Trans Iowa V7

This is the page that relates to all things Trans Iowa V7:

In another stunning show of silliness, David Pals and I decided to run another Trans Iowa right away after T.I.V6 was truncated due to incredibly rainy, windy weather conditions that were a danger to the riders. While it seemed to be another blow to the event, once again, we were surprised to find out it was another “myth builder”. Folks started talking about how every even numbered year Trans Iowa was unfinishable. While I do not hold to such superstitions, I can see how they arise. It isn’t easy to have dedicated your whole winter to training and discipline only to have it all wiped out within 44 miles.

Reconning S Ave. in Iowa County, October 2010- image by D. Pals

The Changes:

With about half a course left unknown to anyone but David and I, and with the exceptional experience we all had with the town of Grinnell, it was a “no-brainer” to come back to that site and plan another course. Obviously, we were going to use as much of the still secret T.I.V6 course as we could. Adding to it would be easier and should allow for a quick recon before winter, if we were diligent about getting on the stick!

This prompted the weekly night gravel grinders David and I were doing in the early summer. These were ostensibly for fun, but underneath it all, we were looking for routes for T.I.V7 as well. Obviously, we would also do some automobile based recon later on also.

At the post race gathering at The Barn for T.I.v6, David and I found ourselves in the company of T.I. vets John Gorilla, Joe Meiser, Charles Parsons, and newcomer Jay Petervary. An opportunity sprung into my mind. Here we had assembled some good sounding boards. I asked them, “If you could change anything about Trans Iowa, what would you do? What criticisms would you level against it?” Besides a nearly universal, “nothing”, we got a great suggestion from John Gorilla, who stated we needed to do something about the registration. He had an idea about letting folks that had actually finished a T.I. have first crack at the roster, and then some other discussion was had amongst the esteemed company as to how the rest should fall out. David and I definitely saw some room for tweaking, and that it was time to expand the roster.

The Organizing: With that info tucked under our collective belts, we set out to forget about Trans Iowa for awhile. Gravel grinders, off road rides, and vacations were had throughout the summer months, but by late August, the tug of Trans Iowa was felt again. I contacted Jeff Kerkove again to see if he was still interested in doing another header, which he was. I also started to check into the route maps again. By Labor Day 2010, we had a new header and Trans Iowa V7 was “officially” set into motion.

Header designed by Jeff Kerkove

The months of inactivity on the Trans Iowa side of life were not all in vain. We were often reminded of how Trans Iowa was different in the culture of gravel grinding. The Dirty Kanza 200, Trans Wisconsin, and other events we participated in all re-enforced our resolve to keep Trans Iowa the self-supported, self navigated challenge it had been forged into being over the past six versions. We realized that on one hand, gravel grinding was more popular than ever, (as evidenced by my own site, Gravel Grinder News, which uncovered a slew of here-to-fore unheard of gravel grinder and back road events.), but on the other hand, Trans Iowa, by its very nature, would only attract a certain number of participants who would actually show up. In the end, a roster expansion was agreed upon. At least 100 entrants would be allowed, up from a possible 75, and maybe more, depending upon developments.

By the end of September, David and I had found some more pieces to the puzzle in putting the route together through our gravel grinding. I also made a decision on Registration, which David agreed to. We would allow the finishers, all 48 of them, first crack at the 100 open spots. Whatever was left over would be divided up between the Veterans and Rookies. October 1st marked the beginning of the registration for finishers.

I also found out at about this time that I had inadvertently picked Easter Weekend as the date for Trans Iowa. It wasn’t until I heard from a former T.I. rider that I knew this. Not even the Grinnell folks had told me, or asked about it, and we had a block of rooms already set aside for those dates when I found out about it. Oh well! David and I agreed to forge ahead anyway. And forge we did. Throughout the month of October, we went from 50% done to 100% done with recon. By October 31st, it was all in the books! Amazing! Only fine tuning would be necessary along with a re-check in the spring.

