Trans Iowa V11

This is the page that is concerned with everything Trans Iowa V11:

The T.I. is like a well designed curriculum that culminates in a tough, but fair test. The TI is very hard to study for, the actual test is brutal, but the satisfaction of its completion is very rewarding and worthwhile.

Charlie Farrow


Post T.I.V10: This wasn’t supposed to happen- Trans Iowa V11, that is. I was dead set against going past 10 for a long time, but something happened, and that is the biggest change from years previous. I’ll get to that in a minute, but for now, the history past T.I.V10: It was a very well received event and maybe more than ever, due to the largest field to ever take a start, (106), there was a huge outpouring of thanks and a huge groundswell of support for a V11. I think that has to do with the difficulties of V10, which I have repeatedly said was the toughest one to date, and that seems to draw out this sort of response. Much like it did back in V2 and other tough years, Trans Iowa seems to elicit a desire to “try again”. I still cannot really explain that……

I heard from many sponsors that they received e-mailed thank yous from the riders, which is the first I have ever heard of that happening, although I am sure it has in the past to some degree. That said, I was very chuffed to have gotten that feedback. That makes me proud of the sort of folks that do this event and certainly- that played into the decision to do another one.

While there had been strong feelings about possibly stopping Trans Iowa altogether, it became more apparent  that there were strong feelings on not only my part, but on the part of several riders and volunteers for a continuance of the event. Ari Andonopoulous of the Slender Fungus threw in his hat along with the rest of his crew as helpers. I had already gotten four volunteers offer to help before two weeks had gone by past T.I.V10. Wally and George threw in their hats to do it all again. Rob Versteegh was in again with the Barn, and the Grinnell Steakhouse was talking about shutting the restaurant down just for our party next time.

Talk about your “no brainers“!

So, only a few short days beyond Trans Iowa V10 I decided to do another one. I let a few key people know and started looking at routes again. Meanwhile, I tried to recover from a “personal record” of having been awake for 43 hours during the weekend of V10.

The Changes: Again, nothing radical, but I did want to fine tune a few details. Things like number plates, which riders were still not getting right. A mandatory “on the bike” placement was to be implemented. The rerouting procedure would go on each set of cues going forward along with the DNF number to call. This would hopefully promote understanding of re-routes and prevent volunteers from having to man re-route places all night long! The Slender Fungus would be relied upon for more support pre-event and during the event.

Otherwise it was looking like business as usual starting out in 2014 looking at T.I.V11. Grinnell was going to be the starting town. The Barn would be a part of the event. The Grinnell Steakhouse would provide the space for the Pre-Race Meat-Up. Procedural elements for producing another Trans Iowa were pretty much dialed since V8, so nothing unusual there either.

No the Trans-Iowa is not a glitzy affair or a big production and I doubt it will ever be and that is just fine by me. And I suspect you agree with me. The Trans Iowa is about defeating ones demons…Defeating them alone with no fanfare or support! –

Charlie Farrow

The hand drawn T.I.V11 logoTrans Iowa V 11 was announced on August 9th on the Guitar Ted Productions blog once again and received immediate strong positive reaction. Much like it does every year, except that the response is much larger than in years past. Volunteers stepped forward and included a few notable Trans Iowa Finishers like Mike Johnson, Matt Gersib, and Steve Fuller. The lodging deal was set again at the Grinnell Comfort Inn & Suites at $70.00/night. The block of 40 plus rooms sold out within hours of the announcement before anyone had registered!

Recon relief!

Recon relief!

Registration: There was a new tweak to registration this time. Since there are now over 100 finishers of Trans Iowa over ten events, the Finishers sure could take the entire roster if they all decided to come back! So, I reverted to limiting their participation, but to guarantee that former winners would have a guaranteed spot. However; ALL entrants would have to gain entry by post card and by a specific date. When I had allowed winners to just send in an e-mail, and Finishers could do the same, I was getting the feeling that this was on the verge of becoming an abused way to get into a Trans Iowa. In fact, I had to turn down two former winners for T.I.V10 due to this “loop hole” that almost was. Also; I ended the Industry Cup for similar reasons. It was becoming a way to “pay to play”, in a way, which wasn’t fair to those who have/had no industry connections. Back to basics then!

The registration started on October 27th with a one week window for Winners and Finishers to get in. However; prior to this date an individual tried to “bribe” their way in by sending a card to my employer and telling him to give me the post card on the 27th and there was an amount of money included in the letter. Besides that disqualified entry, two folks miscalculated their overnight letters which arrived on the Saturday before the registration opened, so they missed the cut.

Early cards and disgruntled individuals were noted in larger numbers this time, especially in regard to the Rookie registration, which saw the roster filled for them in 30 minutes! People waiting in line to drop off registration cards were in higher numbers than ever before and many people missed the cut due to that and mishandled overnight letters. If there is a T.I.V12, there will be no overnight, or hand delivered cards allowed again. All will have to run the same gauntlet of the USPS to gain a chance to enter the event.

You can find the weirdest things on recon!

You can find the weirdest things on recon!

Recon: Jeremy Fry was again my companion for recon, which we started in early October. The route, which was planned to go Southeast of Grinnell, was fraught with reroutes, dead ends, and unsatisfactory terrain. While we covered everything drafted but the last 80 miles, it was clear that a revising of things was in order. This was especially so due to the lack of a convenience store opportunity past Checkpoint #2’s planned distance.

