IMBCS Season 2016 by the Numbers…

2016 was another very successful IMBCS mountain bike racing season. Our 14th season to be exact. Once you see our participation numbers below, you can take a look and see how they compare to our prior 13 seasons right HERE.

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Congratulations to each and every racer who tossed their leg over a mountain bike to give Iowa’s dirt a chance with your competitive spirit and effort!!

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This season, we saw a few changes for IMBCS when compared to prior years. The main change this year was having all events sanctioned under USA Cycling for the first time in our 14 season history which we announced HERE. We had USA Cycling Officials at each and every event this year, and some rules were enforced that are designed to increase safety and enable fairness to our competitive sport. Thank you to USA Cycling and all of the officials that officiated our events. Jeff Mertz was instrumental in meeting with me and discussing all things related to USA Cycling for our series. Our regional representative, Larry Martin, was very helpful in guiding me, and all of our race directors as we migrated to the USA Cycling format, online registration, one day licenses, and the post event race reporting process. We also had a USA Cycling State Championship at the Whiterock Conservancy Liberty Bell Cup.

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Another change this year was a coordinated effort to work closely with Iowa Bicycle Racing Association to schedule our events. This resulted in having to confine our mountain bike racing season on the 2016 calendar in order to make way for Cyclocross racing. The exciting addition for Iowa of the Jingle Cross event becoming a World Cup meant it was moving from December to the September 23-25th weekend. That started a domino effect for the September/October schedule, and resulted in an adjusted 2016 racing schedule. The dates for what had become our usual September and October Fall MTB races in our prior season’s history were no longer available. Since so many racers participate in both mountain bike racing and cyclocross racing, I felt it was in our best interest as a series to work with IBRA to coordinate the MTB and Cyclocross schedules. As all promoters found out, there are only so many weekends available in the season for road, mountain biking, gravel, and cyclocross events – and we did the best we could to mitigate double booking and conflicts. Of the 29 – 30 weekends from April to mid October available (time frame for mountain biking in Iowa based on weather) giving us a total of 58-60 days to choose between – if you include choosing either a Saturday or a Sunday – IMBCS booked 11 of those days. I think that is a fair amount to utilize as it was only 18% of the possible race days available to host a race between April and October with the other 47 – 49 days available for the other cycling disciplines in Iowa of Road, Gravel, and Cyclocross in the same time frame.

The season had Thrills!

Thrills

$1 for every racer at each IMBCS event went to IBRA for the training and support of officiating here in Iowa. IMBCS also became a wing of IBRA with this season acting as our inaugural year. Rose Ayers, Karie Gilson, Nicolas Eckermann, Jason Dal, and myself all took the USA Cycling Official’s Training Course earlier this year along with others. Rose and Karie have both already donned their USA Cycling uniforms and are officiating events. The rest of us – including me – have yet to finish up all of the online sequence and get to our first apprenticeship races. Our goal was to increase the pool of officials available for officiating our mountain bike races – as well as other cycling disciplines here in Iowa.

The season had Spills!

Spills

We tried our first IMBCS standalone marathon event with the Sugar Cubed event at Sugar Bottom. This gave the opportunity for many who raced in the traditional XC categories during the season to have a go at a 4 hour marathon event. We had 74 racers toe the line which was a very successful event, and in fact marks our largest field in a marathon event to date. Expect to see even more of this standalone format next season to provide dual opportunities for Iowans and their mountain bikes.

The other change for the 2016 season was the advent of the IMBCS Youth Entry Fee Fund to help fund entry fees for all racers age 18 and under at our events. A full financial report on that very successful endeavor is upcoming in a subsequent post, but suffice it to say that our age 18 and under racers enjoyed racing in all of our events this year without having to pay an entry fee. The hope is this will increase participation of our age 18 and under racers here in Iowa. The largest turnout was at Illiniwek where we had 31 age 18 and under racers take advantage of the free entry. Thank you to all of those who contributed to this fund!!!

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Now, on to some of the data for 2016…

Ma Nature – as usual – played her coy hand all season long which left us dealing with the cards we were dealt. Unlike last year where we were able to reschedule and hold every event that was on our schedule, this year we had to employ a little Kenny Rogers The Gambler knowhow and know when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em. This meant that Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy, Summerset Shootout, and Ingawanis Woodland Shredfest all had to be rescheduled (although Summerset was only a one day delay), and we had to entirely scratch the Ewing Park Slam this year as a suitable make-up date simply could not be found with the overly crowded August MTB race schedule, and the very full Fall Cyclocross calendar. Therefore, our season was shortened by one event this year compared to last year thanks to the falling tears from the sky. Had we been able to hold the Ewing Park Slam – we would have easily surpassed our 2015 participant numbers.

