Trans Iowa V9

This is the page that is concerned with everything on Trans Iowa V9:

Post T.I.V8: Back in the days of T.I.V5 and V6, I had a co-conspirator in David Pals to agree on doing another Trans Iowa right away after the previous one was finished. Although I did not have that influence this time, I did not have any compunctions in thinking about a T.I.V9, even while Trans Iowa V8 was winding down. There were several reasons for this.

One was the venue. Grinnell was super-supportive of Trans Iowa. More so than any other city we had visited, with the possible exception of Hawarden. The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce’s Sheryl Parmely was a super-friend of the event, and the rest of the principals, (Grinnell Steakhouse, Bikes To You/Craig Cooper), were also behind Trans Iowa big time. With several route choices not yet explored or made into combinations, the routes in and out of town were no issues.

Number two was because of the the people that had stepped up in David Pals wake: Wally Kilburg, George Keslin, Jeremy Fry, and others who made different aspects of recon and putting on Trans Iowa much less of a burden. Within a few weeks of T.I.V8, many of these same individuals and more were pledging support to Trans Iowa again.

Number three was the fact that I knew what I was doing in a much clearer way than ever before. Most of the major hurdles of knowledge had been cleared by V8, and all I needed to do was keep the bar set high and tweak out what needed tweaking out. How to do recon, cue sheets, checking, printing, rosters, e-mails, and more were all well known processes by now.

However; if any of those three things were to be unbalanced, or in need of total revamping, Trans Iowa would be a total pain. It was hoped that all would proceed as expected.

From a “Friday Night Lights” ride circa 2006

The Changes: As far as changes, there weren’t any major ones. I did away with the Waiting List though. It was such a hassle for T.I.V8, and I just didn’t want to put up with that nonsense again. Obviously, the site got a new header which went live on September 5th, 2012. A really clean design by Jeff Kerkove again that uses an image Jeff took of a Friday evening gravel grinder training ride he called “Friday Night Lights” and went west of Cedar Falls Iowa. That would have been about 2006, if I recall correctly. Also of note- the same image graced the header during T.I.V3 with different graphics for the printing.

Last time around, I ran registration at the very end of November and into December, but this time I determined to run all of registration before Thanksgiving to allow for a smoother flow and not get into the Christmas rush at work. Otherwise registration was run pretty much as it had been for the last few years. I also determined that the field limit would be raised to 120 riders. I figured it would allow for more Rookies to get in that wanted to.

In terms of volunteers, there was a bit of a change. Steve Fuller, who had done the photography for the previous two T.I’s, had entered the event for V9, and Wally and George, my two Checkpoint #2 stalwarts for the past two years moved into Steve’s place as the photography crew.

The Course: I had a few vague ideas coming out of spring about what I wanted to do for T.I.V9. I had a basic plan of visiting Ira, Iowa and making it Checkpoint Alpha to honor two time Trans Iowa winner, Ira Ryan. I also had thoughts of meandering through Marengo, Iowa to give a nod to David Pals. I was against going through Traer again, although that town seems to work so well in the route planning. Beyond that, a basic idea to go north was in the works, and the best bet for a challenging, scenic route was to go by the Iowa River valley. This meant crossing HWY 330, which I was completely against doing, but a possible solution in the form of a bike path tunneled under the highway was making this the go to route northward. I sketched out a route through Ira and north by mid-August.

By Labor Day weekend, I had confirmation by Jeremy Fry, who was helping out, that the bike path tunnel underneath HWY 330 indeed existed and was useable. That opened the floodgates, as it were, to doing the Northwest course, and an extension to Checkpoint Bravo was sketched out by Tuesday, September 4th. By now I had 170+ miles set out to recon. The rest of the course was falling into place as well. By September 10th I had a sketch for the entire course in mind, but tweaks were sure to happen before everything got set in stone. Jeremy rode along with me in early November and we got 170 miles of course recon done in one fell swoop. That was pretty nice. By Thanksgiving it was confirmed that we would get to do the finish line in The Barn west of Grinnell like we had planned for T.I.V6. Then on December 2nd Jeremy again accompanied me and we knocked out the rest of the recon. Now it was on to the cue sheet drafting! Although my plan to go through Marengo didn’t materialize this time, I was pretty stoked about the course. There was going to be a modest amount of B Roads, and none in the road to Checkpoint #1. We had about 320-325 miles reconned. Less climbing than last year too. In fact, after the final recon with Wally and George in mid-April, I found out we were at just over 19.000ft of total climbing. Everything was good to go, and the roads were decent, if not a little spongy from the late Winter, and Spring that was cold, wettish, and cloudy most of the time.

300 MILES DVDCOVER FINAL - Createspacecopy

Final art for the 300 Miles Of Gravel DVD cover

Media: The film, “300 Miles Of Gravel”, was finally trickling out to those T.I.V7 vets and finishers and to those who had signed up to get it post T.I.V8. I got my copy in late August and was getting really stoked by it to get going on T.I.V9. That said, I was definitely not expecting anymore T.I.V7, or V8-like media stuff this time around. Around Labor Day I was made aware of a story written by T.I.V8 finisher Chris Schotz about T.I.V8 in the issue #17 of XXC MAG. Trans Iowa kept generating coverage, and now it was coming out at random times, not just around the time of the next Trans Iowa. It was about Thanksgiving time when Jeff Frings made it known that “300 Miles of Gravel” won a regional Emmy in the Chicago Region for Best Sports Programming- One Time Event. I was blown away! Then, by the end of 2012, Jeff Frings finally made the project available as a DVD. To top it all off,  the film was shown on Iowa Public Television the week before T.I.V9, which really piqued interest in the event for a lot of normally non-Trans Iowa folks. Trans Iowa Radio was linked to Mountain Bike Radio this time, and even riders could call in updates from the course!

