"Dirty Wooden Shoe is one of my favorite 'cross races of the season," said Darian Nagle-Gamm of Iowa City Cycling Club, "I love everything about the course. It has challenging topography and great features such as the "Dutch Letters" ... which might be my favorite cross feature of all time. It also has a nice, flowy recovery zone down the hill weaving between trees that is really fun to ride."
Dirty Wooden Shoe, September 8 & 9, is set on the south shores of Lake Red Rock between Pella and Knoxville. At first glance the wide open, grassy course might not seem particularly technical. But even aside from the beloved Dutch letters, Dirty Wooden Shoe will be sure to test our skills. “Our course has long, power-sucking straights as well as tight, twisty, and technical sections," said Race Director Jacob Oyen of Pella Bike Racing.
Not far past the start a steep off camber 180 will slow all but the bravest riders. Half a lap later a 4x4 turns an otherwise modest uphill into a run-up for anyone unwilling to chance a bunny hop. Just after that, a twisty section ends with another tight off camber turn that betrays foibles nearly every lap. The course has developed over the years to make good use of every slope or natural obstacle. Organizers add some unique man-made barriers as well.
The race itself is challenging and fun, and it's worth remembering with some Dutch-themed prizes. "The wooden shoe awards are also a nice touch," said Darian, "paying homage to the early Dutch settlers. I've never won a coveted wooden shoe, but that doesn't stop me from coming back and trying every year!
"This year I booked an Airbnb so that I can stay overnight and enjoy the area," Darian said. "I want to check out Peace Tree Brewery and take the kids to hang out and enjoy beautiful Lake Red Rock and the surrounding recreation areas."
With both Dirty Wooden Shoe and his work on the Iowa Cyclocross Series, Oyen is always working to promote and grow the sport. At this year's race, a classic for anyone new to 'cross, beginning women and juniors race for just $15 and don't pay a late fee. Everyone else should register online to avoid a $10 hike for day-of registration.