Registration: The Veterans were allowed to register the second week of November and we allotted 40 spots, since the Finishers only took 20 off the top. In a big surprise to me, we didn’t fill out all 40 spots and the 11 left overs went into the pool for Rookie registration the following week. The Vets and rookies had to answer a question and put the answer on their post cards, a new wrinkle I added. The Vet question came from d.p.: “What cycling event took place on Easter in 1897?” (A: Paris-Roubaix). The Rookies had to copy “The Golden Rule” from our rules on the T.I.V7 site. I figured this would help drill the idea of self support, self responsibility, and all into their collective heads. Rookies finally filled up the 51 spots available to them the day before registration cut off. The biggest rookie class signed on since T.I.V3. How many would show or not?   In total, with the volunteers who took their free spots on the Roster, and the 3 Industry Cup guys added in, we had 109 riders signed on. At this point d.p. and I figured we’d still get less than 70 to show up. There was no need for a Waiting List either, which meant roster attrition could set in earlier than ever before. The first drops came in late December, but we wouldn’t know for a few months if we’d be right about the final number of riders or not.

We used some primitive rail trail for the T.I.V7 course.

Grinnell On Board Again: Sheryl Parmley and Grinnell were getting it done for us again this time. The lodging deal and the Grinnell Steakhouse were all either sewn up by mid-November, or being worked on. We did have to get our start and finish lines figured out again, but we had planned on using the same as T.I.V6, and we had gotten verbal confirmations that this would be good to go at some point in our recon efforts. Still, with so much already done, it seemed rather odd that we were looking at winter with so little to take care of. Eventually, the barn thing fell through, but Sheryl Parmely came through again, and scored us Lion’s Park as a finishing area. Once again, we were “approved” by the City Council and Police for the event.

Roads started out a bit sloppy on Saturday

<===Image courtesy of Steve Fuller.

Media: During October, I was asked to take on the task of writing a 2500 word feature article on Trans Iowa V7 by “Dirt Rag”. This was due by about a week after T.I.V7! It was a huge opportunity though, so I said yes. The draft was sent in, along with photos by Steve Fuller. Also, we were graced by the presence of Jeff Fring and his wife, who filmed and interviewed riders and volunteers for a future documentary on the event. More info will be posted as these projects come to fruition.

Weeks Leading Up To T.I.V7: The weather had been rather dry, but just a week out, the rains came and suggestions that this would be another wet, unfinishable year started to swirl. That was one concern, but the worst part was that we didn’t have cue sheets lined up to check the route against. Unfortunately, David was up against 16-17 hour days all late winter and spring and barely got the stuff done on time. This caused a pinch in time to do anything about auto-routing that the program he used made, and were  unbeknown to us prior to final checking. So, portions of the route we had ridden or driven were not on the end route. Further complicating matters was that our intended route was too short. So, we had to add in a last minute loop which went okay, but at the time, was a stressful situation only two weeks out from the event. The final details on some things I figured would have been done weeks and months before back in October ended up becoming last minute potential land mines that were very nearly our undoing.

Trans Iowa History Made: Eventually, with attrition, the roster ended up being at 76 riders for the start. That’s a new record. We also started a record amount of “rookies” at 40 riders, and we had a record Women’s open field at 5 riders.  Of course, getting Janna Vavre as a finisher got us off the schnide with regards to having a women finish Trans Iowa. With all of that, 18 finishers was good, but still doesn’t beat the record of  T.I.V3, which arguably had the best weather we’ve ever had for a T.I.

Blog Links To The T.I.V7 story: Here are my links to the story:

History Is Made!

Pre-Race Meat-Up

Getting Started

Settling In

Hangin’ Around

Day Into Night Into Day

The Final Act Plays Out

Epilogue

Rider Re-Caps:

from Emily Brock, Tim Ek, Troy Krause, Jeremy Kershaw,Jeremy Kershaw Take Two, Ben Shockey, John Williams, Ari Andonopoulos‘ , and a short pre-recap by Charlie Farrow. Charlie posted his full report now here. A special perspective from first time female finisher of Trans Iowa, Janna Vavra can be read here. Sean Mailen’s reports: Part I, Part II, and Part III

Brief Re-cap Of The Event: For those looking for a “quick and dirty ” description of Trans Iowa v7, it ended up becoming one of those years when riders were not too hindered by weather related issues, and this allowed our 18 finishers to get in before 2pm on Sunday.  While it did start out wet, and the roads were messy to begin with, it wasn’t a situation where the roads were slow. There were two things that did conspire to end a few folks day a bit early though.