Registration: Opening of Registration for Finishers in early November yielded 23 spots taken, then the following week Veterans took only 32 spots. The rest went to the Rookies the week of Thanksgiving. The full 120 spots were filled by Friday with a day to spare. The field was representing 22 states and one foreign country. (UK) Gifts included beer, flowers, and organic shaving cream! The waiting List was canned and oddly enough I had folks wanting to get into T.I. all the way up into February. The roster started its annual shrinkage, and by two weeks before the event, we were down to 95 “official” roster entrants, by a week before it dropped to 92. The event ended up starting 91, which was a new record.

Women's Open prize

Women’s Open prize

Sponsors: I had Oakley come on board again with two watches for the Men’s and Women’s Open Class winners and eyewear for the winner of the SS/Fixed Class. We had a great little contest with Retroshift prior to T.I.V9 and they provided a set to a raffle winner as well. North Central Cyclery and Wheel Werx brought out some fantastic raffle prizes, and HED Wheels gave a set of Ardennes+ wheels out as well. GU Energy provided some nutritional stuff once again, but this time we put it all in the race bags and had nothing at checkpoints, (the way it should be!)

Details: With the course reconned I made a move to slug out the cues in January of 2013 and got them completely drafted and formatted. Jeremy Fry double checked them for me and found a few mistakes. Then On March 17th, a full course recon with Wally and George was scheduled to ride the route one last time to make sure the roads were still there. By January I also learned that Jason Boucher, formerly the Salsa Cycles GM, was able to come to take images for T.I.V9 as well. The full course recon was put off until April 13th, due to inclement weather and snow! The Winter would not quit. Even in mid-April we saw a lot of snow left in the ditches during the first two thirds of the course. Cues didn’t get completely finished until just a few days before the event!

Leading up to the event we had the Barn details all sewn up,   the race numbers were done, and things looked good from a weather standpoint. In fact, the weather looked as good as it could get. Then, just a few days ahead of the event, I found out Salsa Cycles was sending a photographer, which caused a bit of consternation, but it was worked through.

The Event: On the day of the Pre-race, I drove 130 miles of the course’s beginning stretch and found zero issues. The Pre-race went well, with the exception of four guys who decided to show up late. I mentioned that convenience stores were few and far between, but that message was ignored or not heard by some, which the reading of post race chatter seemed to indicate. Anyway, the meeting went smoothly, and we were all out well before 8pm.

The weather was a non-issue, essentially. Besides being a bit cool and foggy in the morning, there was little wind, and bright sunshine. The night was cool, maybe even cold, (low 30’s), and the stars shone brightly. The roads had a lot of fresh gravel, especially in the second half of the event. New records were set for people getting started, (91), going through Checkpoint #1, (81), and for going through Checkpoint #2, (70), but while those numbers were huge, barely over half the remaining riders would finish after CP#2. Even without adverse weather and bad B Roads, Trans Iowa is pretty tough.

More notables: A Rookie won the event for the first time since the first T.I. , (when everyone was a Rookie, obviously!), and that was Rich Wince. We had our first female single speed finisher in Cristina Mihaescu, and our first multiple T.I. Women finisher in Janna Vavre, who was the first women to ever complete a T.I. in T.I.V7. We had our first overseas competitors in Vin Cox and Paul Errington, both from the U.K. Paul finished while Vin made it through CP#2, but bailed out later on due to very chilly conditions and he having little to ward off the cold.


The finish line of T.I.V9 was at the Barn

Conclusions: Trans Iowa V9 was another record setting event. By all accounts the Volunteers and structure of the event was top notch again. Cues were said to be spot on with a minor issue stemming from a formatting oddity that made it look as though there was a cue sheet missing. (Not very many mentioned this.) The Barn was widely acclaimed as a success by my accounting and Rob V and I were pleased, but saw where the Barn might even be more utilized and integrated into the experience in the future.

Trans Iowa V9 was another step up, but I saw some finer details that needed attending to. Most have to do with clerical/record keeping and other small matters. In its basic form, Trans Iowa has pretty much been tweaked out to perfection. The way the route is formatted, the cues checked, and with the last minute recon of the beginning sections, many of the bigger snafus of the past have been put to rest. In this edition I tried a new way to track riders which worked better, and I increased the amount of CP#1 volunteers. Both were seen as successes. More tweaking will happen in the future.

Obviously, we’ll probably never see another Trans Iowa run in such fine weather. Had the weather been more typically “Trans Iowa-like”, the event would have been harder, there would have been more attrition, and less finishers, if any. Hey! It was an “odd numbered year” after all, right? Other small concerns that may require attention are understanding the importance of riding in small groups, not approaching farmhouses with mean dogs, and being ready for cold night time temperatures. Riders didn’t follow the protocol for displaying numbers completely either, which needs to be enforced. Having the riders be able to post to the feed for Trans Iowa Radio was well received, but I can already see some downsides to that which may be addressed if ever I allow that again.

Some Trans Iowa V9 images here. 

A G-Ted Productions blog post that contains links to race reports here.


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