Muddy course marks first day of Jingle Cross competition

Races coincide Saturday with World Cup of cyclocross

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IOWA CITY — Day one of the Jingle Cross bicycle competition at the Johnson County Fairgrounds was characterized by two things — storms and mud.

“I didn’t see it coming,” said Andy Luettgen, a 22-year-old racer from Atlanta.

Late night and early morning storms turned the Jingle Cross-World Cup track into goo and even took out much of the fencing and 1,500 parking spots for the events Friday.

Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that while the mud may make for good cyclocross racing, it isn’t ideal for cars — so visitors should now park on an old runway at the Iowa City Airport.

“It’s been a little challenging to say the least,” Schamberger said. “The plan is in place, it’s just more of a headache than anything else.”

Ingrid Anderson, a 33-year-old racer from Iowa City, said mud isn’t her “preferred condition” but can make for fun competition.

“When it’s muddy, it’s less about a serious hard race and more about trying to survive,” she said.

Cyclocross is a rain-or-shine event. Schamberger said this weekend’s races will be canceled only if extreme lightning occurs.

While World Cup cyclocross athletes who have come to Iowa City from around the globe did nor race Friday, they had a chance to practice on the course.

The annual Jingle Cross competition was moved to this weekend to coincide with the Telenet-UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup that local officials landed and is expected to be broadcast live throughout Europe.

The women’s World Cup race is scheduled to begin at 3:30 Saturday and the men’s will follow at 5 p.m.

Anderson said it is an exciting opportunity to watch professional cyclocross athletes compete on her “home course.”

Iowa City is just one of two World Cup competitions this year in North America — the other being in Las Vegas.

“I watch these European guys on YouTube. To see them in person is super cool,” said racer Tim Cochran, 48, from Iowa City.

Luettgen drove about 13 hours from Atlanta with his friend and fellow competitor Murphy Davis, 27. Davis said he also was excited to see the World Cup races.

“This sort of opportunity doesn’t come around every year,” Davis said.

Jingle Cross still has two more days of competition. A complete schedule can be found on its website. Parking and a ticket together runs $25 Saturday but both are free on Sunday.

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