Mid-Season Series Report…

Greetings to all IMBCS participants, volunteers, race directors, sponsors, advisory board members, potential racers, and invited guests!

I wanted to provide some thoughts after the mid-season point with regard to how things have been going here in Iowa for mountain bike racing.

In addition, I wanted to thank everyone who has been able to come out and enjoy one of our events up to this point in the season. We all owe our thanks to each individual race director, their volunteer crews, the trail organizations, and all of the trail work gnomes for providing us the opportunity to race our mountain bikes on the trails here in Iowa.

If you are not a current member of your local trail organization, please consider joining. Whether you donate your time by doing trail work so others can enjoy recreation on the dirt, or you donate some money so that our trails continue to provide the kinds of opportunities we want so that we can all ride on dirt – it would be appreciated by everyone if you did. LAMBA, CVAST, FORC, CITA, and  ICORR are all involved in the trails we have raced on for this season. Join. Ask other members how you can help with your local trails and get involved. Enjoying the trails and giving back when you can is an ideal combination that we are striving to reach here in Iowa.

Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series

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Photo by Eric Roccasecca

I am sure that everyone will agree with me that the weather has been difficult this year. Not only difficult, but hard to manage. In spite of that, we have proven it is not insurmountable via our use of rain delays, course preparation management, and in the case of three of our events from earlier in the season – rescheduling.

The following picture was taken during the Beverly Fat Tire Frenzy in May where we had to invoke the dangerous weather rule “…creates a racing environment that is deemed dangerous for participants…” as lightening, thunder and a storm moved through the area while the race was in progress. Collective heads came together and a 2 hour weather delay was used. Believe it or not, after the delay the tread was left in good shape where we were treated to sunshine and hero dirt once we got up and running again.

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Photo by Eric Roccasecca

Post 2 Hour Rain Delay at Sugar Bottom left conditions perfect for all Categories…

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Photo by Janice Jedlicka

This season has certainly proved to be a learning experience for us all, but I venture to guess that the weather we experienced in 2015 is not an anomaly. There will be circumstances that develop in the future, just as there have been in the past, where managing the events around the weather will be difficult for all of those involved. The frustrations surrounding inclement weather are understood. I have seen weather issues over the years in Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa while racing at mountain bike events. I appreciate the patience of racers, race directors, volunteers, and everyone involved as we manage this 2015 season based on what has been thrown at us by Ma Nature.

The 2015 IMBCS Season passed the mid-season point of our 11 scheduled events with the Sugar Bottom Scramble on August 23rd. We have turned the corner and are headed for the home stretch with 4 exciting events remaining that everyone can enjoy. Whether you have participated in none, one, two, three or more – or even all seven of our prior races this season – we invite you to join us for one or more of our remaining events. Your race directors, sponsors, and volunteers have been working hard – so please help support them. Without them, we have no mountain bike races, and no series here in Iowa.

Turning the mid-season point corner at the Sugar Bottom Scramble…

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Photo by Alexa Brown

The months of September and October both present us with two races each to wrap up our 2015 Season.

September:

Saturday, September 12th – IMBCS #10 Summerset Shootout at Summerset State Park between Des Moines and Indianola

The CITA work day on Saturday, August 29th got the trails whipped into racing shape for the Shootout. Race Director Rick Blackford has things under control with his Rasmussen Mountain Bike Team for a fun day of racing, hanging out, and enjoying Summerset State Park. Come on out and race your bike or run on the unique trails built over a former coal mining area known as Banner Pits! In terms of commodities, the trails at Summerset State Park are rich in what they provide to a mountain biker or trail runner.

Sunday, September 20th – IMBCS #4 Solstice Slam at Ewing Park in Des Moines

Originally scheduled to be on the Summer Solstice date in June to kick off the Summer, rain and trail work delays led to this event being rescheduled for the other end of Summer to “slam” it shut. First time Race Director Nathan Cline, along with Team Sakari and CITA have the Ewing Park trail system ready to go for us. Come on out and help us SLAM Summer shut with this brand new trail system and race!

