Trans Iowa V8

This is the page featuring everything concerning Trans Iowa V8..………

Post T.I.V7: This time there would be no finish line decisions to do another Trans Iowa between myself and David. We each went our separate ways after the event. It was a highly stressful time for the both of us, and having gotten through it all without major catastrophe was enough. While having 18 finishers, the first female finisher in Janna Vavra, and folks from Grinnell anxious to have us back again, it would seem like more than enough to prompt an instant decision to come back again for a V8, but it wasn’t. At least I didn’t get that feeling afterward from David, and I was just glad it was over.

The truth of the matter was that I was a bit upset about how the two weeks prior to the event went down, and about the route miscues. (Pun intended) I had solidly made up my own mind during the event that I could do better than I had for this one. I didn’t want this to be my last effort at putting on a Trans Iowa. I wasn’t blaming anyone for anything. I just knew I had a better effort in me. I wanted another chance to prove that.

David Pals

The Changes: A big, (but not totally unexpected), change came when David Pals, my co-director through four years of Trans Iowa events, decided to quit his co-directorship and told me he was out on June 20th, 2011. David was instrumental in getting Trans Iowa off life support, when after T.I.V3, I was a thread’s width from pulling the plug on the whole deal. David’s efforts in helping with the route finding, recon, and doing the cue sheets was invaluable to me, and made putting on those four Trans Iowas a heck of a lot easier. (Thanks David! You’ll be missed by many.)

At this point a T.I.V8 had not been publicly announced, but as I stated, I was determined to put the event on again. A big hole was created by David’s departure, to be sure, but I had some offers of help already, and a basic plan for doing the route in mind as well.

Media: The coverage of Trans Iowa used to be limited to my blog, the Trans Iowa site, “Trans Iowa Radio”, and the Endurance forum on mtbr.com. That all changed with T.I.V7, which was the most heavily documented version of the event so far. An article in issue #157 of “Dirt Rag”, and a documentary film entitled “300 Miles Of Gravel” by Jeff Frings released in May 2012 were unprecedented. Many smaller mentions in magazines like “Bicycling“, “Urban Velo”, and others also made Trans Iowa more well known and covered than ever before. Obviously, that level of scrutiny couldn’t be upheld another year, (or so I thought), so I didn’t expect, or hear about any media action for T.I.V8 early on. A change that was fine with me after all the hoopla surrounding T.I.V7.

One of the more interesting developments surrounded the film and early on it was suggested that the premier for “300 Miles Of Gravel” be in Grinnell  at  the Pre-Race Meet-Up.  Then we had Dave Mable offer to cover T.I.V8 as an “in-race reporter” for “Iowa Momentum Magazine”. Finally, we had Steve Fuller offer to come back again and be our “Official Photographer” for the event. Well, I guess we were going to have media coverage again after all!

The second “plowboy” header done by Jeff for T.I.V8

Route Finding And Planning: Summer went by quickly, and still no real movement on T.I.V8. Until late August, that is, when I publicly   announced the event. Then shortly after, Jeff Kerkove made a great parody of a can of V8 Vegetable Juice, and designed a fantastic header for  the  T.I. site. Consider yourself lucky if you actually saw it! Not more than a couple weeks later, a cease and desist letter was e-mailed to me from three Campbell’s Food Inc lawyers. Seems they didn’t find any humor in the parody! Jeff quickly conjured up “The Plowman” header instead.

By late September I had only drafted a route to Checkpoint #1 in Montezuma.  In late October, the recon got underway with a plan to go further south than ever before. Important bridges needed to be verified, and the first third of the route reconned from Checkpoint #1, planned for Montezuma, Iowa, was done which accounted for approximately 118 miles. The first leg to Montezuma was scheduled for 52 miles. So approximately 170 miles was pretty much accounted for by this time. Some snares were encountered on the return leg, where the route crossed the Des Moines River for the second time, but as of November 26th, 180 plus miles had been checked out visually.

January brought some unusually warm weather just after New Year’s Day and I took advantage of this by doing the final big recon of the course on January 8th. There was no snow and it was a glorious day to be out driving. (Like that will ever happen again!) So it was that I found out I was about 20 miles short and I would need to get a few more miles tacked on to get to my goal of 320. But all the course was good otherwise, and now I could start the process of doing the cue sheets. I ended up adding on the required route mileage which came out to approximately 326 miles. The last bits in Marshall County were not reconned, but I went ahead and finished the cue sheets in January. Now all that remained was a final rechecking with Wally and George in late March to verify everything before the cues went to print.

The cue sheet check went well on March 24th, only a few minor mistakes were discovered and a closed road that forced a re-route adding a mile and a few tenths to the total. The mileage figure was now 327.8. Checkpoint names were changed to Checkpoint Alpha, Bravo, and a “secret checkpoint” named Charlie. This was to be run by a couple guys as a way to see that riders were doing okay and to provide a much needed re-supply point since convenience stores were in short supply.

Grinnell Hosts Again: By November I had again contacted Grinnell Chamber of Commerce events director, Sheryl Parmley, and asked about having T.I.V8 in Grinnell. The answer was an enthusiastic “yes”, and an announcement was made concerning this. Lodging prices were procured that held the line for prices set when we brought T.I.V6 to Grinnell. Cool! A sponsor also jumped in about this time, Gu Energy was again on board. The T.I. buzz started up again, and e-mails with offers to help with volunteering, confirmations of hotel registrations, and general banter started up with earnest right off the bat. The Pre-Race Meat-Up was also scheduled to happen again at The Grinnell Steakhouse.

