Cyclocross Day finally arrives in Iowa City

Mud+pools+below+Mount+Krumpit+at+the+Johnson+County+fairgrounds+before+the+Cyclocross+World+Cup+on+Thursday%2C+September+22%2C+2016.+Crews+planned+to+work+all+night+to+prepare+the+track+after+rain+soaked+the+course+for+opening+races+at+8+A.M.+Friday.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FJoseph+Cress%29

Mud pools below Mount Krumpit at the Johnson County fairgrounds before the Cyclocross World Cup on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Crews planned to work all night to prepare the track after rain soaked the course for opening races at 8 A.M. Friday. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

By Pete Ruden

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It’s finally time. After months of anticipation and preparation by cyclists and fans, the Union Cycliste Internationale Cyclocross World Cup event will begin today in Iowa City.

With athletes coming from all around the world, locals will be able to represent Iowa City and show what the city has to offer, as well as show what they can do on the track. With support from the city and plenty of volunteers, those close to the event are excited.

“It’s a real exciting opportunity [to represent Iowa City,]” said local cyclist Kevin McConnell, who will compete in the Men’s Elite Division. “It’s been great. There’s been so much time and effort that goes in to making the event happen … We’ll show the world a good time.”

With such a big event coming to town, the athletes have to be prepared and ready to go. Local cyclist and manager of World of Bikes Bryan Wenzel said most cyclocross competitors will carry over fitness that has been developed throughout the year from mountain-bike or road racing.

As opposed to running or triathlons, where there might only be a few races, people in bike racing can do a lot of volume in their races and workouts, said local racer Ingrid Anderson, who will race at the event.

With mountain and road seasons going from March through August, riders must be able to maintain their fitness for the cyclocross season as well, she noted.

“A lot of preparation is doing a lot of races,” she said. “Doing group rides and other structured ride training to try to put in a lot of miles.”

While athletes have prepared for their races, volunteers have prepared for the event itself. From registering teams and riders to getting the course ready for races, volunteers have played a huge role to help the event be successful.

“One of the really great things about Jingle Cross is that it’s run essentially by all volunteer work,” Anderson said. “The Iowa City community and cycling community really comes together and puts in a lot of volunteer hours to get the course ready, and to sign up volunteers, and to make sure everything is ready.”

Even though competing in an event such as Cyclocross is definitely a unique experience, that is not the only thing the athletes are looking forward to this weekend.

Many of the local racers are also excited to watch the World Cup races that will take place on Saturday, with the women’s race at 3:30 p.m., followed by the men’s race at 5 p.m. Those races are the ones that the best in the world will compete in, making Saturday intriguing for all athletes and spectators.

“I definitely think I’m looking forward to watching the races on Saturday,” Wenzel said. “Seeing some of the world’s best cyclocross racers in person. For a cyclist, it’s like seeing Michael Jordan play, that kind of thing. You might see your cyclocross hero or anything.”

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