Trans Iowa V6

 

Here you will find everything pertaining to Trans Iowa V6:

“It’s like a train wreck in many ways. You can see the imminent disaster coming from a long ways off, the witnesses can’t look away, and the participants can’t seem to escape it.”

Dennis Grelk: T.I. vet

The Lead Up: Usually I don’t even want to think about another Trans Iowa right after I finish one. I want nothing to do with it for months, and most of the time, I even toy with the idea of quitting it altogether. This feeling usually fades over the course of summer and by fall, I usually am thinking of routes and what to do to tweak out the event next time. That didn’t happen this time.

This Trans Iowa started out differently, much differently. It came as a surprise at the time, but it seemed logical then too. It was at the finish line of T.I.V5 that David and I, the last ones there that day, shook hands on T.I.V6. David just stuck his hand out and said, “T.I.V6?” Well, you already know the answer I gave……… So it was that a sketch for a route was finished by June, and a revision done by August. Busy schedules kept us from doing any recon, but getting this far was an unprecedented accomplishment.

The Changes: We had been a bit dissatisfied with the event’s social side as far as Williamsburg was concerned, so we turned to the west and decided upon Grinnell as a starting and finishing point. David was somewhat familiar with areas to the south, so we decided upon Pella as a pass through town early on. A covered bridge was also on the menu early on, along with a good-sized chunk of the previous T.I.V5 course, just to make things easier on us. Later on towards the end of the summer, I became aware that a possibility to review a pair of Oakley Jawbones was perhaps going to happen. Now this usually doesn’t affect things like Trans Iowa. But this time things would be different. This marked something big for T.I.V6

Designed by Jeff Kerkove from an idea I had

The Oakley rep, Rob Versteegh, was a big fan of Trans Iowa. He really liked the event, and knew several of its past competitors. Rob got ahold of me and started telling me he had a lot of info about the Grinnell area, having ridden around there plenty, and even knew of a potential start/stop place for T.I.V6. This was a great help to us in getting a foot in the door in Grinnell. One of the most intriguing things we heard from Rob was that he could hook us up with a restored barn just outside of Grinnell. He didn’t know how we might want to use it, but he thought we should check into it. On the first day d.p. and myself did recon effort on October 24th, 2009, we went down to Grinnell and set eyes on what would become the Trans Iowa finish line. We also decided to try to have the race start outside of Bikes To You in downtown Grinnell. A meeting with Craig Cooper, Bikes To You Owner, Rob Versteegh, d.p. and myself took place on November 11th. we got the start finish line set for right out in front of Bikes To You, the barn was decided upon as a finish line/overnight spot for spectators/support folks, and a Chamber of Commerce person (Sheryl Parmley) was also summoned and on hand to help with motels and securing a pre-race meet up spot.

Unbelievable support from Grinnell’s folks so far, and we were just getting started. Two days later, on Friday the 13th, I announced registration and the first week was fun with gifts of booze, cash cards, potato chips, cigars, and more coming in with all the cool post cards. By the end of the first week, we had 48 folks on board, all past Trans Iowa veterans. the roster was looking pretty stacked with quality talent already. After the first day of open registration, it was filled. Basically seven days. Then the post cards kept rolling in. Waiting List numbers exceeded 45 folks. Amazing.

The fall off of riders normally seen after registration closes from the official roster happened, but to a much lesser extent. I transferred in six people before the Waiting list was killed off on January 31st, 2010. In fact, because volunteers get in free after their year of service, I actually had more than 75 on the roster. Some folks backed out, but considering comp entries for sponsorship of Trans Iowa V6 it was looking like this could be a record number of starters for the April 24th honking of the horn.  And speaking of that, a bit of Trans Iowa history died when my 1991 Honda Civic Wagon died. Better known as “The Dirty Blue Box“, it had thousands of miles of gravel travel on the odometer and was a fixture at two T.I. events, being well-remembered by T.I. vets. It was replaced by a 2003 Toyota Tundra that I dubbed “The Truck With No Name“.

