I tried several years to make it to the Fat Tire Frenzy at Beverly Park in Cedar Rapids. I'm not much of a mountain bike racer – I only started riding MTB a few years ago – but Beverly's trails are local favorites so racing there would be almost as familiar as Sugar Bottom. (From Iowa City Beverly Park is only five minutes further away, and its sandy soils often dry out days before Sugar Bottom's.) Having been foiled previously by nagging injuries or conflicting events, this year I was really looking forward to racing at Beverly...when the Fat Tire Frenzy suddenly disappeared.
The schedule for the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series (IMBCS) appeared in March without a race listed for Beverly Park. Weeks later a new race was added, the Beverly Boondoggle, with the ominous tag "Marathon MTB Only." What? Again, I'm not much on a mountain bike, so working up the nerve to race trails at all can be a challenge, but a marathon? What was going on?
I decided to ask around. It turns out several factors led to the new Beverly Boondoggle, mostly very positive developments, and in hearing about them I learned about the growing trend toward MTB Marathon as well.
"Cash pay-outs, donut trophy podiums, and food trucks -- Yeah, it's going to be ridiculous. We're also offering a 1-hour youth MTB marathon and we've partnered with the Iowa Running Company to offer a 5-mile trail run showcasing some of the park's most aggressive topography. The plan is to return next year with the traditional XC categories plus marathon options. Probably... "
Keeping it simple
The Squaw Creek Enduro last month was also a marathon. "I chose Marathon only for Squaw Creek because it's a simple format to prepare for and manage," said LAMBA's Noel Kehrt. "We were just dipping our toes in the water with a MTB event at Squaw Creek. That park is heavily used by many user groups; it's important to respect that and make a good first impression. A full XC event would take over the park for a whole day, and I'm just not sure we're ready for that yet.
Ryan Bimson (CRCX) plans to race the Beverly Boondoggle with his 11-year-old son Cameron. "Last year the Beverly marathon was my first ever mtb race of any kind. I like that it was more informal and that all abilities rode together. You can make it as challenging as you want or just a fun ride.
"This spring Squaw was coming up and as Cam has been doing more mtb races this year I asked if he would want to do it. I told him it was a 4 hour race, but you just ride as many laps as you can, he could do whatever he wanted to do. I gave him different options to think about, like he could ride for a couple hours and just quit or he could take a 30 min break and ride again, or really however much he felt like riding. I did not ever think he would ride the entire 4 hours plus.
each lap. And nobody but you and the race organizer will know what number lap you’re on. An extra cool thing about the Beverly Boondoggle is that proceeds of this race are going back to non-profits that support the trails and promote cycling advocacy in the area, so it’s an awesome event to support.
"Mountain bikes. Goldfinch. Beverly. LAMBA. All great things!" It’s gonna be a fun day. I’m super pumped to toe the line at the Beverly Boondoggle and while I’m hoping to see all the familiar faces at the start line, I’ll be even more excited to see some new faces out there this year!"