Kluck leads in the first lap of the men’s race. © David Mable
by David Mable
The 2013 cyclocross season was met with heat, humidity and more than 100 cyclists in Altoona Iowa on Saturday, August 24. A flat mile-long course was staked out next to cornfields and ballfields at the Sam Wise athletic complex in the Des Moines suburb. Dismounts were plentiful with three pairs of traditional ‘cross barriers plus a couple of logs.
A large women’s field of 25 resulted from all categories and ages combining for a common start-time, but the elite category 1,2,3 women quickly separated themselves from the rest.
Beatty led early. © David Mable
Young Alijah Beatty of Iowa City (Mercy/Specialized) took an early lead, but was passed by the conclusion of the first lap by teammate Brittany McConnell, (Iowa City, Mercy/Specialized), Lisa Vetterlein (Des Moines, Smart Honda/DMOS) and Liz Martin (Des Moines, Team Indibike).
Vetterlein soon took the lead and only McConnell could stay close, the pair distancing themselves from a disintegrating pack. Vetterlein powered ahead, taking the season’s first ’cross win, McConnell content with second place, saving a bit for an Iowa City mountain bike race the following day.
Vetterlein pulls away and grins. © David Mable
“I wanted to stay with Lisa, but she was just so strong,” said McConnell. “I decided to save my legs for Sugarbottom (mountain bike race). I really want to do well there.” Martin followed in third and Beatty in fourth.
A strong dozen took the line in the elite category 1,2,3 men’s race. Jeff Kluck (Queen City Cycling) pulled away in the first lap and maintained his position for the entire 60-minute race.
Patterson keeps a hard-earned 2 dollar bill. © David Mable
Behind him, things were not as clear as both Nathan Kullbom (Iowa City, Atlas) and Josh Wandry (Waukee, American Equity) battled their way through the field to fill out the podium. Kullbom made his way into the second position in the first half of the race, while Wandry kept a strong, steady tempo, eating into Kullboms lead with every pedal stroke.
With 30-minutes-to-go, Wandry caught and passed Kullbom, pulling away from the struggling rider, even taking a shot at a $2 hand-up prime, stuck in a beer can high on the Big Banana – a 4-foot high berm build specifically for this race. Though tantalizingly close, the $2 temptation foiled many an attempt, but was eventually snagged by Des Moines rider Kevin Patterson (Team Emu).
Kluck soloed to a win. © David Mable
Kluck rolled happily across the line, taking the top podium step in his first ’cross race of the season.
“I’m really happy to have raced so well, especially in this heat,” said Kluck. “I’m headed to Cross Vegas in September, so I’m glad we came down here to race. It was great to have such an early race.”
Kluck will be lining up with many of the best in the world at Cross Vegas, the traditional start of the UCI ’cross season in the US. “I’m a bit nervous,” said Kluck of Cross Vegas. “I am hoping to finish on the same lap as the leaders.”
Elite Men, Category 1,2,3
- Jeff Kluck, Sioux Falls, S.D., Queen City Cycling
- Josh Wandry, Waukee, IA, American Equity
- Nate Kullbom, Iowa City, IA, Atlas Cycling Team
- Nathan Cline, Altoona, IA, Sakari Race Team
- Mark Lavin, Sioux Falls, S.D., Queen City Cycling
- John Stonebarger, Iowa City, IA, Goosetown Racing
- Ulises Salas, Sioux Falls, S.D., Queen City Cycling
- Jesse Leonard, Davenport, IA, DICE
- Matthew Casey, Sioux Falls, S.D., Queen City Cycling
- Kevin Patterson, Des Moines, IA, Team Emu
Elite Women, Category 1,2,3
- Lisa Vetterlein, Des Moines, IA, Smart Honda/DMOS
- Brittany McConnell, Iowa City, IA, Mercy/Specialized
- Liz Martin, Des Moines, IA, Team Indibike
- Alijah Beatty, Iowa City, IA, Mercy/Specialized
- Nancy Henderson, Des Moines, IA, COBC
- Kate Clark, Des Moines, IA, Smart Honda/DMOS
- Katie Fistler, Mason City, IA
- Kim Hopkins, Des Moines, IA, VeloRosa