"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