Johnson County Fairground — Friday, Sept. 15 and Saturday, Sept. 16
Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup races
Johnson County Fairgrounds — Sunday, Sept. 17
Three-time US cyclo-cross national champion Jeremy Powers clears Mt. Krumpit at Johnson County Fairgrounds during the 2016 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup — photo by Matthew Steele
A local tradition meets an international sporting event this weekend when the Johnson County Fairgrounds hosts both the Jingle Cross and Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup races. These cyclo-cross races are unlike any other cycling competition, according to John Meehan, the race director and promoter.
“It’s like the steeplechase of bike racing,” Meehan told Little Village. “One of the things that separates cyclo-cross from other bike races is that there are obstacles where you have to get off the bike and carry it. There’s mud so thick and sand that you can’t ride through it. And such steep hills that you can’t ride it.”
Jingle Cross has been held annually at the fairgrounds since 2003. The fairgrounds also hosted the World Cup last year. It’s unusual for the Switzerland-based Union Cycliste Internationale to select an American city twice to host an event.
“In the 100 year history of the UCI there have only been five World Cup events in North America. That includes the ones being held this year. So, we have two of the five,” Meehan said.
Cyclo-cross is primarily a European sport, but the UCI has been attempting to expand the reach of the sport in North America.
“This is like having the World Series or the Olympic Games in Iowa City. That’s the level of the athletes who will be participating,” Meehan said. “The level of this event is huge. The amount of television spectators we get is 10 times that of the average Iowa Hawkeyes football game.”
Schedule information for the races and related entertainment, and information on where to buy tickets, are available on the Jingle Cross website. Tickets are $5, but anyone with a ticket stub from the Iowa versus North Texas football game will be admitted for free to the World Cup race on Sunday.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.