First of all, one thing was beyond our control. A week prior to the event, our photographer, Steve Fuller drove the first third of the event. No issues. However; on race day, we found a road  with a bridge out within the first ten miles or so. We re-routed around it as quickly as we could, but the riders were coming up on us very quickly. Now here is where it gets weird.

The last corner we needed to mark was a left, and going straight lead into a very wet B Road. Riders went head long into this and got about a mile and a half up the road before figuring out they were wrong, and turned back to re-join the route where they should be. The report was that corner was not marked. On my audio blog report, I clearly make reference to marking it, (before we knew of the snafu with regards to the riders), and David and I are quite sure we did mark it. However; riders on the scene swear it wasn’t marked. Did someone remove those last two markers? It would be hard to fathom, since the riders were probably to that point within mere minutes of our posting them.

In the end, it all caused a big time loss for the field which still had 35 plus miles to go to get into the checkpoint by 9:15am. Maybe that wouldn’t have been that big a deal, but when the sun rose shortly afterward, the wind came up straight out of the west. This headwind combined with super steep slopes going westward into that 25mph wind made the time cut off loom large. In fact, it bit a lot of folks again this year.  26 riders missed the checkpoint cut off.

Riders walk 270th. A "B Road" in Tama County

<===Image Courtesy of Steve Fuller.

Then the ride settled into a place where we saw little problems and occasional drops here and there until Checkpoint #2 reported in after its 10pm close down to say that 22 riders were still in T.I.V7.  Quite a few hit the checkpoint, but called it quits after 173 miles. Nightfall saw the 22 riders get sideways with regards to navigation at some points. Two spots seemed to have been the most trouble, but only 4 riders called it quits in the night and the other 18 made it in for a finish on the 330-ish mile course. (Note: We thought it should have been 322.8, but nearly everyone that finished had logged “bonus miles”, either at the B Road mishap early on, or during other miscues, so 330 seems about the average for finishers. John Gorrilla, who finished 5th, provided us with this from his GPS: “Trans Iowa V7 was 338.06 miles plus a few miles to the start and 19,396 feet of climbing.

Post Race: The post event situation was marked by lots of e-mailed appreciation/thank you notes. A couple of negative commenters served to put a damper on any excitement though, and the pre-event stresses combined with that to make the following week mostly forgettable. There was a deadline to be met for the story for “Dirt Rag”, and the normal post event tidying up which only postponed any post race recovery.

Still, the effervescent attitude of enthusiasm for the event was still seen amongst non-finishers, and even from some folks that have never been to a Trans Iowa. This still gives me the encouragement that Trans Iowa is something more than what it might appear to be at first glance. Those that understand the “intangibles” of Trans Iowa are the ones that really make the event keep going, at least from my perspective.

 Conclusions: Trans Iowa V7 has to be seen as another one of the “Odd Year” successes that riders have turned into a legend, despite my misgivings to such thoughts. It also has to be seen as a record breaking Trans Iowa, and a historical Trans Iowa. More starters than ever before, the largest “rookie class” ever, the largest field of women ever to start, and a female finisher of the event for the first time. Unofficially, it also is the longest Trans Iowa ever completed. (Rider stats seem to point to a confirmation of this) There was drama on the course, and challenges unforeseen for many. Ultimately, even with some snafus in regards to the road closure and a few cue sheet oddities, it was a “finish-able event” and from that standpoint, a success on the part of the organizers.

What was a concern was the pre-event issues that put extra stresses on us as organizers. This helped lead to some of the difficulties with regards to cue sheets. Some got resolved, with no effect to the riders, but some were not caught, and unfortunately, caused some frayed nerves out there. With regards to this, it is a difficult task for we as the organizers to overcome, since there are only two of us. However; it was something that if another Trans Iowa is run, will be addressed, and can easily be overcome.

From an organizational standpoint, we made advances, but there is always room for improvement. The conclusion from the organizational side was that T.I.V7 was a very stressful, but qualified success. From the rider feedback we got, it was a hit, once again.

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