IMBCS Racer Spotlight: Emily Robnett

It’s time for a new racer Spotlight for all to read. This weekend brings up the second IMBCS race of our season: The Beverly Park Fat Tire Frenzy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa!

In case you’ve missed any of our previous Spotlights here at, we continue with our feature series of highlighting some of the many IMBCS participants throughout the state of Iowa. You can get to know some of the folks involved in racing and see how they do it, why they do it, what got them started, and read some of their thoughts. We will continue this feature throughout the season. You might be next, so check your email box for a Spotlight interview! Spotlights will attempt to provide a nice representation of ages, categories, and locations to introduce you to people you may or may not know so you can read their thoughts about racing mountain bikes. Are you considering racing in an IMBCS event this year? You don’t have to be a member of a team. You don’t have to have an expensive bike. You don’t have to have matching socks. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, a seasoned veteran, male, female, young, old, tall, less tall – mountain biking in IMBCS events is open to everyone. We will show that in our Spotlight series and encourage you to sign up for a race and give IMBCS a try.

Today’s Spotlight features one of the 2013 IMBCS Series Winners, Emily Robnett.


I first remember seeing Emily race during the last lap of a race at the Summerset Shootout in 2013. I emerged from the section of trail called Riverside and sprinted on the pavement alongside Jason Plunkett to catch up to Emily who we saw in front of us before we entered the Extra Credit section. Jason managed to jump in front of her just a split second before we went into Extra Credit, and I followed right on her wheel. She was bound and determined to get on the podium that day based on how she ripped through Extra Credit.

Here we are tackling the section called Extra Credit back in 2013…


Emily has her own blog for those interested in following her racing adventures. Let’s meet this CAT I racer right here and now…

Name: Emily Robnett

Current Home: Iowa City

Age: 29

Employer: The University of Iowa

Racing Category for 2015: CAT I for XC MTB, CAT III for Road and ‘Cross

Race Bike(s): 2014 Yeti Arc Carbon (650b), 2014 Specialized S-works Amira Road Bike, and 2015 Specialized Carbon Crux CX Bike.

Bike Team: University of Iowa Heart and Vascular Center-Specialized (formerly Mercy-Specialized, but we have a new title sponsor for this year!)


BB: What’s your favorite idea of a great mountain bike ride here in Iowa?

Emily: Really anywhere that has singletrack. I’m lucky to have Sugar Bottom close by and several trail systems not far away in the Quad Cities.

BB: When did you start racing mountain bikes?

Emily: I did my first mountain bike race in 2011. It was less than a year after I started riding and was such a great experience. I had so much fun. It wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected it to be.

BB: What kind of race results and series results for the IMBCS did you have in prior seasons?

Emily: Two years ago in 2013, I won the women’s CAT I Division of the IMBCS. Last year I raced quite a bit in both Iowa and Illinois and ended up winning the Illinois series. Since I spread my racing out between two states, I did not complete enough races in the IMBCS to be eligible for the Iowa series last year.


BB: What are your goals for this year with regard to your mountain bike racing?

Emily: I don’t have a clearly defined goal for the season other than to work hard and keep making improvements. I am hoping to compete in both the Iowa and the Illinois series this year, but that’s a lot of racing especially when I mix in road and ‘cross!

BB: What has been your favorite race venue to date in the IMBCS?

Emily: Sugar Bottom! It’s my home course so I may be a little biased, but I love these trails. There is a nice mix of fast and flowy singletrack, technical sections, and climbs to keep things interesting and challenging.

BB: Emily, in preparing for the 2015 racing season, how many hours a week do you train? (Minimum, Maximum, Average)

Emily: Not nearly enough! I hate riding the trainer as much as I hate cold weather, so training in the off season is hard. Other than during the winter, I probably range from 5-10 hours a week.

BB: Have you ever had something happen during a race that prevented you from finishing?

Emily: Unfortunately, yes. I’m not one to give up – I’ve finished a race on a cracked seat post after a particularly nasty crash, but sometimes there isn’t anything you can do. I’ve had to DNF (Did Not Finish) a couple times when my bike absolutely prevented me from finishing. I sheared a derailleur off once by getting too close to a tree branch sticking out from the side of the trail. I also had a fluke once where my pedal came off (the threading was messed up and it wouldn’t go back on). It sucks, but makes you appreciate all the times that you finish!

BB: Do you use a coach?

Emily: I don’t. I’m sure it would be very advantageous though! I’ve used group rides as my main training tool.

BB: Do you strength train as part of your training?

Emily: Typically no. This winter was an exception though and I signed up for semi-private personal training with a group of friends. I needed something to keep me active since I hate riding a trainer!

BB: What do you like about the Iowa cycling community in terms of mountain bike racing?

Emily: The people are outstanding! I’ve grown to know most of the Iowa mountain bike racers and while the competition is tough, everyone is friendly and supportive of each other. Everyone likes to hang out and socialize post-race. In addition to the racers, the  volunteers, race organizers, and spectators are some of the friendliest people I’ve met. And there are so many people in the community that are trying to better mountain biking and cycling in general for everyone. There is a way for everyone to get involved from trail building, trail maintenance, race promoting to simply encouraging new people to enter the sport. I’ve met all of my friends from biking, from going on local group rides, racing, and being a part of the Iowa City Cycling Club as well as sitting on the women’s committee.


BB: What would you say as words of encouragement to folks out there who are trying to make the decision to race a mountain bike in Iowa or not?

Emily: Definitely give it a try! I was on the fence initially about racing and am so glad that I gave it a shot. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It may sound cheesy, but I really can’t begin to describe how much racing has changed my life for the better. It makes riding even more fun, provides a challenge, and is really rewarding and confidence building– you just have to imagine how awesome you feel crossing that finish line!

Editor’s Note: Not to worry, Emily – we like cheese! Here’s Emily making a little bit with her husband Aaron…


BB: Thank you so much for the interview, Emily! We wish you all the best for your 2015 racing!

There you have it folks! Another fascinating interview featuring one of our racers here in Iowa, telling us how she got started, and sharing her thoughts. It’s fun to read about her enjoyment of the sport in our Spotlight series here at If you haven’t met Emily yet, please make sure to say hello to her next time you see her at a race.


Recap for IMBCS racing this weekend: Beverly Park Fat Tire Frenzy in Cedar Rapids, Iowa hosted by LAMBA. The event at Beverly Park was a blast back in 2012. Trust me – we are happy to have it back on the schedule this year. You don’t want to miss this one. Noel Kehrt and the entire LAMBA crew have been working overtime for us. Hop in the car this weekend with your racing gear to toe the line, enjoy the trails, and socialize after the race.

In addition to our traditional length XC racing categories of CAT I, COMP, CAT II, CAT III, Juniors – there will also be a Marathon Category to get the ball rolling for the endurance junkies who like to play in the dirt longer than the rest of us. This particular marathon race will be in the format of a 40 mile endurance race. You have to finish all 40 miles to get a timed result. Our endurance racing sponsor, Hammer Nutrition, is providing product for all of the endurance racers in the Marathon Category on Sunday.

What’s not to like? Good weather. A great course. A LAMBA hosted event. Go ahead and grab a friend or two to bring along. Grab a family member or two to bring along. Grab a kid to bring along for the kids race. Figure out a carpool to and from the race to save on costs and get to know somebody a bit better to boot. Post up on the Facebook IMBCS page if in need of a carpool spot. Or if you have an extra spot in your road buggy, post up. Connect. Meet people. Enjoy the social aspect. It’s time to experience the thrill of XC and Marathon racing right here in Iowa.

IMBCS is ready and waiting for you…