A second recon happened November 1st and we settled the route out for the most part. We were over 340 miles so by November 14th I had a few things cut out and we found a couple errors in tracking that brought the route down to a more manageable total of 331.77 miles. The route was unique in that it stretched Southeast to Northwest and in many places the route passed within one mile of itself. The final recon with Wally and George in mid-April was cut short due to time and 76 miles were left without a final check. Wally and George were determined to check that section out just prior to the event, but cue sheets were printed anyway ahead of that.

Sponsors: After T.I.v10’s enormous prize table and t-shirt offering to the riders, I decided to dial back the hoopla a bit and we had the most minimally sponsored T.I. yet. Pedal of Littleton sent over some Salsa Cycles bar tape, and WTB was to provide every official finisher of Trans Iowa a set of WTB Nano 40 TCS tires. I also got some backing to do a limited run t-shirt for the volunteers from Tacopocalypse. That was pretty much it aside from a donation from Lederman Bonding Company to help out with expenses.

The event was backed by the Grinnell Steakhouse with the provision of the meeting room. Rob Versteegh also was going to help us out again by opening up the barn again for the finish line.

Wally Kilburg took some amazing images once again.

Wally Kilburg took some amazing images once again.

Media: Wally Kilburg and George Keslin were back again to do the image taking. In a big surprise for me, Jason Boucher also showed up and took some great shots. Also, many riders were taking shots during Trans Iowa v11 as well. More so than in any other year. In a last minute call just before T.I.v11, I was contacted by an individual doing a film project on gravel about doing an interview after the event, but it never went down due to the way things went with the weather. This same individual then sprang the idea of tagging along in somebodies car to film the event, but I put the brakes on that since I had no time to clear it with the riders or logistically.

Pre-event: The roster stayed solid at 120 folks with three volunteer exemption additions until about April 1st when I got my first dropout notification. Then it went on with about a drop every other day till we were down to 93 riders with two Volunteer Exemption riders by ride time. Interestingly, there were only about 30 rookies in the field.

The process to put the event together was a bit different since the Slender Fungus did the numbers and I had others helping in other ways that used to be things I had to take care of personally. The whole deal did go smoothly though, and when it came time for the event it was all good.

The weather had been relatively dry right up to the Trans Iowa weekend, but, of course, the day of Trans Iowa was forecast to be rainy, windy, (from the EAST!), and rather cold. Things were shaping up to be a real humdinger and Trans Iowa v11, even though it was an “odd year”, wasn’t going to have the best of weather. Volunteers were mostly past Trans Iowa veterans or folks that understood ultra-endurance events, so the crew was top notch and it helped to make the event go smoothly.

Bad weather truncated T.I.v11 and made it the shortest T.I. ever.

Bad weather truncated T.I.v11 and made it the shortest T.I. ever.

The Event: The event was marked by bad weather. It not only rained beforehand, but the wind and rain during the event was brutal. Rain was nearly sideways, the roads were mushy and slow, all resulting with all but one person not making checkpoint 1. Only Greg Gleason made it through, and then only by 5 minutes. Greg was T.I.v10’s winner and was looking to punch his ticket to back to back winning finishes, but it wasn’t to be so.

The special volunteers shirt

The special volunteers shirt

So, with Gleason making only 123 miles by 4:20pm, he threw in the towel, seeing he wouldn’t make further time cuts, and the event was over. Gleason was declared the “winner”, but there were no official finishers. The majority of folks in it were already cleaned up and at the bars, or on their way home by the time Gleason stopped his ride. Although T.I.v11 was a short one, it engendered the sort of response that comes with complete Trans Iowas and maybe even more so.

This Trans Iowa was also marked by a large number of stories of riders helping riders and many acts of kindness and conduct deserving of commendation were observed. Too many to mention here.

Even when no one finishes, everyone that rode won: Guitar Ted.

Post Event: The following appeared on the site after T.I.V11:

Trans Iowa: The eleventh running of Trans Iowa was marked by difficult conditions that decimated the field of 94 riders. The time cut off for the first checkpoint was not met by all but one rider, Greg Gleason, and then by only five minutes. He eventually pulled the plug after 123 miles which he covered in 12 hours and 20 minutes- too slow to make further time cuts.

What often seems ridiculous, without purpose, and demoralizing is anything but that to those who were actually there toeing the line. In fact, although it may seem very unbelievable to outsiders, this result actually is a motivator to make it back next year. Training plans and rides to keep up the fitness are already being planned by many who had their dreams of a Trans Iowa finish dashed this year by the insane winds, rain, mushy roads, mud, and cold.

Until the next Trans Iowa is announced……….

The event was the shortest of the Trans Iowas so far, but much like V2, it engendered a response of gratitude for the chance and a desire to come back again. (NOTE: V2 was shorter in distance, actually, but that was a point to point format.V2 was also longer in terms of time. V11 is the shortest in distance and ended earlier than any of the planned loop format courses so far. ) No bad words were heard about the event by the participants and most seemed to be pretty pleased with the set up and the way things were handled.

Conclusions: Now that Trans Iowa is a “known entity”, it seems that outsiders that have little knowledge and no experience in gravel events see something like V11 and Trans Iowa in general as weird, unfathomable, or a joke. The folks that do “get it” were just fine with how it was run and, while disappointed in their outcomes in the event, were all appreciative and supportive. Trans Iowa will continue to cater to those who desire to be challenged in a unique way, and will never have licenses, “winner’s jerseys”, points, or be “sanctioned”. Some may not see it as a race, or see its rules as being fair, but they are what they are and this is what makes the Trans Iowa race unique and appealing to those who are not all about trappings and hoopla.


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