The Social End Gets Figured Out: Sheryl Parmley really is due most of the credit for this. Working with local businesses that were Chamber of Commerce members we were happy to score a lodging deal, and a local restaurant, The Grinnell Steakhouse, we had a perfect Pre-Race Meat-Up spot. Not only that, but Sheryl got the racers hooked up with Dining Dollars to subsidize the meal costs. Too Cool!

Winter Wash-out: With another well meaning recon effort wasted in 2009, I was hoping to get a break with the weather in winter. No dice! It snowed on December 10th and that was it. We were inundated with snow the entire winter, relegating recon to spring. The snow cover was heavy all across the state, and worries about flooding, damaged bridges, and frost heaves were becoming more serious as February faded. Trans Iowa V4 started out in a similar fashion. Would this be a repeat? Fortunately we learned some good lessons from T.I.V4, just in case.

In another T.I. related happening over the winter, T.I.V3 tag along, Zach Dundas, got ahold of me via e-mail to say that pre-orders for his book, “The Renegade Sportsman” were being accepted. The book, which is about America’s under-the-radar, anti-establishment sporting scene includes a chapter on T.I.V3, which Zach described as being quite large and “as epic as the race is”.  Speaking of media, I started a site to cover gravel events that have sprung up since T.I.V1 and called it “Gravel Grinder News“. As if I wasn’t busy enough!

Long Winter Pushes Us Against The Wall: Well, with things still under a frozen coating of snow right into mid-March, things were pretty quiet on the Trans Iowa front. Late in the month recon finally got going again. A check point spot in What Cheer was found, some determinations on timing were being made, and more sponsors and sponsorship news was in the offing. Rob Versteegh met with me in the latter part of the month and we nailed down the Oakley O-Down At The Barn details, got his gravel ride mostly figured out and dubbed that “Rob’s M-COGG Ride” (Rob’s Metric Century Of Gravelly Goodness), and I learned that Epic Designs was back on board with some bags for prizing. Salsa committed to giving away a frame set, and prizing was rolling in to Europa Cycles for the event. Sheryl Parmley got us “approved” with the city of Grinnell, a first as far as I could remember for a T.I. start town.  Now to just finish that dratted recon!

Well, it got finished a mere three weeks out from the event. Then d.p. had to get the cues sorted and figured out. It’s always a nerve-wracking deal to do cues, as I knew from my past efforts and d.p. felt the task at hand weighing down on him. We hit a rough spot there about two weeks out, but d.p. persevered and the cues and the rest of the event literally fell into place. Now it was out of our hands and we waited to see what the weather would bring.

All Washed Up: The roads were incredibly dry and pounded into powdery fluff in lots of places. Reasons as to why this strange occurance was were wide ranging, but the fact remains that it was weird and actually treacherous in places. I figured a “settling rain” was in order, and to my surprise, we were forcast to get it on the Friday of the Pre-Race Meat-Up. I was sure it wouldn’t be bad after this, but to our dismay, it rained terribly hard off and on during the event, turning the roads into a muddy mess. B Roads were unrideable. We re-routed around a few, but by the end of the first day, the weather conditions had turned so sour we felt compelled to pull the plug on T.IV6 at approximately the halfway point in North English, Iowa.

Race Report: Here is the final race report as it appeared on the Trans Iowa V6 site:

04/29/10: The greatest part about Trans Iowa is the people that come to ride it. Their reports afterward are the stuff of T.I. legend. Here are some links to some great reading. Hopefully it will inspire you like it does us.

Tim Ek
Jason Buffington and Jason Buffington Take Two
Charlie Farrow and Charlie Farrow Take Two
Joe Meiser
Charly Tri
Matt Gersib
Corey “Cornbread” Godfrey
Sean Mailen
Eric Brunt
Troy Krause
Ari Andonopoulous
And one from a T.I.V6 Volunteer: Paul Buchanan

If you have a Trans Iowa V6 report you’d like linked here, hit me with an e-mail and I’ll get it up. Enjoy!

