Iowa City will again host two international cyclo-cross events, plus a dog race and ‘wine walk’

Jingle Cross

Johnson County Fairground — Friday, Sept. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 30

Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup races

Johnson County Fairgrounds — Saturday, Sept. 29

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

The Telenet UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup and Jingle Cross Cyclo-Cross Festival return to the Johnson County this weekend, for three days of everything from champion-level cycle racing to a leisurely stroll for wine lovers.

In a cyclo-cross race, cyclists race on off-road courses that provide a series of challenging surfaces (often mud or sand) and multiple obstacles. According to race director John Meehan, the World Cup cyclists are competing at a level similar to Olympic athletes.

Although it has a growing following in the United States, cyclo-cross is still primarily a European sport, in the century since the Swizterland-based Union Cycliste Internationale was founded, only five World Cup events have been held in North America. Two of those were in Iowa City, and after this weekend, half of all the North American competitions will have taken place at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

“In 2017, Iowa City was voted the best cyclo-cross World Cup event by athletes and cycling’s governing body,” Meehan said in a press release. “We aim to build on last year’s world-class event by dialing up the amenities and events while still being gracious hosts to professional and amateur athletes from across the country and around the world.”

The men’s and women’s World Cup races are scheduled for Saturday, at 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

Jingle Cross, with races featuring cyclists at a variety of levels, has been held annually at the fairgrounds since 2003. As in previous years, the three-day festival will also feature music, beer, as well as many family-friendly activities. For those who prefer their racing on four feet instead of two wheels, there will be the Doggy Cross races at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday. And this year there will a new, slow-paced event — the World Cup Wine Walk. The walk begins at 10:30 a.m., and last as long the supply of wines from around the world does.

Information about all the events can be found on the Jingle Cross Festival website. Admission is free.

“Even if you don’t know anything about cyclo-cross, we are sure you’ll find something to enjoy,” Meehan said.