time together.
"We are working through ideas for how the course will change day to day, although we aren't 100% sure we are going to "just flip the course" this year. Nothing is off the table!"
Womens' clinic Friday evening
To start out the weekend of racing the Phoenix Syndicate is offering a free women's clinic Friday afternoon. "This idea came out of conversations with people while I was on the BikeIowa team," explained Armstead. "We just never got around to coordinating it all. One of the Phoenix Syndicate's foundations was to make sure we had 30% of our team be women at all times, and with that more and more of our focus has been around how to grow that group and ensure women have a safe place to come learn and experience the sport of cycling.
"The clinic will be a general walk through the course for anyone who is entirely new and wants to ensure they can ride/run all of the obstacles without getting hurt, or even for those who haven't raced in a few years who just want to have a quick look at the course while getting back into it all. Hopefully we see a good turnout!"