04/25/10: Trans Iowa V6 was a perfect example of what I write a lot of times about this event: The weather is the wildcard.

The event, which saw 57 competitors toe the line this year, was affected from the very beginning by the weather and was cut short due to the tremendous rain, worsening winds, and roads that were deteriorating as the event wore on. Still, I have not heard a single complaint about how things went down from any of the riders who all enjoyed what they could of what was for many, the most brutal riding they had ever done in their lives.

Starting in front of Grinnell’s Bikes To You shop in the downtown area, riders took off in heavy fog and mist into the dank blackness at 4am in the morning on Saturday. Before 20 miles had been completed, lightning was noticed in the area, which grew in intensity and closeness to the point that the event was in danger of being cut short at Checkpoint #1. Fortunately, the weather cleared the area without putting anyone in danger, but we saw some rain. The state of the roads then became an issue for a big part of the field.

In Iowa, we have what we call “B Maintenance” roads which vary from destroyed gravel, to straight dirt, to grass two track. There was a one mile section of B Road going into Checkpoint #1 that was so mucky that riders were forced off their bikes and had to hike the entire mile. This in combination with soft roads caused 30 riders to not meet the checkpoint cut off time of 8am, which was 44 miles into the event.


The weather improved the rest of the morning until about noon when cloud cover built back in and by 2pm the rain kicked back into gear which was only a warning shot of what was to come. The remaining riders took what was dealt them and ground out the miles towards Checkpoint#2 which was approximately 88 miles from the first checkpoint. The roads continued to be a problem for many as the tires of their bicycles were cutting into the gravel/mud/water mixture of the road surface. This was eating into their energy reserves, their resolves, and most importantly, their time to make the checkpoint cut off of 5pm.

By the late afternoon, it was becoming apparent that the weather conditions were going to worsen. We had reports that rain would become heavy, winds were going to increase to 30mph, and the road conditions would therefore deteriorate even more. With riders barely on time to make cutoffs, it was the determination of David Pals and I to truncate the event and get the riders to a safe, warm place before the situation became dire. So it was that at the time we made the decision to pull the riders at 7pm, there were only 8 riders left on course. They included the following people.

Joe Meiser


John Gorilla


Corey “Cornbread” Godfrey


Matt Braun


Eric Brunt


Jay & Tracey Petervary (Tandem)


Charles Parsons


These people would become the “finishers” of this version of Trans Iowa, which became the second shortest in distance of the six so far. (V2 being the shortest)

I wrote a detailed race report which took about seven posts on my blog. Here are the links to that:

The Meat-Up

The Start And The Beginning Of The End

A Ray Of Sunshine

The Unravelling

Seven Bikes- Eight People

Post Race

Final Thoughts

And here is a list of great post race reports by riders in the event. These seem to get better every year!

Tim Ek

Jason Buffington

Charlie Farrow and Charlie Farrow Take Two

Joe Meiser

Charly Tri

Matt Gersib

Corey “Cornbread” Godfrey

Sean Mailen

Eric Brunt

Troy Krause

Ari Andonopoulous

Finally, a good friend and Trans Iowa volunteer at T.I.V6, Paul Buchanan, (known by some as The Blue Colnago), penned this tome on Trans Iowa after his experiences witnessing the event from the sidelines up close and personal. I think Paul captures the esscence of Trans Iowa in a few short words better than I could in a novel! Well, you read it and make up your own mind………
“T.I.vVI” by Paul Buchanan, as seen on his blog, The Blue Colnago.

