Iron Cross comes into year nine with a few tweaks and changes in store for riders to ensure the continued success and growth of this classic event. The addition of a 50K option to the traditional 100K loop offers a chance for those looking to test out this style of racing without the commitment 60 miles of Michaux and 6000+ feet of gain requires. The shorter course, designed to keep the speed up while mimicking the features of the long race, is also a great choice for traditional ‘cross racers who may be concerned about the impact of a four+ hour effort in the midst of ‘cross season. Promoter Mike Kuhn offered, "We anticipate the first finishers to cross the 50K line in under two hours without much trouble and that makes it perfect for anyone making traditional ‘cross the focus. It is a fun hard ride on weekend between MAC events and you're out there in a beautiful fall setting with a few hundred other people who just love riding bikes. Plus, like the 100K, it benefits the local YMCA's program to get kids out on bikes. It's perfect."
Pine Grove Furnace State Park now serves as the start/finish for Iron Cross. The overall course length and features do not change rather there is a tweak - the end of the old course now serves as the start of the race. This also creates a prologue loop bringing the riders back by the venue a few miles into the ride.
Said Kuhn of the new additions, "We're definitely excited about these changes. The new paved miles early on lend themselves to ‘cross bikes and the prologue loop is great for spectators. Working with Pine Grove Furnace State Park has been wonderful. Adding neutral support from SRAM will help everyone get through in one piece and help to keep the race more competitive. Bringing in CyclingDirt.com for race coverage will be great for next Monday morning in the cubicle! What we've done sets NoTubes Iron Cross up for a great future and we're really looking forward to joining with our partners NoTubes, WTB, World Cup Ski and Cycle and Hammer Nutrition to welcome everyone back to Michaux on October 9!"
What do I ride? The never ending dilemma of Iron Cross!
Originally designed to be experienced from the seat of a ‘cross bike and in a way that made a ‘cross bike the best choice for the day, changes in bike technology continue to blur the lines when it comes time to choose the "right" bike for Iron Cross.
Miles and miles of roads make up the vast majority of the IC course and thousands of feet of elevation gain via those roads coupled with the Wigwam Run-Up seemingly sways the choice of bike toward the narrow tires, lighter weight and aerodynamic advantages of the ‘cross rig. However, a mountain bike with flat bars, slightly wider tires and even a little suspension helps to eat up the technical Lippencote descent and offers an advantage in the last quarter of the course when the day's fatigue begins to set it. This results in more than a few unique to IC set ups like ‘cross bikes with the widest possible tires stuffed in the frames, 29ers running ‘cross tires and inboard mounted bar ends and other more "franken-bike" set ups designed with conquering IC's unique mix of challenges in mind. With the coming advancements in disc brakes for ‘cross bikes and tubeless ‘cross wheelsets like those from NoTubes gaining traction in the marketplace and which are ideally suited for UltraCross racing it may only get harder to choose the best weapon!
National UltraCross Series
Though itself based on the idea of the grand daddy of all endurance ‘cross race, England's Three Peaks, Iron Cross has been the source of inspiration for other promoters who love the notion that there is a whole other world of possibilities for ‘cross bikes than the short fall weekend events and that ‘cross bikes are ideal for adventures. These promoters got to chatting in the spring of 2011 and quietly introduced the inaugural National UltraCross Series with stops in WV, NC, PA and GA - UltraCX.com. NoTubes Iron Cross marks the third stop in the 2011-12 series and beginning in 2012 will assume the role of the UltraCX series finals. Georgia's Southern Cross next February wraps up the 2011-2012 UltraCX series and kicks off 2012 with a dual points event