Iowa bike races make national “must-do” list

Two Iowa bike races are among the top races in the United States that are featured in a special issue of the cycling publication VeloNews.

The Snake Alley Criterium in Burlington, held on May 23; and the 3-day Jingle Cross cylocross event in Iowa City, held Nov. 27-29, are part of the 63 “must-do bike races for 2009,” the magazine says. (The race Web sites aren’t up to date with 2009 info yet, but these links should still work once the 2009 race info is added.)

Of Snake Alley, the magazine says:

Held on a 15-block course, Snake Alley takes its name from a one-block-long climb on the historic brick street named Snake Alley, dubbed “the crookedest street in the world.”  The 276-foot SNake Alley has five switchbacks, an average grade of 12.5 percent and 60 feet of elevation gain. The writing on the pavement one year said it all: “The Snake Bites!”

With 13 categories plus a mountain bike cobbled climb race and kids events, Snake Alley is a full day of fun. Snake Alley isn’t the only race happening in the area over Memorial Day weekend. The race is preceded Fridaynight by the Burlington Road Race and followed over the next two days by the nearby Melon City Criterium and the QUad Cities Criterium.

Insider tip: Repace that 21-tooth cassette with one you’d put on your climbing wheels. And you thought Iowa was flat!

Of Jingle Cross, VeloNews says:

A three-day UCI event, with Friday night held under the lights of Iowa City’s Johnson County Fairgrounds, Jingle Cross is a post-Thanksgiving, Christmas-themed weekend of cyclocross. Expect to see a fully costumed Grinch and dogs dressed up as reindeer on a course that inlcudes the vicious run-up of Mt. Krumpit, the Grinch’s Lair sandpit and the Whoville Whirl, which sends racers in a disorienting number of circles. All race proceeds, rider registration fees and contributions are donated to the Univerity of Iowa Children’s Hospital.

Insider tip: The Johnson County Fairgrounds has indoor showers for a post-race rinse.

I’m definitely excited to check out these two races! For Snake Alley, I’m pretty sure I’ll just be a spectator. Even the beginners’ races are too fast for me. I’m used to solitary riding or else riding with a small group of friends that meets up from town to town. Tightly-packed group rides, or “pelotons” where the riders are clumped together, are too much for me to handle at this point–I’m not comfortable enough yet to ride within a pack. And during races, that pack is in race mode, so I definitely know I’m out of my league.

I did Jingle Cross for the first time last November. You can read all about how tough it was for me here. And here’s some video of the race from fellow cycling enthusiast BJsmith.

For sure, my Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends will be filled with bike-racing action this year!

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~ by davidllee on March 9, 2009.

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