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!
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. "
"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.
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.
This weekend is the sixth edition of Twisted Cross in Cedar Falls: two days of cyclocross racing, presented by Twisted Spokes Racing Team, at Tondro Pray Bike Park.
An Eastern Iowa favorite, Twisted Cross is well known for two things -- a flat, flowing course and the potential for lots of mud. Fortunately, flooding doesn't seem likely this weekend, but if the forecast holds up the race might not be entirely dry, either. With or without mud, expect a fast course with a sand trap, a series of mole hills, and sets of both tall and short barriers.
Tondro Pray provides Twisted with a perfect course for beginning 'crossers and fast fun for every racer. It's also a great venue for cheering them on.
"Steffoni took over when Joel Mason stepped down," said Cedar Valley Cyclists' Kimberly Breuer. "She got a group of us together to help out. I talked to a few sponsors, did the design work, and posted some stuff on social media."
"We’ve still got an amazing team of volunteers who are helping with the race," said Schmidt, "it’s definitely not just me! I hope the race is fun and people enjoy racing and watching."
"The BIKEIOWA RACING TEAM knows how to put on fun
and exciting events and this one will be no different."
From any other club, about any other event, a boast like this might come off as false bravado. But take a minute to unpack Capital City Cross, two days of Des Moines cyclocross this coming weekend, and it looks more like an understatement.
Here are five quick reasons not to miss Capital City Cross.
BIKEIOWA is the premier bike advocate for racers in Iowa, bar none. Their website is a welcome resource to all cyclists, a showcase for any event, and a gateway to toeing the line. While bike racers have a reputation for taking themselves too seriously, BIKEIOWA events are low-key and friendly, competitive but always fun.
2. Stone Park
A lot of great race venues have histories. Capital City's Stone Park is no exception. Renegade Cyclocross, the largest cx practice in the state, once roved the Des Moines area each week from park to park. When it grew to the point that that became impractical, the city offered up Stone Park as a more permanent home. The unassuming 8-acre park just south of downtown Des Moines has been home to both Renegade Cyclocross and Capital City Cross ever since. By now BIKEIOWA knows how to make the most of it.
3. Fast, Fun, & Spectator-friendly
Other than a hillside to the south, Stone Park is small and flat, offering a great view of the race from pretty much anywhere. It's a welcoming venue for less experienced racers and the spectators that come to heckle and cheer them on. "Look for tons of great vantage points to cheer on your favorite racers or just chill and watch the action."
The course is not intimidating, even to beginners. Mostly fast and flowy, with challenging turns and barriers. It's a great first race to try out cyclocross.
4. The Brae
There are some more technical bits on the hillside to the south, "the brae," but nothing that elicits "hell no." Short climbs and descents, an obstacle or two, a long off camber. The hillside serves up a lot of Stone Park's best cyclocross action.
As a bonus, one part of the brae often offers mud even on drier race dates. Unreliable sources from BIKEIOWA explained that it's from a septic problem in the neighborhood above, but for all of our sakes we'll just assume they were joking.
5. Des Moines
Years ago Capital City Cross helped launch the Central Iowa Cyclocross scene, even though BIKEIOWA never set out to make it much more than a fun local event. Still, this is Des Moines, with quick access from Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri, and Minnesota. Capital City Cross is well known in the Midwest, and draws competition we don't often see in Eastern Iowa. Minneapolis or Kansas City is a long trip for a 40 minute race, but at Capital City Cross you can meet some racers part way.
Don't miss Capital City Cross.
Stone Park is just less than two hours from Cedar Rapids, even less from Iowa City. Right now the weather for race weekend looks pleasant enough, with highs in the 70s and 80s and overnight lows at near-cyclocross temps of high 40s and low 50s.
Good news! The weather this week is looking less and less like rain, so we'll likely be racing cyclocross in Upper City Park at Iowa City Community Cross Tuesday evening.
For a weeknight "practice race," Community Cross can draw quite the crowd. And for very good reasons.
Iowa City Community Cross 2021
Register now at BikeReg.com.
Cochran agreed. "It’s a well designed course with challenging hills and off cambers. A variety of surfaces. Sometimes it's super hot, and sometimes it's super muddy.
With the Iowa State Cyclocross Championship just around the corner you might assume that the 2019 cyclocross season is all but over. But before 'Cross Words signs off for the season we want to point out some fun yet to come this year and maybe even get you thinking about CX2020.
Late Saturday afternoon, right after State, the Iowa Cyclocross Series will do podiums for the series just down the street at Brightside Aleworks in Altoona. If the series included Women Masters we'd be there for sure. If you're in contention or want to cheer on those who are make your way to Brightside Aleworks.
If you're jonesing to race the weekend after Thanksgiving you won't have too many choices. That Sunday, Region Riot CX in Crown Point, Indiana is the only race within 300 miles of Eastern Iowa. For a full weekend of racing – UCI C2 no less – check out the 10th edition of Ruts-n-Guts in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. That's over 500 miles away, probably 8 or so hours of driving. On the bright side, it's likely to be warmer there.
photos courtesy of SnowyMountain Photography
Of course, if money is no object (nor time, nor travel) why not head out to Tacoma, Washington December 10-15 for the 2019 National Championship? There is no better competition, and every serious 'cross racer should make it to Nationals one year or another. If not now, when? (More on that below, actually...)
If you can't make it to Nationals but you still haven't had enough, consider joining the Chicago Cuttin Crew Sunday, December 15 for Afterglow – A Cyclocross Race at Douglas Park in Chicago. This one last taste of cyclocross is not part of the ChiCrossCup (so warning: no Women Masters field!) but since 2010 has offered a fast, friendly, fun finale to the season.
CX2020 is only 8 months away
Despite our best efforts, the 2019 cyclocross season will eventually come to a close. Before it does, let's be clear: it's not too soon to be thinking about CX2020. Why?
For starters, the end of the season is the perfect time to reflect on your ride and make plans for next year. Could your bike handling be better? Grab the mountain bike and hit the trails. CX skills lacking? Drill your starts, dismounts, and carries. Fitness an issue? The "off-season" is the perfect time to shed some pounds, if you're properly motivated.
In large part that motivation comes from planning, so think it through and set some goals. Same thing with bike maintenance and travel plans: once 'cross season hits you won't have much time to spare, so get on it now.
There's a lot of uncertainty brewing about our CX2020, stirred by controversy way over in Northern Europe. A radical redefinition of the UCI's World Cup would involve 16 races running every Sunday from October 11 to January 24. What does that mean for us?
Most likely the new World Cup schedule would preclude World Cup races in the US. Without WC status Jingle Cross and Trek CXC will continue, but may move around the calendar, meaning every schedule in the Midwest is now up in the air.
To make matters worse, that schedule for the World Cup interferes with US Nationals in December. It may even mean that all national championships will eventually be pushed way back to February. Brrr!
Keep an eye out, or better yet check back here or on the CRANDIC Calendar. When we know more you'll know more.
We may not know dates for months to come, but we do know of some truly exciting races for CX2020. Jingle Cross and Trek CXC will be back at some point. FayetteCross will be better than ever as its organizers prepare to host Cyclocross Worlds in 2022. And Ruts-n-Guts down in Oklahoma will return, just in case you need to work on your late season form...
and Best of all
Next year the 2020 Cyclocross Nationals will take place December 8-13 in DuPage County outside of Chicago. That's just three hours from Eastern Iowa, the closest Nats have come since a two-year stint near Madison in 2012 and 2013.
Start shaving your points, cyclocross fans – we're going to Nationals!