October:

Sunday, October 4th – IMBCS #11 The Mullet Fall Classic at Lake Ahquabi State Park south of Indianola

A bonafide central Iowa Fall mountain bike race and party. Yup. This race has morphed over the years into a “come one, come all mountain bike race, potluck, and year end mountain bike party”. It rolls on the multi-use trails surrounding Lake Ahquabi State Park, and ends with a big potluck, beer garden and party at the Beach House Shelter overlooking Lake Ahquabi. Some new route sections will be included this year as we have the 8th running of The Mullet Fall Classic. It’s a perfect venue for those new to mountain bike racing who want to give XC racing a try, as well as a super fast track for our more advanced racers. There will be a marathon category, a trail run, as well as a FAT BIKE category this year. Potluck. Bevvies. Race. Party. BB and BikeIowa.com style. After all, everyone loves a mullet

Sunday, October  11th – IMBCS #6 FORC Side Thrill Ride at Sunderbruch Park in Davenport

Whiz bang, bend and curve, lean and be mean at the excellent course of Sunderbruch Park in Davenport, Iowa. FORC originally had the date of July 12th for the Side Thrill Ride. However, as explained above, Ma Nature determines when, where, who, and what gets to race. This one had to be rescheduled. Dual Race Director Michael Vittetoe (Illiniwek Abermination and Side Thrill Ride)  who will be mired in the throws of the Harvest came up with the suggestion of moving the event to October and making it a festival weekend for October 10th and 11th where we will present the IMBCS Series Winners Awards. The race will be on Sunday, October 11th, but lined up for Saturday are bike related games, a TT, night rides, and other tomfoolery. Keep an eye out for updates. Sounds good to me. 

What’s new?

Both the Summerset Shootout and The Mullet Fall Classic will be our testing grounds for adding a morning Trail Run Race for those interested in running the trails. If you have a spouse, friend, child, acquaintance, or colleague that doesn’t like to mountain bike race, but does like to do running races – bring them along to one of those races to give a trail run race a try. Or if you want to give the trail run a try before you race your mountain bike later that day, why not give it a go?

Numbers

We have had a grand total of participants – in terms of number plates issued to date – right at 736 for our first seven events.  Would I love to see our final 4 events bump that number up to 1,100 and beyond? You bet!! When I go meet with sponsors – or with potential sponsors – they all want to see numbers. They want to see Iowans of all ages and abilities enjoying the sport of mountain bike racing before they commit to being a sponsor.

I know we still have untapped potential here in the state of Iowa. Yes, we are competing for the same pool of riders that are also involved in events in other disciplines such as gravel, cyclocross, road, and charity events. In addition, there are many out of state destination mountain bike events that are a big draw for mountain bikers to attend. The words event cannibalization was mentioned to me. In what way? Well, in the way that there are so many possible events and rides pulling and tugging at the options of our potential racer pool. It was one of the main reasons IMBCS was formed in 2003 as the plethora of events being scheduled on the same day and weekends were overlapping so much that a coordinated effort was made to manage that by forming IMBCS. When I take a quick look at the calendars, it reveals a plethora of choices for cycling options here in Iowa has simply continued to grow. I think there are 117 rides/events scheduled in September alone on the BikeIowa.com site. Wow! Talk about a state that has embraced cycling. The reality of there being a multitude of choices is not going to go away. However, it has created some excellent suggestions for next year in terms of how we build the IMBCS schedule, the number of our events, targets, and our venue locations.

I just hope you consider giving IMBCS a chance when making your choices. This is your Iowa mountain bike series. It would be nice to see us wrap up the season with historic numbers that we can take to our sponsors, race directors, and build on for the future to bring quality events to all mountain bikers here in our fine state of Iowa.

2016

Speaking of the future, if you are interested in hosting an event in 2016 or just want to be a race director (we can place you), please contact me as we are in the throws of organizing things for 2016. Whether you have hosted or directed a race before, it doesn’t matter. In terms of actual dates, we have confirmed dates for the 4th of July weekend scheduled at White Rock Conservancy, as well as Sugar Bottom for the weekend of August 20/21. The rest is wide open at this point. So let me know as we move forward with planning the 2016 season.

2016 Advisory Board

Do you have an interest in being an IMBCS Advisory Board member for 2016? Let me know of your interest as it is always nice to have racers and race directors from all over the state of Iowa that represent all levels of racers who could provide input, suggestions, and ideas on how to better what IMBCS does.

That’s it from my perspective as a mid-season report from the IMBCS Series Director.

Get out and race BEFORE the 2015 IMBCS Season is all gone!

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Photo by David Krohse