Sunday, September 4, 2016 – Amana, IA

The first second annual Iowa State Gravel Time Trial Championship has something for everyone.  An abandon bridge, several water crossings, beautiful Iowa gravel, and a challenging minimum maintenance road.



Cedar Rapids Gazette


Pre-registration @ USA Cycling (until 10 pm on 9/2/16)
On-site registration (@ Millstream Brewery) 8:00 am – 9:30 am (9/4/16)
$20 all categories [see registration for complete list of categories, including a fat bike category (minimum 3″ tires)]


1st rider @ 10 am (1 minute intervals, in order of registration)


A 21.5 mile ride, that will take riders over a retired bridge, through several (depending on weather) water crossings, and down a challenging minimum maintenance road, this ride down some of Iowa’s finest gravel has something interesting for everyone!  (download course GPS @ strava)
* no short course option for Juniors or Masters, all categories do the same course *


Course GPS available on strava.


Award ceremony to be held at Millstream Brewery immediately following conclusion of event.  Awards will be in the form of trophies and other schwag, in addition to state championship medals.


  • FESTIVAL OF IOWA BEERS immediately following the TT, stick around for the 12th annual Festival of Iowa Beers, complete with beers exclusively from Iowa breweries and food.  Tickets include unlimited beer samples and a souvenir glass, get them ahead of time though, as the event is capped at 1,200 people!


The course for this event has a special place in the hearts of many local Iowa City area riders, our race promoter Rick Hopson is one of those, and has endeavored to share his thoughts with you:

The Amana Gravel Loop… where to begin…
In a time now forgotten, before the invention of carbon bikes, carbon wheels, or perhaps even carbon, the element, which is to say many many years ago, my approach to becoming a “serious cyclist” took the form of trying all that was difficult and painful on a bike:  RAGBRAI out and back in 3 days (with tents, stoves, etc), brevets and then PBP, BRR’s x 30 (and the rides though blizzards to get there), Rouge Roubaix, and of course the Iowa City T/Th group rides with Mez, Eastbag, Nanners, Jason, and Lobster.  Part of this training included an introduction to the IC weekend “Gravel Epic”, with the best and toughest of these being the IC-Amana-IC loop, a 70-ish mile chip, gravel, B-road, mud, and water-soaked route from IC to Amana, with a stop at the Millstream Brewery, and then back.  The out leg was brutal but the return leg was worse, the latter usually being a full-gas, beer-clouded, anerobic paceline from hell.  Most of my favorite training moments are from this ride… attacked by mosquitoes while reassembling Mez’s bike, dog chases, shattered collarbones, head-to-post encouters (thanks bR!), bits of lip floating in my beer after crashing over Lobster, frostbite, biking through miles of open water (and seeing Fritz Viner sink beneath the surface on his 50th birthday ride), the discovery of the Nokian studded CX tire after a bloody encounter with ice, and lost rear dr’s too numerous to count.  All while riding full out and trying not to get dropped.  Rule #1 of cycling is that pain loves company, so it seems only proper that this route somehow be shared.
don't worry the water crossing isn't quite like this...So in this vein of suffering and adventure I present to you the innaugural State of Iowa Gravel Time Trial Championship race.  The event will start in Amana, end close to Amana, and involve most of the more entertaining portions of the traditional IC-based loop.   Total distance is about 28 miles.  Race registration will be at the Millstream Brewery, our host and sponsor.  The TT start will be on the northeast side of Amana, on the Amana Road heading east, about 1/4 mile from the registration point, and you might reference the map from the flyer for help in following this narrative.  The first 1.5 miles heading east is paved, but this relative comfort yields to gravel as you jump the RR tracks near East Amana.  The gravel is flat for the next 2 miles, but after a brief jog south you will notice a gentle rise followed by a distinct climb.  This hill is the first of 3, all of which are big ring-able, but all attention-getting and, either in a TT or in a pack, capable of getting the bloodball cooking in the back of the throat.  After about 6-7 miles of this you are treated to a final descent that swings right and leads you past a shooting range.  Penitence is in order here.  Continue on over a bridge and look for a right turn at Greencastle Ave, but glance briefly over your left shoulder and thank me (later) for not leading you up the 16% gravel wall that leads north.  Ouch.  Continue south on Greencastle and note, in the distance, the shady outline of an iron trestle bridge.  This is the first of the Three Challenges:  the Abandoned Bridge, a lost and ancient iron span that somehow remains on this gravel road from an old route over the Iowa River, now impassable to all but wildlife and the hunters that pursue them.  Caution is in order here… the bridge is guarded by 25 yards of mud on the approach, 75 yards of mud on the other side, and a 12″ concrete ledge on both ends.  The bridge itself is usually ok, but remnants of burned sofas, Falstaff beer cans, and old camp fires are present and best avoided.  (Of note, if you have the time, perhaps look for bits of a shattered rear DA derailleur on the far side mud patch… it’s mine and a reward is offered if found and retrieved.)  Beyond the bridge ther a brief but sketchy trail that opens to reveal challenge #2:  The R.A.U.S. (river and unrideable sand), a series of sand dunes and water crossings that might require a bike hoist (or two).  We might have a photographer here to record Lobster’s crossing, so in thinking of your sponsor perhaps zip up when you get close in case you find your way into the paper.  After the RAUS remount and continue south and look for a 4 corner intersection (roughly 1.5 miles after the water).  Turn right there.  You are now heading west and onto a winding network of course gravel/stone roads that loop around the river bottom area for about 6 miles.  This is a desolate area, not on most maps, with unnamed roads, and is subject to very limited maintenance.  The gravel is sometimes a bit large and the tarmac a bit choppy.  A sharp left turn will lead you to a final water crossing that has an average depth of 1-2 feet… usually rideable, but as has been proven many times, not always.  Another 2 miles south after this water event you will find a 4 corner intersection… turn right, go another 1.5 miles, and turn right again at a T-intersection with a cemetery just at the left corner of the turn.  You are on the home stretch now!  The next 3 miles are on gravel of changing direction and get hilly as you approach the third and final challenge:  the false flat B finish.  The last 1.3 miles are on a dirt/mud surface whose countenance is a bit difficult to predict, but is influence greatly by the rain it has seen in the preceding 2 days.  The best I have seen is smooth and hard packed dirt:  a rocket B.  The worse is one of a deeply rutted and completely unridable goo that makes even walking a challenge.  A visit to WeatherUnderground might be in order, but regardless, only Lobster will be sporting road shoes for this event if it has rained in the past week.  The finish line will be well marked and just prior to the intersection of this B road with Hwy 151.  Recover as you head slowly back north on the right hand bikeway/shoulder to Amana.  Rest awaits you there.  Have an ale.  You have earned it. 
Good luck to all,
Rick Hopson