Cycling race supports Children's Hospital


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Ed Veak was among the 30 or so spectators who stood around the racetrack, huddled in jackets as they watched cyclo-cross racers climb a hill while carrying their bikes. His biker friend raced up the side of the hill, wearing nothing more than a green speedo, biking cleats, and a racing helmet, followed by another biker clothed in ankle- and wrist-length spandex.

"We come up for the heckling and the camaraderie," Veak said before breaking off to cheer loudly for his barely clothed friend who was back on his bike, riding down the hill.

Veak, a Des Moines resident, doesn't race, but he said he enjoys watching his friend bike three-and-a-half kilometers in the cold and mud.

The 2010 Carousel Volkswagen Jingle Cross Rock, an annual race, attracted approximately 1,500 competitors from all over the United States to Iowa City to test their skills against peers.

All the profits from the entry fees and donations go to support the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, and the event has raised more than $100,000 over the seven years since it started. Total donations to the Children's Hospital from this year's competition won't be available for several months.

Children's Hospital pediatrics head Tom Scholz, who has worked with Meehan since the race began, said the funds are used to help families by paying for such things as parking passes, hotel rooms, and food.

"We try to make their stay here a little less stressful," Scholz said.

John Meehan, the race director and a UI alumnus, noted they "don't keep anything," donating it all to the Children's Hospital.

Bikers of all ages raced throughout the weekend on the difficult course which consisted of sharp turns, carrying bikes over low wooden fences, then toting them up the steep hill, all while working through mud left over from the Nov. 24 rain.

"It's more entertaining for the spectators when it's wet," said Wayne Fett, 56, an Iowa City resident who was supporting a friend in the race.

The weekend also featured more competitive events, including elite racing.

Meredith Miller, who was the 2009 U.S. National Race champion and placed in the top 10 in the World Championships of cyclocross, won this year's women's elite race.

The 36 year-old Colorado resident is racking up points for the national championships — more points means a better place at the nationals' starting line for her.

"It's a really good competition, very challenging," Miller said.

She raced last year in the Jingle Cross Rock, and again Nov. 26 through Sunday.

"This is a great event … It just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year," Miller said.

Meehan said the competition has grown from a "little grass-roots local race in 2004" to a internationally recognized contest in 2010.

"We are recognized by the Swiss governing body — the [Union Cycliste Internationale] — as a top, elite level cycling event, just like the Tour de France," Meehan said.

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