Jingle Cross rolls into Iowa City again

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Jingle Cross rolls into Iowa City again

Katie Compton of Wilmington, Delaware climbs Mount Crumpit during the Volkswagen UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Elite Women race at Jingle Cross in the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 25, 2016. Iowa City was the second city in the United States to host a cyclocross World Cup event after Las Vegas. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Katie Compton of Wilmington, Delaware climbs Mount Crumpit during the Volkswagen UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Elite Women race at Jingle Cross in the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 25, 2016. Iowa City was the second city in the United States to host a cyclocross World Cup event after Las Vegas. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Katie Compton of Wilmington, Delaware climbs Mount Crumpit during the Volkswagen UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Elite Women race at Jingle Cross in the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 25, 2016. Iowa City was the second city in the United States to host a cyclocross World Cup event after Las Vegas. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Katie Compton of Wilmington, Delaware climbs Mount Crumpit during the Volkswagen UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Elite Women race at Jingle Cross in the Johnson County Fairgrounds on Sunday, September 25, 2016. Iowa City was the second city in the United States to host a cyclocross World Cup event after Las Vegas. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Sarah Watson, [email protected]

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Cyclists of all experience levels will pour into Iowa City this weekend for the Jingle Cross Festival, which will finish with the Cyclocross World Cup on Sept. 17.

In Cyclocross, athletes race across mud and sand, power up grassy hills, navigate steep descents, and hurdle obstacles on a 2-mile course — on bicycles. This weekend’s Jingle Cross Festival will host more than 65 amateur races, two additional nights of professional races, live music, and a Beers and Gears festival culminating in the televised World Cup on Sept. 17 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

Iowa City will be the opening site of a nine-race series, the Cyclocross World Cup. The top cross-country cyclists in the world are selected by their country’s National Cycling Federation to compete in the televised event.

“The best way to think of this is like having Game 1 of the World Series, but it’s even bigger than that because it’s a true global series,” race director John Meehan said.

On Sept. 17, all ticket holders to the Iowa/North Texas football game will get free entry in the Jingle Cross Festival and the World Cup with their ticket stubs to watch the event.

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“In the sport of cyclocross, this is the best of the best. We have over 100 European pros who have flown in Tuesday and Wednesday,” said Josh Schamberger, the president of the Iowa City and Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Approximately 8 million to 9 million people in Europe will tune in to the race, Meehan said.

Three years ago, Schamberger and Meehan flew to Belgium to present Iowa City’s bid to host the next two years’ Cyclocross World Cup. A few months later, the governing body notified the pair that Iowa City would become the second North American city to host the World Cup, Las Vegas being the first.

“We’re well known for Mount Krumpit,” volunteer Ryan Jacobsen said, “It’s the name given to the hill behind the fairgrounds. Bicyclists carry their bikes up this giant hill, and once they get to the top, they have to navigate an incredibly steep descent.”

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The Jingle Cross weekend will kick off today with amateur races starting at 11:15 a.m. and professional women’s and men’s races at 7:30 p.m., the first night of the Beers and Gears Festival, and Mount Krumpit DJ Entertainment.

Today and Saturday will be free admission and parking, and spectators can enjoy food, beer and watch amateur races all day and two professional races each night.

Sept. 17 is reserved for specialty races before the World Cup and has a $5 entry fee. In one new race, Maxx’s Doggy Cross, pet dogs and their owners will race, roll over, and crawl through Maxx’s Dog House to win the Golden Doggy Bowl gift pack.

Although Coralville resident and former Olympic cyclist Jason McCartney has hung up his helmet in the professional world of cycling, he looks forward to helping with one of the amateur events at Jingle Cross, the Cross-Gravel Grinder and Fondo.

Although McCartney represented the USA Olympic team in road racing in 2004 and 2008, and has biked all over the world, he said there’s nothing quite like watching a world-class event in your own backyard.

“Now, it’s kind of a way for me to give back,” McCartney said. “I’ve been all over the world, and just riding in these events, I didn’t see this side of it: the way the whole cycling community comes together.”

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