Pre-race meeting at the Williamsburg Community Recreation Center. Guitar Ted and David Pals go over the race logistics, thank sponsors and hand out swag bags with cue sheets. About 50 to 60 racers waited their turn to be called up to shake Guitar Ted's hand, get their bag, sign a waiver, and grab a TI V5 T-shirt courtesy of feepish.
2 AM. Wake up and get ready for Iowa gravel. I woke up at 1:30 and couldn't fall back to sleep. Sleep deprivation is a big part of Trans Iowa for the competitors, promoters, volunteers and support crew.
The starting line was in Williamsburg near a cemetery. That was the first of many Iowa cemeteries we passed throughout the day. Unlike previous TI's, the start was flat which allowed the group to stay together.
At 4 AM Guitar Ted honked his horn a few times and led the us out for the first few miles in his car. The temperature was around 40 with no wind. The stars were out. It was a beautiful morning.
The pace was relatively subdued for the first 40 miles. Everyone seemed content to ease into the event. No group attacks.
The sun slowing began to rise in the East. A welcome site.
As daylight broke, you were able to look around and see who was around you. It was great to be able to chat with some folks during the first stretch. The pace was conversational, but brisk.
At 5 AM on a Saturday morning the gravel roads had no traffic so we took the entire road. It was bitchin'. I preferred the middle line for pics.
Aaron Schnee, soon to be Omaha resident and unconfirmed tallest TI participant at 6 foot 5 1/2 inches, giving the peace sign (kinda looks like the bird!). Looking forward to seeing Aaron around the Nebraska cycling scene. Great guy.
First checkpoint (blurry pic) at mile 40 in the small town of Washington, IA. The race promoters, volunteers, and support crew were waiting for us in the town square with cue sheets and encouragement. The next leg was 110 miles.
The Peters brothers front in center (Gus and Aris) in the pic above. As I was waiting for a few folks I spotted Joe Meiser and Charlie Farrow blast out of the first checkpoint which allowed them to get a gap on the rest of the field. Smart tactic for getting a lead.
A group of ten of us rolled out behind Joe and Charlie, but got lost getting out of town (it wasn't my fault this time!). Eventually we found the way out of town and were back on track.
B.J. Bass on the left and Jeremy Fry on the right (both finishers this year!) rollin' with a crew on the second leg of the journey.
Dennis Grelk broke off the front prior to the first checkpoint and then regrouped with our crew. He rode great all day. I ran into Dennis while I was lost. We got back on track together and regrouped with our crew at a truck stop.
Some of the B roads were a bit muddy, but nothing like I expected. The area around Williamsburg got 5 inches of rain the weekend prior to the event.
Charles Parsons (TI V4 finisher) sportin' a wide toothy grin. He's got to be one of the most positive and determined guys around. Positive vibes all the time.
John Gorilla left (TI V4 winner) and Jason Novak right (TI V5 finisher!) refueling at a convenience store.
At some point I began to pick up the pace a bit and broke away from the group (about 10 riders). Several folks jumped on and eventually it whittled down to Tim Ek, Dave Praman and myself. Dave and Tim began to work with me for a bit to get a gap on the rest of the crew. Getting a gap wasn't my intention, but they really seemed determined to catch the leaders so ramped it up for a bit.
I rolled into this convenience store (pic above) with Tim Ek and Dave Pramann in tow and found the leaders Joe Meiser and Charlie Farrow restocking supplies. I commented that I was going to refill my water bottles and walked inside. After I entered the store I looked back and saw those four take off. Damn it! Oh well. I wasn't in it to win it. So I hit the restroom and bought a few things. By then several of the crew (the Braun brothers, B.J. Bass, Charles Parsons, Jason Novak, Eric Brunt, John Gorilla) that we had gapped rolled into the convenience store. Since they had just arrived and I was ready to go I decided to take off by myself and soft pedal for a bit hoping the crew would catch up and join me. Well, I must have been feeling good cuz no one caught me. Then I got lost for a while and did an extra 10 to 12 miles. I stopped and tried to get directions from a couple of farmers. They weren't much help, but were good for a few laughs. This is where Dennis and I linked up and got back on track.
Refueling at the convenience store. It's wise to refuel whenever you have the opportunity cuz you never know when another opportunity will arise.
Ha! Definitely a blog worthy pic. Kinda reminds me of this commercial.
This is the truck stop that Dennis and I linked back up with the crew. They were a welcome site! Our crew was much more relaxed and was content with riding together for as long as we could. Strength in numbers.
Travis and Matt Braun of Madison, Wisconson rode strong all day and eventually went on to finish. Travis was fourth overall and first single speeder. Matt and B.J. Bass were right behind Travis and were second and third single speeders. Great job guys!
Matt Braun hammin' it up for the camera and allowed me to get of pic of him taking a break on the soft dirt of the B road. He was having fun. That's what it's all about.
