Headquarters for the Slender Fungus Cycling Association

Headquarters for the Slender Fungus Cycling Association
Brewers of Hardy Rides.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Trans-Iowa Version #6 April 24th, 2010

The La Cruz and I

Tim Krueger, Gus Peters and Pizza Dan getting up a steep hill

My very valuable training partner Hellmut

The energy sapping B road

Trans Iowa Start

I have waited to post this report for a while since I had to get my thoughts straight and my body back in order. All I can say is that Trans Iowa is over. Hellmut and I, and Gumby, started to train really hard back in the start of November of last year. We religiously rode on Wednesdays, Saturday mornings and commuted to work every day. We rode through snow storms, Ice, Freezing fog, frozen lungs, frozen Toes and frozen bodies. I sometimes lost tears when I got home in the middle of the night as I tried to thaw out in my sleeping back.
We kept at it and never gave up. We knew what was coming and we wanted to keep on top shape. I communicated incessantly with Dr. Giggles all the way out in Syracuse, N.Y. We encouraged each other. We rode through the night, leaving my house at 10 or 12 midnight not to show up until the sun came out. We spent countless hours talking and refining our equipment. In the end the Trans Iowa kicked our asses in less than 44 miles.
Here is the story in a somewhat chronological order. Giggles showed up from N.Y. on Wednesday and we started to prepare. By Thursday we had tuned our bikes, packed all our nutrition and were super-relaxed, like never before. We comunicated with Pizza Dan and Hellmut and on the morning of Friday we started our trek to Grinnell, Iowa, starting point of Trans Iowa. The hotel accomodations were awesome. We had ample rooms, a swimming pool and a hot tub. We each had our our bed and there was plenty of room to spare. The staff at the hotel had even provided the racers with a hose outside for washing off bikes. Nice touch.
We headed off to the steakhouse for the "meatup" We grilled our own food, met the other racers and were handed our packets and the first set of cue sheets. 44.5 miles to complete in exactly 4 hours. I had no doubt it would be possible. But mother nature was already giving us a run for our money. On friday it was supposed to rain a 10th of an inch and we ended up getting a lot more than that. The gravel roads saturated and started to losen up. You see the gravel in this area is not the typical Limestone type that hardens to concrete consistency. It is a riverbottom type, pebbly kind that when mixed with water just gets loose.
We ate then took a short drive to check out the roads. They did not look good. Pizza and Hellmut decided to stop by the bike shop in Grinnell to pick up clip on fenders.
We returned to the Hotel and met up with Charlie Farrow, Tim Ek and Jason Buffington. We were concerned about the weather. I did not mind the weather so much but kept thinking about the surface and whether it would slow us down too much to lose too much time.
We all headed to bed and awoke promptly at 2oo am. I showered and lubed up my chamois and presto I was ready to go. Very low stress. We rolled out the Hotel at 3:20 as planned and arrived at the start as planned.
The race started a bit after 4 am since G.T. had forgotten to have us sign the waivers at the restaurant. We rolled in heavy fog and moist conditions. I was confident and could feel all the work from the winter in my legs. The pavement section was a formality as Guitar Ted was leading the race in the Honda Element. When we hit the Gravel it all went to pot. The traction was terrible and the riders ahead were spraying mud in our faces. Things had turned bad. We rode on and just after a mile we started to hear drivetrains giving moans of pain. Chains jumped and derailleurs got sucked into the chainstays. Everyone was trying to find the right line but there was no easy solution. We kept going on and my chain kept locking, jumping and grinding. I was afraid to rip the derailleur off and end the race in sub 10 mile point! I babied it as much as possible and just hoped for daylight so I could remedy the problem.
Pizza Dan stayed with me with Hellmut ahead with the leaders and Dr.Giggles behind us. It was dark, my glasses were useless in the mist and it started to drizzle. My Rapha wool jersey was fending off the mist but then it started to pour. I made a mental check whether the important stuff was in plastic. I started to feel the rain and decided for the rain jacket. We were being chased by scary lightning to our right and then to our left. And in between it would make an arc of light showing us the way to the Garden of Pain.
We started to wonder whether G.T and David Pals would not call the race. I just kept hearing my wife's voice telling me that she allowed me to ride in everthing except lightning. I forged ahead taking solace that other riders were with me. I kept looking at the light poles and wondering how soon it would be before one split in front of my eyes.
These were by FAR the worst conditions I have ever ridden a bike in. They were so bad I started to ask for more. I wanted to see if there was a new limit I could achieve.
The light started to come and the storms went somewhere else. My drivetrain started to function better because I rammed the chain in the big chainring and rode the bigger cogs. There was more tension on the cogs and it kept the chain from jumping. I dared not change anything.
After much delay we made it to the first entrance of the NO maintenance "B" road. It was sticky, peanut butter mud. We made the mistake to try to ride a portion of it only to cake our bikes into 60 lbs anchors. We walked through the slop, rode on the grass, hiked some more and then all of a sudden it happened.I looked at my Tag Heuer and effictively there would be no way that we could ride the remaining 14 miles in less than an Hour. I flushed and a huge knot quickly developed in my throat. I was confused, and kept trying to keep the tempo up. My legs stopped working, My back tightened up,my shoulders hurt terribly. Hellmut, Pizza and I threw the towel in. Trans Iowa had broken us in about 30 miles. 30 miles!
We met up with the other "non makers" and rode out to the first checkpoint at around 8:45 a.m.45 minutes past the allowed time. Meaning we rode 44 miles in 4 hours and 45 minutes. We made it to a Caseys and had food, coffee and then decided to ride back to Grinnell. I rode with Tim Krueger, Product Manager from Salsa, My good friend Travis Braun from Trek, Hellmut, Pizza, Gus Peters, Jason Novak, Kristin and her boyfriend and a host of other riders. We ended the day with 85 miles through the countryside of Iowa.
I am still having issues with all this and there is a lot of thoughts going on in my head. I cannot believe the smackdown I was handed and am wondering how to better prepare for it.
All in all I would like to Thank my wonderful wife and my daughter for all there support. My wife for understanding my through the night rides. I would like to thank Guitar Ted, David Pals, Kevin and all the volunteers for their endless work. I would like to mention a thank you to all the racers and what a bunch of nice people you are. A thank you to the Craig Cooper from Bikes to You in Grinnell for all the work you put into it. Pizza Dan, Hellmut and Dr.Giggles for being such valuable friends and riding partners. My shop for all the support. Salsa Cycles and Gunnar for dang good bikes you make.
there is more. It's still coming out.



