Monday, April 26, 2010

Trans Iowa V6 recap

Jeff Bonsall and Joe Fox outside of The Carriage House Bed & Breakfast

The Lincoln crew (sure was weird without Skip) took off around 11 AM on Friday and headed for Omaha to pick up the mustached Eric. After picking up Eric we were on our way to Grinnell, Iowa. I've never been there before, but had heard of it several times from a former co-worker who went to school at Grinnell College. After spending a couple of days in Grinnell I've come to the conclusion that it's a cozy little Midwestern town with plenty of friendly folks. I'd like to go back again someday to ride the rolling gravel surrounding the town and hit up some of the local eateries.

Butch (support crew along with Nathan) hooked up the Lincoln crew with a Bed & Breakfast two blocks from the start of the race. The B & B was beautiful inside and out. Plus our hostess was top notch. We didn't have much time to settle in at the B & B prior to the pre-race meeting.

Guitar Ted and Kevin checking folks in at the Pre-race Meat up

The pre-race "Meat up" was at the Grinnell Steakhouse just off the main drag going into Grinnell. The food was great and the company even better. Got to see several folks that I hadn't seen since last year. Always fun.

Cookin' on the big grill at the Grinnell Steakhouse

I've never been to a restaurant where you get to cook your meal. Definitely a unique experience. I managed to burn a couple of slices of Texas toast. Went with the veggie kabobs. Yum.

The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce hooked up each rider with 20 bucks to spend in Grinnell!

I took that 20 bucks and used it for the pre-race meal. Thanks again to the City of Grinnell and the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce. Charles also hooked up the Lincoln crew with a checkpoint crib sheet. Thanks Charles!

Guitar Ted giving us the scoop

The pre-race anxiety was palpable as we were each called up individually to pick up our cue sheets and race packets. Guitar Ted gave an encouraging gravel road condition report and also a weather update during the meeting. The word was that the roads were dry as a bone in recent weeks and could handle the rain that came down in the past 24 hours. Plus the forecast for Saturday was for cloudy skies. So we all left the pre-race meeting thinking that all should be good to go in the morning. I was optimistic.

Cue sheet number 1

The cue cards were great again this year. Perfect fit in the Banjo Brothers cue card holder. Unfortunately, the wet weather took a toll on the cue cards and turned them into a mushy mess. Ziplock baggies were probably the best option for keeping the cue cards dry. Lots of homemade cue card systems were utilized.

Race number and info

Breakfast with elevator music ambiance

Most of us were in bed by 10 PM. It was a short, but surprisingly restful night of sleep. This is my fourth Trans Iowa, so I really didn't have much trouble falling asleep. Up at 2:15 AM and headed downstairs to the dining room for breakfast. Dorothy hooked us up! Fresh fruit, muffins, egg casserole and plenty of juice and coffee. It was the perfect pre-race meal. I loaded up on calories since it would be the last sit down meal I'd have for quite a while.

Start of the event in downtown Grinnell

Racers gathered at the start and signed off on a waiver. Shortly after 4 AM Guitar Ted and Dave Pals hopped in the Element, tooted the horn and we were off. A light mist began as we rolled out of town in the darkness.

Precipitation picking up

The pace was about what I expected on the pavement out of town. Nothing too crazy, but fast enough considering the size of the group we were rolling in. The mist began to pick up as we rolled towards the first gravel of the day. As soon as we hit the first bit of gravel, I knew it was gonna be an epic day on the bike. The first gravel section was completely saturated and the consistency of pudding. Mud began to spray everywhere and folks quickly settled into their sketchy riding condition comfort zone. The good lines on the road were tough to pick out in the darkness and I came close to going down several times in that first set of gravel rollers.

Yep, pushin' at 2 miles per hour on a B road

Within the first few miles of gravel my chain sucked into the frame on a climb. Had to jump off and take care of that. The lead group got away at that point. I had to chase them down and really go beyond my sketchy riding conditions comfort zone in order to latch back on. Also lost a bottle on that stretch. Bummer.

First B road of the day

When we hit the first B road of the day we immediately got off the bikes and began to push. The thunder and lightning was pretty intense around that time. It was actually pretty damn cool, but probably pretty damn dangerous too. I wasn't too concerned because I know the chance of getting hit by lightning is fairly small. But hey, if you're gonna go, why not go out doing something you love?

