The 10th annual Jingle Cross will take place this weekend at the Johnson County Fairgrounds. Jingle Cross is an International Cycling Union (UCI)-sanctioned cyclo-cross race. Since it was started back in December of 2004, Jingle Cross has become one of the largest cyclo-cross events in the North America, drawing professional cyclists from around the world.
Cyclo-cross is different from other, more traditional forms of bicycle racing in that it places obstacles like logs or rocks in front of competitors, forcing them to carry their bikes through sections of the course. According to local cyclist Tara Coady, friendly heckling is also a big part of the sport.
“During the race itself people will try to offer you a beer to drink while you race. People will put a dollar bill in a can and see if you’ll try to stop and grab the bill. They’ll tease you and kind of give you a hard time while you’re racing,” she said.
Coady says Jingle Cross is a good for those unfamiliar with cyclo-cross because it showcases talented cyclists from around the world, but also offers a wide range of non-cycling-related activities to spectators.
“It’s like a huge party for three days. People get so excited to go. You race your bike and then there’s a dance party and a band. There’s stuff going on all over the course. It’s just a lot of fun.”
Though Coady has raced at Jingle Cross before, this will be her first time competing as a non-beginner, meaning she has to ride down the notorious “Mt. Krumpit.”
Mt. Krumpit in all its glory:
“It’s this huge hill at the Johnson County Fairgrounds,” Coady said of Mt. Krumpit. “I’m kind of scared, but I think it will be fun.”
If you’re feeling apprehensive about taking on the course for the first time, Coady has some advice:
“Don’t worry about being last. Don’t worry about crashing or whatever else because it doesn’t matter. A lot of times with cyclo-cross, the people who are doing worst in the race get cheered more than the people in the lead. People are so supportive.”
Jingle Cross volunteer Anne Duggan has been watching cyclists traverse the course for the past five years, and looks forward to seeing how it will be laid out this year.
“Being this time of year it’s always snowy or rainy or somewhere in between, and seeing the cyclists come sliding around the course is always a lot of fun,” Duggan said.
Duggan says Jingle Cross is an important late-fall event for local cycling groups because it gives them a chance to get together and have a good time while giving back to the community. In addition to hosting a race for kids aged 5-10 and working with groups like the Youth Off-Road Riders, proceeds from this year’s event will go to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.
Jingle Cross starts Friday at 3:30 p.m. and continues through Sunday. Check out the full schedule here. Admission is free.