Judy and I went to Grinnell this past weekend to help G-Ted and DP with Trans Iowa v. 6. Whoa! Our job was to man checkpoint 3 until the cut-off time of 1 a.m. 207 miles into a 314 mile race. The forecast called for showers with about 3/10ths of an inch of rain over the weekend. I believe that the Grinnell area received an inch and a half on Friday night alone. More on Saturday and Saturday night. The dirt and gravel roads sucked that moisture up like a sponge. Mud.
57 brave souls toed the line at 4 a.m. heading out for the 44 miles to checkpoint 1 in Monroe, Iowa. 27 of them made the cut-off time of 4 hours. Checkpoint 2 was 87 miles away from Monroe at What Cheer. Several made the 5 p.m. cut-off, but only 8 moved on toward checkpoint 3. None of them made it. The race was called and then ended in North English.
It was brootal.
And beautiful.
The fact that 57 started this 314 mile death march sends shivers up my spine. 314 miles of gravel and “B” maintenance roads. Rural, desolate, isolated Iowa farm country. Mud. Rain. Thunder. Lightning. Wind. 33 hours to complete it. Not one minute more. 57 people facing this huge challenge, willingly.
A test of oneself against Mother Nature and the backroads of Iowa. A test of one’s physical conditioning and mental power. The ability to suffer and bear it. How do these folks keep going when the body and the mind say “stop”?
The physical effort required to make it to checkpoint 1 was superhuman. Those that went on from there were nothing short of amazing. To leave from checkpoint 2 and head toward checkpoint 3 in the prevailing conditions bordered on insanity. It would require another superhuman effort to travel those 76 miles. 1 a.m. cut-off. 107 miles to go after checkpoint 3 to the finish.
The dark loneliness of rural Iowa backroads. Wet, cold, and hungry. Riding a bicycle with only your own thoughts to keep you company….
But it wasn’t to be. Not this year. Mother Nature had the final say in this version of Trans Iowa. The race was called at about 7 p.m. The halfway point. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last. Mother Nature can throw a mean pitch. When she shows her full fury, she always wins.
Everyone who starts the race knows this outcome is a possibility. In the springtime. In Iowa. It happens. Yet, 57 people faced the challenge. They toed the line and started the race. They took off in the dark to find a convenience store in a small town 44 miles of “B” roads and gravel away.
Each racer hoped to make the checkpoint on time and move toward the next. Each knew that the physical and mental aspects of this undertaking were huge. Each knew that they may not make it. Yet they tried. They took up the challenge. They were willing to face whatever was on the road ahead of them.
They all have my respect. Each and every one of them. This race is, without a doubt, the most difficult adventure many of these people will ever face. Even if the roads were dry and the weather were perfect, it would be a huge challenge for even the best prepared racers.
I suspect that most of these 57 people will register for this race again next year. They will toe the line at 4 a.m. in some small, still sleeping, out of the way town in the countryside of Iowa, hoping for a good result in what will possibly be the most difficult challenge of their lives.
It sends shivers up my spine.
Ride safe.
Peace out, yo!
The Conclusions: Well, how can you say anything but “Wow!” As my co-director David Pals said, “Despite the weather, I think the event was a success.” Is that a crazy statement? Is it a sublime truth? Maybe both at the same time. Trans Iowa is a different sort of event that seems to engender a special bond between it and each competitor that dares take it on. It also forges a bond between competitors that is at once unspoken, but full of understanding. It has gone beyond the insane ultra-endurance challenge it started out to be and has become a mythical beast with superstitions and magic and a certain romanticism that goes beyond reasoning. I can not explain it, and I have been here since the beginning of it all. I just know that it is.
Perhaps a bit of insight can be gained from the comments of T.I.V2 and V6 vet, Dave Mable who explained to me that he still has nightmares about T.I.V2. Yet even so, he said to me that he will, “keep entering my postcard every year until I finish one of these.”  It is that sort of thing that Trans Iowa can do to an individual. I’ve seen it several times. Another viewpoint can be garnered from Kristin Riching, a T.I. vet, who told me that, “I want to come back next year and see just how far I can get in good weather.”
How far can one get? How far can you push yourself? What conditions can you bear that you never thought you possibly could? These are the questions each Trans Iowa competitor faces every year.
This may be why they keep coming back…..to search for the answers.

One Response to “Trans Iowa V6”

  1. Blue Says:

    it was good, g-ted. some people sit at home and watch tv, others go out and live life. i may attempt this beast someday, just to see how far i can go. :)

    thanks for letting me be a small part of it.

    ride safe.

    peace out, yo!

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