That's right.  This Thanksgiving weekend, while everyone was at the mall shopping for ultra-discounted-flat-screen-blu-ray-wii-wireless somethings, some of us rolled to beautiful Iowa City for some Jingle Cross Rock UCI action in a county fairgrounds, where we had some speedo'd, hard bikin', shirtless fallin' in the snow, mudball fun.

First up was the men's beginner race, where new member Chris Jensen flew the colors with pride.  He had a strong start and hung with the pack for the first half of the race, but then he turned - it - on.  Seriously, passing people like they were standing still.  In his first non-Chicago race, Chris really rocked it out for a top-25 finish!

Saturday was clear and not too cold, so when the promoter asked singlespeeders to wear speedo's, Tim Strege was happy to oblige.  I had the great honor of writing his race number on his back in sharpie, along with "Half Acre Cycling *heart*s you!"  It was c-c-c-cold but Tim held his own for a finish with a smile.

And then I hung out in the pit and did nothing, but I shouted alot, yeah?

Sunday was a mudhole.  Dan rolled up minutes too late for registration, so he joined me in the shouting section instead.  Slippery, sloppy mud surrounded by snow was the name of the game and it was Chris' first venture into a non-dry course.  He did awesome.  It's like... it took him a lap to get it down, and he was in 36th the first time we counted, but he came back like a bandit to take another top-25 finish.  Yowsa!

The officials had cut out the run-up to the so-called Mount Krumpet because the downhill was "dangerous" for the beginners and really kind of silly.  It was slick and steep and had a 90-degree turn at the bottom... so naturally they'd add it back in for the singlespeed race and leave it there for the day "as long as we don't break anyone."

So, Tim's field was the first over the hill and, ki-ya!, that was nuts.  Dan was standing at the top of the hill doing corn dog handups, but from where I stood halfway up, I could see the full effect.  It was a slip-and-slide of Iowa's finest dark mud, taking people down who dared make a misstep.  The first time down Tim slid on his feet, bike in hand, but after that he rode it.  You could smell the spectators' whisky and cider from miles away.  Most everyone fell at least once, racers and onlookers alike.  Insane.  Tim finished strong and in one piece, once again.

When the Elite race came, I took my place in the pit.  Tim and Chris took their shirts off and played superfan, cheering on the guys as they slid down the hill.  By all accounts, Chris did a shirtless faceplant in a snowbank, resulting in him grunting half-naked behind a tree while reapplying clothing and reportedly distracting more than one confused racer on the course.

It was a good day.

 -Julie Popper