There are 129 photos on my flickr thingy to your right. They are in the set for Trans Iowa.



Anonymous said...

Nice read, thanks Ari.

Anonymous said...

Great to meet up with you finally Ari.
Life is a journey, not the destination.
The TI is the last 5 months, not just 4/24.
Great race.

Anonymous said...

Beyond category, this TI. Laughing at the mud. The torrents of rain. The blind descents at +25mph. Counting the seconds between the lightning and thunder. The deep darkness that seemed to swallow our headlights. The hope and promise of an Iowa dawn and early morning blue skies utterly crushed by the first B road. Then, the long quiet ride back to Grinnell lost in thought and exhaustion. Another step along a path that began in Decorah, Williamsburg, and now, Grinnell. An excellent adventure with old and new friends, where we rode off into an unknown land to see what waited for us along the road. Beyond category, the TI. It was an honor and a privilege to ride with you, Pizza, Hellmut, and every one else on that line at 4am.

bluecolnago said...

she's a beast, my friend. i'm sure you'll do it again.... never give up.

great meeting you in grinnell! :)

Guitar Ted said...

Great read Ari, and you write it in such a way that it makes me feel very sad. It is a funny thing, Trans Iowa. I think Tim Ek said it best, "The Trans Iowa would not let us pass."

Well, how can I leave things like this........

See ya at T.I.V7, I hope.

Ari said...

Rich: Thanks for the comments
Giggles: Too bad we are so faraway. It is always a joy to pedal with you.
JB: It was grand to hang out with you guys. Those moments were precious.
Blue Colnago: It was a long time coming!!

Guitar Ted: I just wrote it like it came out. I really love Iowa and it does something to me. Today we had to take a road trip to Bellevue,Iowa to scope out some gravel roads. You bet I will be at that starting line!!


J-No said...


Excellent write up. The day did not go as planned, but I still had fun on the ride back, stopping at the car wash, and meeting up for dinner and beer later. I'll see you next year!!

-Jason Novak

Anonymous said...

Ari: We all lived to fight again!!! I very much enjoyed our time together and the Slender Fungus is a secret organization of the first order!!!
Cheers and keep in touch...Consider the Arrowhead135!!!

Tim Ek said...

You were ready Ari! Remeber, the T.I. decides. That's what makes her so special.


So nice to meet you in person. Thanks for every thing.

Ari said...

You Minnesota Guys have a great Secret Organization as well. It was great to ride with you Jason. Charlie and Tim, I hope to vacation up in Duluth by ends year and see you there.

strangelife said...

Well, what can I say? You know me, I don't do that kind of crazy shit. I leave it to the madmen. I'm sure once you pick the grit between your teeth, massage out the bad juju, and have some time to reflect, I think you'll smile. I imagine TI is a bit more personal, but, fuck, you're in the best shape of your life right now. Bottle that up and uncork it next year. You'll destroy.


EXPO Racing said...


Thank you so so so much for magically appearing near me while on the gravel. you realy were able to keep me press'n on. You are one of the best men one could ever hope to ride with. I truly owe you, Dan and Russ a huge thanks for riding out the tail end of our T.I. adventure.

I hope to see much of you in the future, if not, then at T.I.v7's start!

Thanks for taking so many pics too! Pictures are the only way to truly describe the conditions and your camera really did capture the day.

Greek Power will prevail!


Anonymous said...

How soon till I can read about your next DNF?

Ari said...

Expo Racing:
It was a pleasure to ride with you. I hope we meet up soon before T.I. since we don't live far from each other
It's the old B.S. boys mentality. When it hurts, shift up and hurt more.
Saddle up your pony and meet us at T.I.7 so we can hold hands and DNF together.