Coon Rapids, IA – For the second consecutive year, Whiterock Conservancy will play host to this Sunday’s Liberty Bell Cup, part of the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series. “Last year we were right around 100 bikers. We’re expecting at least that many or more. Registrations are open until the races begin so we won’t know for sure until then,” said Christopher Van Roekel, trails coordinator for Whiterock Conservancy. “We are really excited to be hosting this event again and very anxious to see if the numbers increase. We’d love to see this event hosted here every year,” Van Roekel added.
Rob Cook of Des Moines, who is organizing the event, is equally excited to see the event expand in participation. “I’m hoping to have as many as last year, when we actually drew riders from four states. In my dreams we double that number this year,” Cook exclaimed. Cook said Sunday’s event here is considered the state Cross Country Mountain Biking (MTB) championship, which means that winners are considered the state champions for 2017. “The races are held under the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series (IMBCS) banner and run to United States Cycling standards. If you are the state champion, you qualify to go on to the national championships,” Cook explained.
There are 10 events during the day-long competition for men, women and juniors, fat bike, four-hour marathon and more. The
races will be routed over some of Iowa’s finest mountain bike trails. Some of the shorter races will be held on the Big Dipper and Little Dipper trails; both trails are located near Whiterock’s Star Field. Longer races will be routed over the Shooting Star, Riverside, 805 Spur double track, and Long Creek trails. Every race will start and finish at the Star Field, so that would be one area where spectators could expect to see lots of action, said Van Rockel.
“MTB races, unfortunately, are not the most spectator-friendly events, given that we race over miles of trails usually through
woods and hills,” explained Cook. “To provide better viewing this year for local spectators, we have centralized the start and finish to take place at the Star Field campground where one can watch the races head off and finish. Whiterock does have some other great spots to watch from if you are willing to hike a little to get there. Creek crossings are always a fun place as well as the intersection of Long Creek and Riverside trails where many of the riders will be turning laps,” Cook said.
Whiterock prepares for Mountain Bike Championship series “What we don’t want spectators to do is park and watch along
Fig Avenue,” Van Rockel added. Van Rockel said Whiterock Conservancy is rolling out the red carpet for the bikers by inviting them to come here earlier in the week to camp, kayak and explore the outdoors. Whiterock is hosting a BBQ on Saturday night.
Cook said the races start at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, and he encourages local biking enthusiasts to give it a try.
“Even if you’ve never raced before, come give it a try. We have a beginning-friendly course so all you need is a helmet and bike,”
Cook said. Five dollars of every rider’s entry fee is given back to Whiterock to maintain and build trails. “Whiterock’s trails, in my opinion, are some of the best in the state,” Cook added. “Certainly they have as much or more in terms of miles of trail as any trail system in Iowa. One of the advantages Whiterock has over the other trails is the dedicated staff available to maintain, clean and build new trail. Whiterock is a bit secluded but the onsite amenities, showers, camping to name a few, make it worth the ride. Whiterock also has more varied terrain than other systems, and we manage to have several creek crossings that are unique to these trails. You really get the feeling that you’re going somewhere when you ride here.”