Trans Iowa (V1)
Note: The Event was originally known as “Trans Iowa” and the “V1” was added after the second event was announced.
The Lead Up: Going into this event was like going into a new job for the first time. We were excited, we wanted to do it well, and we had no idea of what it was really like, looking back on it now. I will admit up front that we were under-prepared and very naive.
Jeff was in the event to boot! That left me and his family in Algona at the only checkpoint as the sole overseers of the first Trans Iowa. Pretty amazing when you think about that fact! To have it go as well as it did with as much help from unasked from places, well it was a miracle.
Previous to the actual event, Jeff and I drove the entire course. We found out our maps were wrong. We found B Maintenance roads. We got turned around with our mileage and cue directions in a couple of places. We handed out a flyer to every single farm mailbox on the first half of the route! These explained to be on the lookout for cyclists on that April weekend. (We grew pretty tired of doing this and we stopped delivering flyers somewhere around Pilot Knob. )
Jeff wrote up press releases and sent them to every local newspaper on the route and alerted every police and Sheriff’s office along the entire route. Not one response was received back except from the police chief in Forest City. We deemed all of that a waste of time.
Jeff also arranged for Hawarden, Iowa to be the start town with offers of overnight accommodations in peoples homes for racers and a pre-race meet-up at The Pizza Ranch restaurant the night before the event started. There we met all the racers for the first time and handed out the well stuffed swag bags with the cue sheets for the first half of the event. Ergon grips were part of that, as were Tifosi sunglasses.
The Event: The day dawned cool and clear, but Jeff and I were up long before the sun was. We were getting set ahead of time for all the racers to show up at the local high school parking lot. We left our host home where Jeff, racer Carl Buchanan, his wife Amy, racer Jeff Slade, and myself stayed the evening. Our gracious hosts provided us with an excellent breakfast before I went to fetch Jeff some “black goodness” and more importantly, water.
At the start, the riders slowly assemble in the chilly air. I held a brief pre-race meeting under the watchful eyes of a gnome placed up on the tailgate of the Europa Cycle and Ski van. (These gnomes, of which there were five of, I purchased to set out on the course for fun as the event went on.) Afterwards the riders lined up behind the van, and at 8am sharp I tooted the horn on the van, pulling out onto the two mile controlled roll out. (A visage of which can be seen above.)
After running the riders out onto the gravel, I pulled away ahead of them, checking the roads as I went as a last defense against any possible road closings, or other trouble ahead of the riders. I avoided the first two B roads but I foolishly attempted to drive on the third and final section, which was nearly my undoing. Barely passing through with a lot of prayers and fear of getting the shop van stuck 300 miles from home, I went on through to Algona where I stopped to see the riders coming in.
I waited a long time at the checkpoint, but stayed only an hour or so there after the riders started coming in. I became the defacto “point man” for all things related to the event, which wasn’t too big a deal. That is, until I started getting some heat from support crew people that thought the time cut off was unfairly sprung on the riders at the start line, and were wanting me to extend, or even abolish it. Things were getting confused and my urgency to leave caused me to allow an extra hour for folks to utilize as time to get through Algona. In the end, it didn’t matter, but point taken!
Finally, I became concerned about reports coming in that an injured rider was off course and worse, was belligerently refusing aid. Once again, being the only guy connected with the running of the event, I was learning that some things were maybe not addressed as well as they should have been in the beginning.
This happened three more times during the course of the event, where I learned a few things. First it was at Pilot Knob, where I scrambled to run three miles, setting up tape and flags to get riders through there. All before the sun set, which was about an hour after I got there. Oh, and I had never seen the trail with my own eyes until that very moment! Needless to say, that section didn’t work out very well, but a gracious group of onlookers guided them through for me on the paved park roads.
Second time? In the middle of the night, parked in Lourdes, Iowa, unable to stay awake. I had to doze off for a bit, but when I woke up, I dared not drive over 20mph, because I was such a wreck!
Third time? In Cresco, Iowa where I was parked to see that riders coming through would be tallied and their progress into Decorah be called in to the Decorah Time Trial folks who were to be on guard waiting for them. I fell asleep once again, and even though I thought I missed Ira Ryan and Brian Hannon going by, I actually didn’t. However; at the time, I was none the wiser and those two came in unannounced, which caused me some friction later on with the Decorah folks.
The Aftermath: In the end, Trans Iowa was deemed a success by most folks. At least the idea of it was. Many said to have it again the next year and Jeff and I were very encouraged by that. There was a lot of “buzz” and stories about the event in Iowa that only nine guys could finish. It gained a lot of credibility due to the names on that first roster, many of which came at the insistence of Jeff Kerkove. Many of those same names didn’t finish the event either, which made it even more remarkable, I suppose.
Some of the guys that I am referring to were/are legendary in the elite endurance community. Folks like Steve Fassibinder, Mike Curiak, and Ernesto Marenchin. They didn’t master the event, which also helped to foment the “classic status” of Trans Iowa out of the gate. At any rate, the status of Trans Iowa was set pretty high right off the bat, which pretty much floored Jeff, and I was just not even quite aware of what it had become already.
We were encouraged to start digging into another Trans Iowa right away though, and within a few weeks, Jeff and I had a head full of ideas that we would take into Trans Iowa V2.