It's finally starting to feel like cyclocross season: days are shorter, I'm nearly recovered from RAGBRAI, and we're counting down with just weeks to go. But before you mothball your road bikes, remember that this coming weekend are Iowa's state championships for both road racing and time trialing. Both of these races are worth the trip just south of Iowa City.
Iowa State Road Race Championship
Saturday is the State Road Race Championship starting and finishing in Riverside. Racers compete over one, two, or three 32 mile laps -- up to 96 miles -- of an exposed and sometimes hilly course.
Each lap offers 600 feet of climbing, with much of that in three 100+foot hills lumped from miles 3 to 13. A few shorter pitches of 3 or 4% pop up in the last few miles before a mile-long descent toward Riverside sets up a flat, then a rise to the sprint finish.
It's easy to imagine an attack breaking away on those early hills, but it'll take a very strong climber to hold off the pack and avoid a sprint finish in Riverside.
The route seems flat, with just two noticeable pitches of about 15 feet -- a rise at about 3 miles in and a drop down to the river just before the turnaround. This could fool you, though, as the entire course is gradually downhill, dropping about 45 feet by the turnaround as the route nears the confluence of the Iowa and Cedar rivers. Mess up that negative split and you'll feel that 45 feet of climbing getting home.
Hope for light winds and pace yourself. Can you go under an hour?
As always, thanks to the Iowa City Cycling Club for these two great events!