Friday Night (Jingle) Lights
By Jared Verbeke | Sep 22, 2017
Race name: Jingle Cross
Race date: Friday, Sep 22, 2017
It’s 12:30pm on Friday when we roll up to the Johnson County Fairgrounds in Iowa City after making the 4hr trip from Chicago that morning. The sun is right above us but it really felt like we were on it. Phone says its 88 degrees out. I unload the tent, chairs, and water before we head back into town to Tiff’s parents house. Still 5 hours till my 6pm race and I don’t want to spend even 5 extra minutes in the heat if I don’t have to.
At 3:30 we head to the course and find the tent setup with Brian, Jessica, Scott and Lauren all hanging out. Most have already raced today and you can tell it by their energy levels. We're all drinking water, taking sodium pills and trying to stay out of the sun. Heat and cross don’t mix at all. I head out for a course inspection lap while still in my street clothes. The course is open but only for 10 minutes so I grab the b bike and hit the course. First thing I notice, the front tire in my ‘b’ bike has almost no air in it, so I try not to crash. After some 180s, a steep flyover and then to Mt Krumpit, an 80ft hill with grades up to 34%. I walk up to save effort. Navigate the steep downhill, sand, and finish the lap off by sliding out in one of the final corners leaving a little skin and taking some dust with me. Now off to find Rob at PSIMET who has a race wheel with a fresh tubular glued on.
I do all that stuff again except faster and with the race bike and without crashing. Win! You really don’t need to warm up when its 90 out, I tell myself, so now I chill till nearly go time.
It's 6pm and time for call ups to start. I get a 4th position call up and front row at Jingle Cross. A special feeling to be up there with such a deep talented field of 60 racers from all over the Midwest. Chicago is here, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, St. Louis. Devo teams with kids that can’t way more than 110 pounds soaking wet. We’re staged behind the 1/2s and they go off first. It’s a long long fast start on gravel that leads to a bumpy, sweeping left hand corner where you could be 8 wide. There’s a crash in the Cat 1s so our start is delayed slightly. I think “I gotta go hard to get a clean start.”
Gun goes off.
Fuck, pedal missed and people going past me.
Kept pedaling hard and passed them back. 10th through the first corner which is not bad and not great but I’ll take it. I see Alex from PSIMET a few wheels up and know that I need to try and stay with the kid. He’s flying right now. Safely navigated the first several 180s which are dusty and actually causing problems in every race. Then, Mt. Krumpit. We hit it and people are going so hard on the run up at the front. I try and stay with them, but in this heat if you go too deep you’ll never come back.
We hit the super fast downhill off Krumpit, I’m in 8th and I just try and keep the weight back. Hit the sand and go full gas, after just going full gas. Only make it 2/3s the way through and run. Back around the pits, over the flyover, up the steep hill, around the bleachers, down the fast tricky off camber, and through the north pole before hitting the start. Oh yeah, one small bobble in the North Pole cost me 5 spots. But I’m in 10th and I’m happy with that. HR check – 185bpm and it hurts. 4 laps to go.
I just start to recover when we hit Mt. Krumpit again. 180pm and climbing. Highest on the day was Krumpit, final lap with HR of 196bpm. It hurts. I keep the bike upright for those 4 laps and pass a couple riders to take 9th. The fields are deeper out here and while I can usually get a gap at CCC, it was tight back and forth racing for all 45 minutes out here in Iowa City. Happy with the result and unhappy that I couldn’t hang with Alex the whole race. He took 3rd. I know who to beat at CCC now.
I’m dusty, coughing, hot and collapse at the end after a fast last lap battle that netted me my fastest lap and a lap that was good enough to be top 4 if sustained. The power and fitness are there, back didn’t hurt which is always a factor, just need to put it all together for a podium.
Till next time,