Travis and I rolled into the second checkpoint in sixth and seventh place. Jason Novak rolled in ahead of us in fifth. I'm not 100% sure the name of the town (LeGrand maybe?). Guitar Ted, David Pals and the rest of the volunteers and support crew were there waiting.
The line at the convenience store was long and the food choices were dismal. Nothing really looked good. Eventually I decided on some microwave mac and cheese, a Big Bopper ice cream sandwich, and a short stack of Pringles. Ugh.
Matt Braun, B.J. Bass, Charles Parsons, and Eric Brunt rolled in while we were refueling and restocking. They all looked worked over. In fact, we all looked worked over. The second leg of TI V5 was brutal. I had my doubts if a couple of them would be able to rally.
Travis and I linked up with Jason Novak on the way out of the second checkpoint on our way for the third leg (66 miles). Shortly after rolling out of town, Jason wished us luck and politely asked us to roll on without him. Our pace was a bit faster than his. It was a smart move that allowed him to finish.
Several more B roads were on the third leg of the event. Lots of ruts to deal with. Travis and I both crashed on the B roads on this section. I tweaked my already tender knee and Travis broke his rear fender.
Travis Braun. This guy is a great rider and I suspect he'll be finishing several more Trans Iowa events. I don't recall seeing him eat a thing all day, but he rode like he was powered on rocket fuel. He just kept turning the pedals over.
About ten miles from Traer, Travis and I came upon Charlie Farrow. I think he was lying down, but jumped up when he saw us approaching. He was really out of it and doubled over in pain from a stomach issue. We had passed some piles of his vomit on a couple of B road sections. We offered to pull him into Traer, but he refused and told us we were riding great and to leave him. I hated doing it, but he said he was going to finish so I figured he could at least make it the next 10 to Traer.
Travis and I took the long way into Traer as darkness fell. Charlie actually rolled in before us in fourth place. So we were in fifth and sixth place at this point. It was around 9:30 and the convenience store closed at 10 PM. We frantically bought supplies and refueled. Charlie took a nap on the concrete sidewalk.
My knee began to hurt badly about the time we ran into Charlie. I knew it wasn't going to get any better and had resolved to pull the plug in Traer. I weighed my options and decided pulling out was the best option for preventing chronic knee problems and ensuring participation in the rest of the events this month. It wasn't an easy decision.
Matt Braun, B.J. Bass, Jason Novak, and Charles Parsons rolled into Traer shortly after Travis and I. This made my decision much easier. I really didn't want to abandon Travis. If they hadn't had rolled into Traer, I would have taken some Tylenol and pushed on hoping for the best.
Oly, Eric, and Skip rolled into Traer in the War Wagon and gave me encouragement to continue on, but I pulled the plug and made it official. Charles Parsons also pulled the plug in Traer after John Gorilla and his support offered him a tasty beverage. We eventually went down to the Pizza Palace and ordered a couple of pizzas and had a bunch of laughs.
It was bitter sweet.
We waited for the rest of the Lincoln crew to come through the final checkpoint. Bonsall rolled in with Matt Wills, Matt Gersib, Ben Shockey and someone else. Jeff had to pull due to IT band issues. Now there were two Nebraskans left.
Skip, Oly, Eric, Jeff and I decided to head back to Williamsburg and get a hotel room to shower and nap for a few hours prior to Matt and Matt's finish. We were confident they would finish.
After our nap and some breakfast we walked over to the finish line and waited with Guitar Ted, David Pals, the volunteers and several other competitors who dropped.
Eventually Charlie Farrow rolled into the finish. I couldn't believe it. He is one tough dude. With all his stomach issues he still was able to finish. Definitely the guttiest performance of TI V5 in my opinion.
Another single speeder finishing TI V5. There were a lot of SS finishers this year. Just goes to prove that consistency is the key.
Wills and Ben Shockey (fixed gear!) finished shortly after Gersib.
This is my favorite pic from the event.
This is my favorite pic from the event.
Paul Jacobson was the last man to cross the finish line. He rolled into Traer (the final checkpoint) with 5 minutes to spare prior to the cutoff time. All convenience stores and sources of sustenance were closed. Miraculously Paul was able to remain upbeat and rallied to push on to the finish. Alone, in the darkness, with little food and water. It was inspiring. It made me feel like throwing my shorts back on and joining him.
Paul with his award for being the last man through the final checkpoint. A Vassago Fisticuff frame set. Enjoy it Paul! You deserve it!
Thanks again to Oly for being our support crew. He was Johnny on the spot the whole weekend.
The Trans Iowa experience is like no other event I've ever done. There are some many factors that go into finishing. Nutrition, weather, navigation, orthopedic limitations, willpower, sleep deprivation and finally luck. Trans Iowa is the Mt. Everest of gravel endurance events. Luckily no one dies trying to get to the finish.
Till next year!