Saying Goodbye To Trans Iowa

This page will deal with the reasons why I, Guitar Ted, decided to end Trans Iowa after 14 years of running events.

The End“. The words that come at the end of any good story. Those were the words I was striving for after Trans Iowa v7. I had just come out of a very emotionally draining, physically taxing Trans Iowa which, in all honesty, was very flawed. I developed a fire in my belly to make Trans Iowa the event I always knew it could be right then and there. I gave myself goals to achieve, and I wanted to “get it right” by the time I reached v10, because that was my goal all along: To reach a decade of doing TI’s and then just walk away from it. “The End” that I was striving for was this. This idea was something I think formulated in my mind around T.I.v5 or so, but the drive to the “finish” was found post v7. That’s really where it came into focus for me.

Whatever gets started has to have an end at some point. I chose “ten”. Ten was a nice, even number and I knew at some point I needed to cut back on several things that were wasting me away, taking a lot of energy and time in my life. Things which I was acutely aware of, and I knew I needed to address the situation. I backed out of doing the website work, editing, and reviewing for Twenty Nine Inches in 2014, which was a huge weight lifted off my back, but there was still a Trans Iowa. Why? I was supposed to have been done with that as well.

Trans Iowa v10 ended at “The Barn” where a few previous Trans Iowas had ended. I felt v10 was a great event. The feeling of the “gravel family” really was brought into its maturity, at least for Trans Iowa, at v10. It was a rich event with great story lines and epic struggles all across the field of entrants. There was a weather factor, and we had a decent amount of finishers. So, it was the perfect Trans Iowa to just walk away from. I wasn’t going to “officially”announce that “this was it“, but the word got around. You know how families are. So it was that I was leveraged pretty strongly by several folks who begged and pleaded with me to continue. I capitulated only because I had one or two more goals left unfinished that I wanted to tackle.

Goal number 1 was to get a covered bridge on the Trans Iowa route somehow. I had seen them marked on the maps, and I almost figured out how to get one into TIv8, but it just didn’t quite jive with the course. So, that was left out there. Then I wanted to go Southeast. Finally, I wanted to circumnavigate Des Moines as a way to give a nod to Gravel Worlds. So, I decided to continue with the event until I had achieved all my goals and wasn’t having fun anymore.

Of course, v11 was a wash. No one made it to CP#1 on time but Greg Gleason, and he went 128 miles. If you remember where he ended up, you can guess which goal that version of Trans Iowa was trying to achieve. V12 was something that popped up in my head where I wanted to bring TI close to home here in Waterloo, and that obviously happened. It wasn’t an “original goal”, but you can be thankful that it extended Trans Iowa an extra year!

T.I.v13 was maybe the best, from my standpoint. I notched two goals in one event- Covered bridges AND circumnavigating Des Moines. I was really satisfied it came off the way that it did. So, then that pretty much was it. So why a v14 at all?

Well, I wasn’t very motivated for it, I will say that much. However; I wanted to end it in a way where the riders would understand that this was “it”. There would be no cajoling, persuading, or going back. After v10, I realized “just walking away” wasn’t going to work. This had to have a “hard point” to end it and for me to be free of any thought of ever doing Trans Iowa again. This post is part of that “hard point”.

That didn’t mean it was easy to continue and do “just one more”. The wind had gone out of my sails, and honestly, putting on v14 was the hardest thing I had done with any TI since v3, probably. It was a total mental slog. I had motivational issues, and coming up with a basic course idea was tough. I finally decided to use a “Greatest Hits” sort of approach for the course. This also pointed out to me that “The End” needed to happen after TIv14. I wasn’t having fun, and I had run out of goals to keep me going.

The end of Trans Iowa meant I would have a LOT of explaining to do to my “gravel family” who were enthusiastic and wanted TI to go on forever. Of course, that was unrealistic thinking, but the feelings are real. My plan going in to the Pre-Race was to not spend any time saying “why” I was doing what I was doing, but to ask, just one more time, that the riders give me a clean event. And so that brings up a secret fear I have had for years about putting on Trans Iowa. That being that something “terrible” would happen.

It was a very tough fear to put down every year. A huge risk, and something I never, ever wanted to live through. I always have had a big comedown after any Trans Iowa, and a lot of that was due to being so tense about riders and their safety. Many folks who don’t know me color me as an uncaring, tyrannical, strict, and stubborn event director. They say I don’t care, or that I am a masochist, or some other malevolent terminology is used to describe my style. Nothing could be further from the truth, and many that do know me and that have spent time with me during a TI can vouch for that fact. Running TI tore me up inside. I just wanted to escape that eventually and be free.

Then there was the family. Not the “gravel family“, whom I love in a special way, but my blood family. My wife and two children. The kids are in high school now and in a few years they will be gone. Springtime will be filled with graduations and other stuff teenagers want their parents to be a part of. Trans Iowa stood in the way of a lot of that. I needed to clear my slate and be present with my kids and my ever enduring wife, Phyllis. So, I am stepping out of event promoting mainly to do what a good Father should do.

I think that about sums it up. I gave Trans Iowa my all. I did the very best I could do. I think I was successful, and I achieved my goals. Now others will have to write the legacy story of this event, because my time in it is over. Will I miss it? I am sure that I will. But I have rich, deep memories to last a lifetime and a LOT of people to get around to to give thanks. I am sure that will take a long time to get done. I look forward to seeing many of you in the years to come.

Finally- Thank you. I don’t have much, but I can say this. I am deeply thankful to anyone and all who had any part in Trans Iowa over the years. There are too many people to list. Some will say that Trans Iowa was all about Guitar Ted’s vision and dedication, but that is selling it way, way short. Trans Iowa was all about all the people involved. All of you.

The End.


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