Iowa is home to an up and coming cyclocross bicycle racing scene. Cyclocross, affectionately called "cross" among bikers, is a unique event combining bicycling and running on marked courses. These events are sometimes compared to steeplechase on bicycles, due to barriers that require racers to dismount and carry the bike across. The races take place in parks or public spaces on grass, sand, gravel, and dirt surfaces. Races include different levels of competitors from kids to professional bike racers. Special cyclocross bikes are available from bike builders to include wider tire, mud clearance, and drop bars.
A series of cyclocross races take place across Iowa, usually in the fall and early winter months. The season picks up steam after bicycle road racing and mountain bike racing ends, but there is still plenty of energy left for competition. Weather really makes little difference with competitors preferring muddy or snowy conditions to increase the challenge of the races.
Cyclocross events have been gaining popularity with spectators and racers alike. Cyclocross is a spectator friendly event because fans can watch the most of the action as the event unfolds. The races are known for their party atmosphere, where fans can get up and close to the course to cheer racers with cowbells and horns. Most cyclocross races look like a carnival with food vendors, team buses, and merchandise sales. Events may be held daytime or nighttime under lights.
Jingle Cross in Iowa City is one of the top events and has drawn top level racers from around the world. Recently, Jingle Cross has become sanctioned by the UCI, an international governing body for bicycle racing. The UCI sanctioning has enabled a higher caliber of athletes to attend, increasing competition and the prestige of the event. More information can be found about Jingle Cross at their website.
A schedule of cyclecross races in Iowa can be found at the Bike Iowa website.