IOWA CITY – Iowa (KWWL) The best of the best international racers will be in eastern Iowa to compete for the World Cup but this isn’t your typical bicycle race.
For the third year in a row, Iowa City is the host of one of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup races. Cyclo-cross is a form of a bicycle race that is off-road and involves twists such as steep hills and ramps.
The race is being hosted on the Jingle Cross course on the Johnson County Fairgrounds.
It’s not meant to be easy or for the faint of heart.
“You go up these steep hills through the mud, through the sand,” John Meehan, the race director said. “It’s kind of like NASCAR on a bicycle. You pick it up, carry it over barricades.”
Meehan added that there are pit stations for bike and wheel changes through the course.
Iowa City will host the world cup during its three-day Jingle Cross Cyclo-Cross Festival begins Friday and runs through Sunday. The course is two miles long and racers will round it several times. The men’s world cup race is an hour, with the women’s race lasting 45 minutes. Those races will happen on Saturday.
“Every nation sends their best athletes. This is an Olympic-level event. These are Olympic-level athletes,” Meehan said.
Meehan said one of the most famous course details of all Cyclo-cross courses is Mt. Krumpit. It’s one of the qualities that earned them bragging rights as the best course in the World Cup series, last year. The series has nine stops, seven are in Europe. Waterloo, Wisconsin is the only other stop in the United States.
According to Meehan, the Jingle Cross event is the biggest Cyclo-cross event in North America.
Over the course of the weekend, there will be 80 races from amateurs, professionals to kids.
“[It’s] really cool that I’m going to see, like, the best of the best,” Henry Walsh said.
Walsh and his family traveled from Colorado for him to compete.
“The course is amazing, probably the hardest course I’ve ever been on,” he said.
Walsh’s father, Ed, who doesn’t race Cyclo-cross, was tugged along for the ride.
“It was amazing to me that he was interested in it. It’s so intense and for a little kid to think this is fun, carrying your bike up a giant hill in the mud. I guess I see why they think the mud part is fun,” he said.
Meehan said the Jingle Cross Festival is much more than just the races and spectating.
On Saturday night, Pork Tornadoes will perform a free show from 5-8 p.m. Other events happening during it is a Doggy Cross, a wine walk and an Oktoberfest celebration.
Admission is free. All proceeds from the event go to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
More details about the event can be found here.