Bike riders feel the heat as Jingle Cross kicks off

The Jingle Cross Festival, Iowa City edition, started off in high heat with junior, amateur, and master’s races on the afternoon of Sept. 15.

Cyclocross+riders+roll+down+a+flyover+during+the+first+day+of+Jingle+Cross+at+the+Johnson+County+fairgrounds+on+Friday%2C+Sept.+15%2C+2017.+The+three+day+cyclocross+event+will+host+events+Friday+night%2C+masters+ones+on+Saturday+under+the+lights%2C+and+the+UCI+Telenet+Cyclocross+World+Cup+to+close+out+the+weekend+on+Sept.+17.+Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Bike riders feel the heat as Jingle Cross kicks off

Cyclocross riders roll down a flyover during the first day of Jingle Cross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Cyclocross riders roll down a flyover during the first day of Jingle Cross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Cyclocross riders roll down a flyover during the first day of Jingle Cross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Cyclocross riders roll down a flyover during the first day of Jingle Cross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Sarah Watson, [email protected]

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Racers zipped up their bike suits, clicked in their shoes, and hopped on their bikes as the Jingle Cross Festival kicked off a three-day event Sept. 15 at Johnson County Fairgrounds.

Cyclocross is a sport similar to track’s steeplechase but with bikes. The Jingle Cross Festival draws cyclocross athletes from all over the United States and the world to compete in races all weekend, culminating in the televised Cyclocross World Cup on Sept. 17.

Gears clicking, racers pedaled like mad to start the race, cutting through grass patches and sand. Cyclists hunched over their handlebars, eyeing the hardest part of the race: Mount Krumpit.

Children as young as 9 years old hopped off their bikes and carried it over their shoulders up the 30-degree hill.

“This has got to be one of the toughest courses by far,” Cameron Brimson, 10, of Cedar Rapids said. “This is also one of the coolest ones, because you get to race with kids from around the world.”

“Sometimes when I’m racing, I’m not even concentrating,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out what the other people are saying in a different language.”

Cameron said he has cycled most of his life. For his birthday, he and his family will go up to another cyclocross competition in Wisconsin as a birthday gift.

The junior races started at 1 p.m. and included approximately 75 racers of ages ranging from 9 to 18 years old spread out in five categories.

Paul Swinand, the manager and head coach of Chicago biking group The Pony Shop, said Iowa City offers his cyclists a different perspective.

“I want them to experience cycling in a lot of different ways, whether it’s heat or cold or long races or gravel races or a cyclocross race,” he said. “Going to a big race like this, I think it’s kind of fun, and it teaches you about the rest of the world.”

September is just the beginning of the cyclocross season; the peak is in December and January, Swinand said. The 2017 U.S. Cyclocross National Championship competition was held in January in Hartford, Connecticut. Jingle Cross used to be a race in December, hence the Christmas theme, but the date was moved up to accommodate the Cyclocross World Cup last year, race director John Meehan said.

“This is one of the biggest races and also one of the best courses in the country, and that’s why we come here,” Swinand said. “To us, it’s almost bigger than nationals.”

Swinand not only plays the role of coach, he also competes. On Sept. 17, he raced in the Master Men’s 50-54 competition.

“The strategy in this race is the heat’s going to be a really big factor, so you might not want to go out too hard, because if you’re not used to the heat, you might blow up,” Swinand said.

The weather couldn’t be more different from last year’s races. The temperature reached a peak of 92 degrees on Sept. 17, and the dry grass was a sign it hasn’t rained in weeks. Last year, however, rain muddied the course, and the high for the day was in the low 80s.

For similar conditions, Alicia Gende of medical support said she encourages racers and spectators to “stay hydrated, keep up your salt intake, rest as needed, be careful not to push the limit too hard.”

 

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Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Cyclocross riders compete during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
A rider feeds while climbing Mt. Krumpit during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Announcers call the finish during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
Mark Legg-Compton gets hydrated after finishing second during the first day of Jinglecross at the Johnson County fairgrounds on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The three day cyclocross event will host events Friday night, masters ones on Saturday under the lights, and the UCI Telenet Cyclocross World Cup to close out the weekend on Sept. 17. Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)
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