Needless to say, the rest of the events were all very successful, fun, well run, and provided a festival atmosphere with plenty to offer all ages, spectators, and participants. Kudos to the 2016 IMBCS Advisory Board for helping guide myself, Rob Cook, and Cam Kirkpatrick to deliver an experience here in Iowa for mountain bikers of all ages, and all abilities to get out and enjoy racing in our very own state. It takes a team to put it all together. So thank you TEAM!

Here’s Rob Cook doing his course marshaling duties in his version of a golf cart at the Summerset Shootout…

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Thank you to Rob for all of your work on the Series Points, interfacing with race directors for the results, helping land new beverage sponsors, and working hard to help make IMBCS better for all racers here in Iowa. Between the two of us, we were able to get the Oskar Blues beer and the World of Wheels cash to each event in a timely fashion this year. Coolers? Check. Beer? Check. Ice? Check. Banners? Check. Cash in the envelopes? Check.

And Rob still has fun on a bike (notice I didn’t mention the aftermath of this picture when he pulled a Robbie)…

PullingArobbie

Thank you to Katherine Roccasecca for keeping poised and ready to update our Race Event pages on the website (at all wee hours as we dealt with weather, delays, reschedules, etc), and organizing all of the excellent photo albums from all of the photographers who submitted photos this year (Janice Jedlicka, David Krohse, Eric and Katherine Roccasecca, Hanson Photo Design, Angy Snoop, Adam and Shelly Bumpus, Karl Bengston, Rob Cook, Mary McInnis, and many others – thanks to all!!!!).

Katherine raced our marathon events this year in the series…

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Thanks to Eric Roccasecca for keeping the website working and bug free, as well as his photography. He also raced the marathon events this year in the series…

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The 2016 Season began in April with the always fun filled wooden berms at the Illiniwek Abermination…

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And ended in August with a succulent 139 pound roasted hog for all to enjoy at the Mullet Fall Classic. IMBCS Co-Director Cam Kirkpatrick and my wife Tara Starr sampling the beast to make sure it met proper standards. Thanks to both of you for guiding me and keeping me focused this year!

Hog

Thank you to our Title Sponsor, World of Wheels for their generosity and support. They put up an amazing amount of $5000 which was all paid out in cash prizes to Marathon, COMP, CAT II, and CAT III racers ($500 per race). If your car is in need of service in the Des Moines area, contact Andy Peterson to schedule an appointment as a way to say thank you and to support this generous sponsor. Or if you are looking for a special car or truck to purchase – contact World of Wheels and tell them IMBCS sent you! I know they will take good care of you. I will also be creating a Facebook album of as many of our World of Wheels cash podium winners as I can find with the hopes that all of those that won cash will chime in with a word of thanks. Then I can link that album and those words of thanks to our 2016 Title Sponsor World of Wheels to share our appreciation for their sponsorship.

We would also like to extend our thanks to Oskar Blues Brewery and Luke Johnson for their sponsorship and providing the refreshing adult beverages. If you liked the beer, make sure you order one at restaurants that serve them here in Iowa – or pick up a case at Hy-Vee to quench your Fall and Winter thirst as you unwind from the 2016 season. If you need to use the Oskar Blues Beer Finder to figure out where you can get some good suds here in Iowa, it’s right HERE.

Special thanks to our partnership sponsors Zoom Performance and LW Coaching. Matt Zepeda, Liz Van Houweling, and Julie Kirkpatrick from Zoom can get you fixed up with coaching to improve your cycling performance, a bike fitting, or any kind of testing you need to conduct to use as a basis for improvement. Lynda Wallenfels from LW Coaching can hook you up from anything from one of her training programs, to a phone consultation, to premium mountain bike coaching.

Hammer Nutrition can hook you up with your hydration, nutritional, and supplement needs for improved performance. BikeIowa.com is your one stop all matters cycling here in Iowa website. Don’t be afraid to visit that website. And in all cases, let our sponsors know you appreciate their support. Send an email, a letter, or a thank you note and let them know you recognize their support of our sport and are thankful. Let them know you were an IMBCS racer this year and simply thank them. It will take you just a few minutes to do that, and it will help IMBCS in the future continue to get sponsorship support for our state series. Please, help us do this. World of Wheels, Oskar Blues Brewery, Zoom Performance, LW Coaching, Hammer Nutrition, BikeIowa.com, and our new sponsor Voss Distributing all would love to hear from each and every one of you.

