Trans Iowa V4

This post is dedicated to all things related to Trans Iowa V4 which was the first run with co-director David Pals on board.

The Changes: Keeping in mind that I just about died from Trans IowaV3, I was not very excited about ever doing another one. Several factors played into this. First, Jeff was gone for good. His hiring at Ergon took him to Colorado and his duties just wouldn’t allow him to be a real part of putting on anymore Trans Iowa events. So, in my mind, since he instigated the whole deal, I felt like I should scuttle it in honor of him. Then I was also loath to do it alone, and in fact said I would not do it alone to anyone who asked about a V4. Finally, my wife and family were against my doing it at all, but especially on my own. Well, you can see that I was in need of some help, and help did come.

David Pals, a former starter of Trans Iowas V2 and V3, decided to hop on board with me to lend a hand, so with that, V4 was announced in August of 2007. So, with a renewed energy, I looked forward to putting on another event with the help of David. David also had a great back round in Iowa geography and knew the area where the race was held quite well. This all was to be a big plus in our plans to put together the best T.I. yet devised.

As far as changes went, we didn’t have anything really too major. The registration was changed (again!) to reflect the dedication that the “veterans” of the event had shown. So, with that in mind the veterans were allowed to send in a post card first with a week advance on the opening up of the roster to any and all comers with a limit of 75. I maintained a Waiting List, to shuffle folks in that didn’t get in when there was a drop. The system worked well, and we had fewer no shows than we had in previous events. The course was changed again, but was still a loop out of and back into Decorah.

The recon of the course proved rather difficult when on the weekend after Thanksgiving the ice storm we had shut down any opportunities we were banking on to use for recon. The weather was unrelenting and never really let up until March. David and I did a little recon in January on a sub zero day. But the majority had to be done in one shot in March and was a grueling trip due to the short supply of time before the event. Frost heaves and road damage was apparent already, but what we didn’t realize was that it would be worse on the day of the event. Much worse!

So, the sponsors came through again, although we didn’t have so much booze this time! And actually, it was the lightest sponsorship we had had yet. The pre-race was to be held at T-Bock’s, but this time it was downstairs instead of on the old third story. We had a spaghetti dinner arranged, which went over really well. Probably the best of the pre-race meet ups since V1.

David’s presence made the job a lot easier, and we came up with two groups of volunteers that were awesome to man the two checkpoints. The whole event, despite the weather difficulties, came together far easier than the last time I did the event.

The Weather: A mention of the weather had to be made here. The weather is always a factor in Trans Iowa, but this time it nearly shut down the event before it started. Besides the aforementioned frost heaves and winter damage, rain nearly flooded out the course in several places that I knew about and did flood it out in places I didn’t know about. In the end, the weather made the biggest impression on this version of Trans Iowa, and once again controlled the destinies of those that took part in it. Here are the entries I put on my blog after Trans Iowa V4……….The recon right before the eventTrans Iowa Recap #1Trans Iowa Recap #2Trans Iowa Recap #3Trans Iowa Recap #4Trans Iowa Recap #5Trans Iowa Recap #6

After the recaps, I wrote the following piece on my blog, which was a reflection on what worked, what might get changed, and a glimpse into my/David’s thoughts on future Trans Iowa courses.

Okay, it’s time for some final thoughts, some tidbits that didn’t really fit into the story, to be told here, and then I’m moving on…..

The Shortened Course: I don’t suppose any past T.I. finishers will argue, but some might, that there should be an “asterisk” by the names of the finishers of this years course. Here’s why I don’t think that is necessary: every year is different. Period. That’s one of the reasons I like doing a different course every year. You can’t compare one T.I. to another. Similar? Yes, but definitely not the same. that’s by design, and how it should be. As for having to do the shortened course, I am at peace with it. It was the right thing to do, and there isn’t really anything else to be said.

Finish Line: Here is one real regret: That more folks couldn’t have joined in the fun at the finish. That was most unfortunate. Of course, by the time I announced it on T.I. Radio, it was about what, 11:30 pm? Most folks are not going to hop in their cars for an hour drive to hang with some sweaty, tired riders at that hour. It was just a bit too far from Decorah and not easy to get to. Not that it mattered. I mean, we were on the borderline of getting into trouble as it was with the few folks we did have hanging out in Edgewood. Of course, the next morning we were done and outta there by 8:30am, so not really a great time to come and hang out then either. Oh well, I did actually announce where the finish line was before the event, but that didn’t work out obviously. Next year, (if there is a next year) it will revert back to the “secret” finish line and ya’all will have to pay attention to T.I.Radio to find out what is going on. That seems like the most workable plan as of now.

Pre-Race Hangout/Meeting: That T-Bock’s meet up was pretty good. I think T-Bock’s was pretty stoked about it too. They were really puzzled by the amount of beer consumed before an event like T.I. Heck, haven’t they heard of carb loading? Well, whatever the case, it was a great time and I think everyone made a few new connections there. I know I did. Of course, it was the only chance I got to see some familiar faces too, but it was waaaay too short a time.

Two Checkpoints: That idea was a success. No doubt about it. And we have a lot more to do to tweak it out to be better if we run T.I. again… Cell phone coverage is one thing we didn’t even consider, and that should be better by next year, but we would need to make sure. A couple more eyes on the field with the photographers was a good deal too. That saved us a few times.

Is Decorah Getting Old? I bet I could pull off at least two completely new courses outta Decorah, but even last year we were discussing “moving” T.I. around the state. Is it too good up in North East Iowa? Hmm…….I know it is hard to beat, but I also know that other places in Iowa would be super cool too. While we would probably not ever do a point to point again, I wouldn’t rule it out. Also, the distance to recon the roads becomes a factor, so for now, if there is another T.I., it’ll be close to home unless there is a compelling reason to take it elsewhere.

What About The Date?: Here’s something that has been brought up since the first Trans Iowa. Why late April? Well, originally it was because guys are usually looking for base miles anyway, or so we thought then. Now we know that guys are training for Trans Iowa all winter long and taking it much more seriously than we had expected four years ago. But in the end, I always wanted to keep it on the last weekend of April. Now there is a “wrench” in the works that has caused me to take stock of when another Trans Iowa might take place. If there is another Trans Iowa, it will be at a different time, but not far from when it is now probably. Maybe a weekend later, maybe not. We’ll see, I’m not thinking about that just yet. I just know what date it can’t be on!

So….What Are You saying?: I know right now that without any reservations that I would say yes to a Trans Iowa in 2009…….but there are reservations! I love doing the event, I really do, but it’s stupid. Really stupid from a financial point of view, really stupid from a time spent on it point of view, and really dumb from a family point of view. But then again, I don’t care about the money, and the time invested is worth it from other standpoints. The family thing? Well……yeah, that sucks. Maybe my kids will like traveling gravel later, but I tried it with the family last year and they were non-plussed. I guess it all depends on how much I dare to be stupid again. Stay tuned! Whatever happens I will say that I have not regreted doing a Trans Iowa with the possible exception of last year which just about killed me. Even that one turned out great and was a hoot really. I have enjoyed all the folks I have worked with- Jeff and now David- very very much. The volunteers have been fantastic, from Jeff’s parents to the crew from ’08. To all of you, I say a huge thanks. It wouldn’t happen without any one of you. And the folks that I have met that have participated: Wow! What can I say. You guys and gals are fantastic! Trans Iowa V4

The End!


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