After Creekside and Bobbers this weekend we have just three more weeks until the Iowa State Championship in Des Moines and five more until the Midwest Championship in Chicago. Days are getting shorter and colder, but there's still some great cyclocross racing ahead, starting November 9 & 10 with either Frosty Cross in Le Mars or a weekend of racing at the Chicago Cross Cup.
Frosty Cross Lives Up to Its Name
"It was so cold last year that I wore all the clothes I brought," said Jacqueline Palfy (Parallel 44 Racing) when asked about Frosty Cross 2018. "And I may or may not have cried a little on my second lap because I couldn't feel my hands. But racing will warm you up quickly.
"As for the course, the stairs never seem to get easier, but they're one of the best features. That along with the little off-camber ridge after the hill make for fun challenges to do better each year and each lap.
"Best of all is the camaraderie inside the lodge, with the fire going, and running into old and new friends. Frosty Cross has a really welcoming atmosphere, and, of course, then you can go into town and have ice cream. Bikes and ice cream in November -- what more do you need?"
Iowa City Cycling Club's Jim Bethea raced Frosty Cross last year too, to take the lead in the 45+ field of the Iowa CX Series. "They call it Frosty Cross for a reason. It was in the 20s and windy last year. I wore every article of clothing I brought and was still cold. Turnout wasn't great, but it was a fun course: some good off-camber, a flyover, and some sand. Masters all raced together and they split it apart for series points after. They need to move that race to September."
Bonus Race at the Chicago Cross Cup
As cold as Frosty Cross can be, that's not the race's only drawback: Le Mars is in the northwestern part of Iowa. That's not too far for Palfy coming from Sioux Falls, but for us Eastern Iowans it's 4½ to 6 hours away. Unless you're especially motivated – like Bethea proving more stubborn than his IACX competition – you might want to look closer to home. Lucky for us November 9 & 10 is also a big weekend for the Chicago Cross Cup.
The Chicago Cross Cup is easily the biggest series in the Midwest. Races are usually just one day, on Sundays. But this year CCC#7, the Groundhog PSI-clocross Sunday November 10, is paired with the Illinois State Championship the day before. To make the weekend all the more attractive, Emricson Park in Woodstock, Illinois, the site of both races, is north and west of Chicago proper, so around 30 minutes closer. From Iowa City that's just over three hours.
"I love Chicago Cross Cup races," said Alijah Beatty of Marian University Cycling. "The courses aren’t as hard as some UCI race courses, but they are great to get some experience under your belt. The CCC series helped me a lot when I was younger. Since the course weren’t too technical I was able to focus on speed and power.
"Last year the Groundhog PSI race was so much fun. It was super muddy, so a great experience in those conditions. One feature was an off-camber downhill into a turn and then a run-up to the top of the hill. I don’t know if this was my favorite feature, but it definitely could make or break your race. The downhill was slippery and if you fell you might have gone off course. Also, the run-up was long enough that you had to have had some running in your training to be prepared for that.
"Last year I rode most of the race off the front, though on the last lap 2nd place was gaining on me. I hadn’t crashed too bad so far and I knew one mistake and she would be right on me. At the end of the course there were some big sweeping turns. Due to them being muddy I slipped and went down. Luckily I had just enough of a gap that she was unable to catch me, but I hustled to the line as fast as I could.
"All in all the Chicago Cross Cup races are great starter races and great for advanced riders to push their bodies and skills to their absolute limit. I would recommend the races to any racer who has a cx bike and loves the mud!"
CCC races are friendly and fun and draw good sized fields. Last year's race in Woodstock, even cold and rainy, saw nearly 500 racers compete. Ten time slots allow for fifteen fields a day, meaning five women's races not counting juniors, finally this year including a Masters Women's category.
Registration for both the IL State Championship and Groundhog PSI-clocross are on BikeReg.com. Consider signing up early, though, as some of the bigger or combined fields can fill up.