Cyclo-Cross World Cup concludes a drizzly third-annual Iowa City event

Iowa City played host to the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup this weekend, bringing together cyclists from across the globe.


Nick Rohlman

Riders begin the first Lap of the UCI Elite C1 men’s race on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. The race was the final event in a weekend of professional and amateur cyclocross races held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

Kate Pixley, News Reporter

International flags flew high over muddy ground as Iowa City became an international cycling hub for a weekend.

Ninety-two cyclists and hundreds of spectators from around the globe converged on the Johnson County Fairgrounds from Sept. 28 to Sunday for the Jingle Cross and Telenet Union Cycliste Internationale Cyclocross World Cup.

Cyclocross is a form of off-road bike racing in which participants ride through and over obstacles such as hills or creeks to reach the finish line. Races at Jingle Cross included categories for riders of all ages, genders, and experience levels. They ranged from children’s beginner races to races for experienced riders over 60.

The professional cyclists came from 11 countries and three continents, including America, Europe, and Oceania.

Jingle Cross volunteer Wendy Walker, who hosted three female professional bikers from Belgium, the Netherlands, and England for the weekend, said she appreciates the camaraderie that the cycling community provides.

“It’s been great fun,” Walker said. “Lots of mud. It’s been fun to watch people slip and slide. It’s a friendly group.”

While it was a rainy weekend, she said that from her perspective, attendance was similar to previous years. She plans to volunteer again next year, just as she has for the last several years.

RELATED: A group of gravel bicyclists will compete in this weekend’s Cyclo-Cross event

People dealt with the precipitation the best they could. Attendees wore rain boots as they trekked across the course, trying to get the best view of the action. In between races, bikers cleaned the caked mud off of their bikes at special wash stations around the fairgrounds.

After the races on Sept. 29, competitors and spectators alike took part in the free Jingle Cross Music Festival on the fairgrounds. Revelers of all backgrounds made their way to Mount Krumpit, a hill on the course.

Doug Robertson, a setup volunteer and attendee, viewed the race from the Team Dublin bus, which is associated with Dublin Underground. The vehicle was outfitted with a rooftop viewing area from which spectators could watch the race from folding chairs.

Many attendees took a similar approach, bringing armchairs and couches to tents that covered the fairgrounds. Other spectators watched from the edge of the course, speaking in numerous languages as they watched the bikers zip by.

UCI recently named Iowa City the best Cyclocross World Cup of the 2017-18 season among the nine cities across the United States and Europe in which the cup takes place.

Robertson said the cycling community is fairly closely knit, and he appreciates Jingle Cross because it allows him to catch up with friends.

“I can come out here and see dozens of people I don’t usually see,” he said as his dog, Shadow, sat by his feet. Like many attendees, Robertson has attended Jingle Cross for years and has made friends through the festival.

Ed and Jennifer Veak, who own Beaverdale Bicycles, a bike shop in Des Moines, have participated in Jingle Cross several times before. However, this is their first time attending the World Cup, Ed Veak said.

“It’s fun to watch, and I think it’s good for Iowa City, for the community, and cycling in the state,” Jennifer Veak said.