Charging on in the rain

After the B road the lead group tried to make up some time, but weren't exactly meltin' butter due to the conditions of the road. The lead group consisted of the usual suspects including: Joe Meiser, John Gorilla, Tim Ek, Charlie Farrow, Charly Tri, Matt Braun (single speeder!), Troy Krause, Sean Mailen, Jason Buffington, and myself. Am I missing anyone?

Refuel at Monroe with Matt Braun and Troy Krause

The group reached the first checkpoint in Monroe with about an hour to spare. Since I lost a bottle earlier and had already emptied my other two bottles I opted to hit the Casey's in Monroe and let the lead group go. Troy and Matt joined me for a refuel. It was a prudent strategy because the next refuel spot was several hours away.

My drive train wasn't working well after that first B road. I stopped several times during the day to try to tweak it to no avail. It was a frustrating battle with my drive train all day, but I'm sure many others were in the same boat. I'm surprised I didn't snap my chain.

Hike a bikin' on a B road

Matt, Troy and I headed out of Monroe together and were making relatively good time. Eventually Matt had to stop and switch out a belt on his SS belt drive system. He told Troy and I to continue on which we reluctantly did. I prefer strength in numbers, but Matt's belt swap was gonna take quite a bit of time. We figured we see him later anyways since he was riding very strong.

The best line to walk was down the middle

Late morning and early afternoon the sun actually came out for a short time. The roads were still terrible, but if the sun helped to dry up the roads just enough to lift our spirits. There were some big rollers on that stretch.

Steep B road

Convenience store refuel in Pella, IA

Troy and I rolled into the town of Pella and hit up a convenience store for a refuel. A large crew of the initial lead group were already there getting some fluids and forcing down some calories. We visited for a bit and shared some stories of the day thus far. We wished them luck as they rolled out. Troy and I weren't ready yet and finished off our Fritos prior to departing.

As we rolled out of town we spotted Dennis at another convenience store. We rolled over to him and waited for him to finish his food. We were excited to have another person with us, and were especially excited because it was Dennis. I love riding with that guy.

Clouds came rollin' in the late afternoon

The sun disappeared sometime after Pella. That wasn't a big deal, but I spotted some rain clouds off in the distance. Oh no, not again.

More B road action

Troy, Dennis and I spent several hours riding together. Dennis and I took turns navigating. At one time I dreaded navigating with cue sheets, now I actually enjoy it.

Double track B road action

If only we had dry conditions! The B roads and gravel were beautiful. The roads that we hit this year were some of the best I've ever seen in Iowa.

The sign says it all

Flat wet gravel

Prior to the second checkpoint the roads were relatively flat. That was a nice change of pace which allowed us to make up some time. We had plenty of time to make it to the second checkpoint, but were concerned about reaching the third checkpoint within the designated cut off time.

Ridin' the grass

The last 8 or so miles prior to Checkpoint 2 were some of the toughest roads of the day. Very soft and terribly slow. Barely turning your smallest gear slow. The rain also began again about the time we hit the really crappy roads. Since we were already wet it really didn't seem to matter at that point.

Jay and Tracey Petervary rollin' into Checkpoint 2

Troy and I rolled into the second checkpoint with about an hour to spare. All of the leaders were there. No one had left the second checkpoint as of yet. The rain was keeping everyone in a holding pattern.

Seeking shelter from the downpour

Several folks began to calculate the odds of anyone successfully making the third checkpoint by the cutoff time. The rain really began to pick up at that point. When I rolled into the checkpoint I was all fired up to continue on, but after hearing other folks talk about pulling the plug I began to consider it. Eventually I decided to ride back to Grinnell with a small crew. Then Matt Braun rolled in solo. He said he was continuing on, no doubt about it. Then Eric and Charles rolled into CP #2 with a couple of minutes to spare and said they were continuing on. Jay and Tracey Petervary were also gonna give it a try on the tandem.