Registration: Announcement of Registration details went out on Guitar Ted Productions blog November 13th, 2011. Things were to be handled as the year before, with the then current list of 59 finishers having first crack at the roster spots, which were again limited to 100 riders. The registration for the Finishers started on “Black Friday”, November 25th, and all others could send in post cards on December 2nd for a week. Registration cut off was set for December 1oth.

An initial rush of 18 Finishers started out the first day, with nary a trickle afterward. Eventually 22 Finishers took their spot on the roster. Then it was time to open things up to the Rookies and Vets. Rookies filled up their quota in two days, but the Vets didn’t quite finish their allotment and a lone spot went to another Rookie on December 10th, the last day for registration. We ended up with about 15 folks, all rookies, on the Waiting List. One Industry Cup fella, and in a new category, we had an offer from Dave Mable, a T.I. Vet, and Editor of “Iowa Momentum”, to become our first “in race reporter”.  We had one claim a Volunteers exemption, so in the end, we had 103 on the Official Roster for T.I.V8. And speaking of The Waiting List, I got pestered so much about that, I was fully convinced by late December to never do one again. Not worth the time I had to invest into e-mail replies and explanations.

The really odd thing was that when drops did start happening in late December and early January, not a single person on the Waiting List I contacted wanted in, or would even reply back. So again, it just seemed like a bunch of wasted time. Added to this was the fact that folks were asking to get in yet as late as the end of January, which I could not allow, or why even have Registration and rules? It was just a really odd and frustrating deal this time around.

By the time the Waiting List (thankfully) expired, I had 96 total folks signed on to ride, including the three exemptions. By the end of February the roster had whittled down to 89 riders.

Country Church on T.I.V8′s route

Sponsors: As of November 30th, I had Gu Energy, a shop from Illinois called “Wheel Werks”, Oakley, and Salsa Cycles. In January Clif Bar re-committed to T.I. as well. Early March saw Ergon committing to a sponsorship and Clif Bars arrived at the shop for the event. Finally, Velocity stepped up again, offering a nice A-23 wheel set as a prize.

The Lead Up: The final weeks before the event were marked by drier weather than in years past. Much needed rains came the first weekend of April and on the second weekend. It was thought that only a torrential rainy period could possibly make T.I.V8 into a quagmire.

Cue sheets went to print starting on April 16th, and were completed and stuffed into baggies a week before the event. The roster had come down in numbers dramatically from February to 75 riders overall. No record this year! Other final details all seemed to be falling into place as 105 orders for meals went in to the Grinnell Steakhouse, and other minor details were coming together nicely.

A final course check the weekend before the event by Jeremy Fry and Steve Fuller showed that the recent rains had made the roads around Grinnell messy, but otherwise, things looked great. The roster lost a couple more folks by the Tuesday before the event. Now down to 73. Rookie class was only 26 this year after last year’s record of 40. The weather looked to be cool, maybe a tad wet with showers on Saturday, and windy with winds from the Northeast forecast.

The Event: While the days leading up to T.I.V8 were very dry, the evening of the Pre-Race, it rained, thundered, and lightninged all night long right up to the start of the event. A couple more folks dropped right before the Pre-Race, so I  took down 71 bags for the event. Then we had 4 no-shows, so the actual starting field was 67 for this edition of Trans Iowa.

With wet roads, chilly temperatures in the low 40′s, and a strong East wind at 26-30mph, the event didn’t look to be a promising one from my standpoint. However; 55 people made it through the first checkpoint, (a record), 38 people made it through the second checkpoint, (a record), and the unofficial “Checkpoint Charlie” had 30 people go through. There were 19 finishers in all. All of them complained about the East headwind for the last 20 plus miles along with unceasing hills and tons of fresh rock. All made the riders struggle to attain to 10mph at the end of the 330 miles. Other than the wind, it wasn’t a bad weather year, thus breaking “The Curse” idea that several veteran T.I. riders ascribed to the even year races.

Following are links to my reports on the event:

Riders in the lead group past Checkpoint Alpha

1- Pre Race Jitters

2- The Start- Wet And Windy!

3- Part III- To A New Horizon

4- Part IV- Unwanted Excitement

5- Part V- Station To Station

6- Part VI- Broken, Busted, And Blown

The event seemed to go without a hitch, and everyone was very complimentary in regard to how everything was. The movie “330 Miles of Gravel”, which was shown at the Pre-Race Meat-Up, was a hit, and an offer to riders to obtain a copy was made at the meeting. From the start to the very end at the finish, the event did not see any snags, troubles, or other negative issues from an organizational standpoint.

Riders were beyond complimentary to the Volunteers, and the Volunteer crew this year was the biggest I’ve had at a Trans Iowa ever. Cue sheets were universally said to have been “spot on”. The troubles from last year were definitely rectified.

Conclusions: Best run Trans Iowa ever? Quite possibly. Certainly the fact that the weather ended up cooperating, making it a finish-able event, made the event seem more successful from my standpoint. The riders seemed to all be in agreement that the event went smoothly, from the “ahead of schedule” pre-race meeting, to the cues, and finally to the volunteers at checkpoints, so the event got a stamp of approval. Records were set for riders still out on course throughout the entire event. Only the amount of finishers fell short of the record set in T.I.V3 when we had 24 cross the line that year.

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