A huge thanks to all of our race directors for 2016: Mike Corbin, Noel Kehrt, Mike Frasier, Jason Dal, Dave Roll, Maria Ruhtenberg, Lee Geisinger, Nate Cline, and Bruce Brown & Bob Mathews. This group is responsible for bringing you the racing experience here in Iowa – as well as many sleepless nights getting things ready for all of you!!! Our rookie race directors – Jason Dal, Dave Roll, and Maria Ruhtenberg all did a marvelous job, and we thank them for what they brought to the series this year. Thanks also goes to each and every one of the volunteers at our events who put in the time, effort, and community service to help provide the type of racing experience we were fortunate to have this year for all of you. We had a variety of foods, music, entertainment, and atmospheres for everyone to enjoy at our events in 2016 as a result.

Also, a huge thanks to our trail organizations here in Iowa who build and maintain the trails we are fortunate to race on – CITA, LAMBA, ICORR, CVAST, FORC, and the Whiterock trail team. If you personally have not joined one or more of the trail organizations, take the time to do so. Or at least make a donation which will go into their fund for maintenance, equipment purchases, and trail development. We thank all of the trail gnomes that put in the endless hours to remove debris, fix erosion spots, remove fallen trees, deal with mud spots, as well as trim and cut the “jungle” here in Iowa during the growing season. If you haven’t had the opportunity to put in some trail work hours this year, contact your local trail organization to see when the upcoming work days are so you can put your elbow grease and backbone into clearing path that you so love to ride and race on your mountain bike. It takes an army, and the more volunteers – the better.

Races by the numbers…

IMBCS #1 – Illiniwek Abermination (184 Racers + 19 in the Kids Race = 203)

IMBCS #2 – Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy (78 Racers + 9 in the Kids Race = 87)

IMBCS – Special Endurace Event Sugar Cubed Marathon (76 racers)

IMBCS #3 – Summerset Shootout (62 Racers + 11 Fat Bikes + 1 Trail Runner + 5 in the Kids Race = 79)

IMBCS #4 – Ingawanis Woodland Shredfest (74 Racers)

IMBCS #5 – Whiterock Conservancy Liberty Bell Cup (99 Racers + 5 Trail Runners + 2 in the Kids Race = 106)

IMBCS #6 – FORC Side Thrill Ride (111 Racers + 10 in the Kids Race = 121)

IMBCS #7 – Ewing Park Slam – Canceled

IMBCS #8 – George Wyth MTB Race (93 Racers + 25 in the Kids Race = 118)

IMBCS #9 – Sugar Bottom Scramble (118 Racers + 20 in the Kids Race = 138)

IMBCS #10 – Mullet Fall Classic (129 Racers + 6 Trail Runners + 2 in the Kids Race = 137)

We had a Grand Total of 1139 race during the 2016 IMBCS Season. The loss of the Ewing Park race due to weather prevented us from showing the kind of growth numbers year over year that I had really hoped for, but in spite of that – we did very well year over year with one less event. The Ewing Park Slam had 75 racers last year, and had we been able to have the event and score a similar turnout or even a few more – we would have nearly matched, or perhaps even surpassed (depending on turnout) our all time participant high of 1259 racers in the 2013 season. That 2013 season included three joint state series events (two races with Illinois, and one with Nebraska Psycowpath) which when combined, helped create that all time high in our participant numbers by bumping up the participation.

Regardless, through our own internal growth here within Iowa, we slightly surpassed our 2015 numbers even though we had one less event this year for a growth rate of 2.8%. Had Ewing Park taken place and matched the 2015 racer entries of 75 for that event, IMBCS would have netted a 9.3% growth rate this year compared to 2015. Rats and pox on you Ma Nature! I wanted that higher growth rate. I will go through the data to divide up our numbers to see how many we had in the JUNIORS, CAT III, CAT II, COMP, CAT I, Trail Runners, and Kids Races as well as gender to see how we did compared to past seasons.

In the meantime, year over year of 2.8% growth looks like this…

2015 had 1108 racers for our 11 events.

2016 had 1139 racers for our 10 events.

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Everyone was a winner in 2016!!!!

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Ida Grove is back for next season! I am currently beginning work on the 2017 IMBCS schedule. If you, or your trail organization are interested in hosting an event – please contact me with your event and proposed date(s). I have spoken with both Mike Frasier and Noel Kehrt about standalone Marathon events next season as this year’s Sugar Cubed proved to be a resounding success. Noel and LAMBA would like to introduce us to a new trail system that they feel would be perfect for a Marathon event via the Squaw Creek Singletrack. We might be able to find one more venue for a third standalone Marathon event which could provide the opportunity for IMBCS racers to compete in both the XC points, and the Marathon points within the same season. More on that later, but at least it could be an interesting possibility if there is enough interest.

Thank you to all for an excellent 2016 IMBCS season. Whether you were a racer, a race director, a trail gnome, a spectator, an official, a volunteer, a Mom, a Dad, a significant other that came along to hang out, a photographer – we thank you.