Well, I couldn't let those folks go it alone. So I decided to continue on and roll out with them. The chances of us making it to the next checkpoint were slim, but I felt we should at least give it a go. It reminded me of a line in the movie Gran Torino when Walt was talking about his experience in Korea, "We all knew the danger that night but we went anyway."

John Gorilla and Joe Meiser had decided to give it a shot too and took off a bit earlier.

Fools rush in - Eric, Charles,and Matt getting ready to depart from CP #2

Matt and I broke away from Eric and Charles after passing Jay and Tracey. Eventually we couldn't see anyone behind us in the distance, so Matt and I continued on. The roads were surprisingly not all that bad. They were soft, but not muddy.

A couple of B roads were walked prior to the sun going down. The rain and wind picked up mightily after the sun went down which soaked us to the bone. Unfortunately, we were heading right into the wind which really dropped the core temperature. As Matt and I rolled into North English, he requested to stop and warm up at the convenience store. I knew if we stopped we were done, but I agreed. About that time I heard someone yell our direction. I looked over to see Guitar Ted waving at us. We rolled over and he said it was done. He and Dave decided to end the race in North English. Whew! It was over.

Eric, Charles and Jay and Tracey rolled in shortly after us. John and Joe were already there hosing off their bikes at a local Malt Shop. The owner stayed open late for us which allowed us to get out of the rain to warm up and get some hot food and coffee.

EV Malt Shop in North English - GT, Joe, Tracey and Charles

I was happy to be done in North English, but was also a bit disappointed not to make it further. Guitar Ted and David made the right call. Make no mistake about it, but I really wanted to see if I could ride through the night. I've never done it before. That was one of my goals for this year. Make it through the night. I guess it'll have to wait until next year.

First true meal in 18 hours

Thanks to Butch and Nathan for being our support this year. You guys did a great job and took care of everything! Also thanks to Guitar Ted, David Pals and all the rest of the race organizers and volunteers. You folks make this event great and I'm excited for next year. Also thanks to all the other racers. It was great riding with ya. Also thanks to everyone who either directly or indirectly gave support via gear, encouragement, text messages, and good vibes.

Alright, now that I got this post complete I can get to tearing my bike apart. It needs some lovin'.


paxtoncoyote said...

Great job Cornbread! Looks like conditions were less than favorable, what a GREAT race regardless for many armchair TI fans like myself!

Taugimba said...

Nice job and good pics! I still have TIv2 flash backs.

Neve_r_est said...

Big thanks to you and Troy for dragging me those 40 or so miles. I didn't figure I'd be strong enough to hang on, but it was good while it lasted. Good on ya for going on. Even the road ride back proved to be more than I could handle.


sbig said...

Wow CB, amazing pics. Great job! Can't wait to hear about it.

jamesb said...

Wow. That was epic. I am sill riveted! Hope to see you around on some gravel soon.

I like how you mounted the Banjo Bro's cue card. Been playing around with where to put it myself.

Ari said...

Good to see you again and hope that next year we will be able to ride the whole thing. Have fun rebuilding your bike. Mine is a complete disaster.

Skip said...

As usual, badass.

EXPO Racing said...

Raw! I will be working my ass off for the next 355 days. I want to pull you into the night next year!

Awsome write-up and amazing pics.

It was great to see you and a few of the Crew. Keep it real.

elisabeth said...

Well done, sir!

Anonymous said...

Great write up. Great pics. Great race. Good to ride with you for a few of them miles.

Especially great job riding on past CP#2, gutsy!


RD said...

Nice Job Corey. you reads are always great

Carp said...

I can say with 100% confidence I will never do that race. I can't imagine walking muddy roads carrying my bike for miles. You rule big K!

Cornbread said...

Thanks for the kind words folks. I hope it inspires some of you to ride your bike. Especially Carp. Come on dude, you know you wanna do TI!

d.p. said...

Good stuff!

Guitar Ted said...

Corey, it is always a pleasure to have you around, and Trans Iowa is a better event because of you. Thanks!!

I feel bad about truncating the ride, but that damn weather! You hit the big reason we were concerned and that was exposure. Several of you guys had the shakes that night. Not cool.

I've got this post linked to the T.I.V6 site, by the way.

I'll see ya sometime this summer, but until then, take care and thanks for coming to T.I.V6!!