It has taken me a longer than usual time to be able to focus enough and jot down some lines in regards to the Transiowa race that Giggles and I Just attended. The move to New York last year in November meant leaving all the beautiful gravel roads of the midwest and exchanging them for the amazing countryside of Central New York. Despite all the warnings of the massive lake effect snowstorms none of them actually materialized. We found ourselves riding outside all winter. Giggles was not once on his indoor trainer and I commuted every day on my bike to work. My Pugsley sat lonely and dusty in the garage while I rode my cross bike and the steamroller.
The incessant hills and rolling terrain were a perfect background for me to lose weight and re-learn my body how to climb. I lost the weight, stayed healthy and was preparing in earnst since the start of november. Around March the shop started to get busy and some of my riding slimmed. But I ended up loading up the bike and gear as we prepared for the long trip to the great state of Iowa. I was excited to meet G.T, the volunteers, my co-racers, whom are great friends, my dear friends Cookie, Gumby and the ever energetic T.J.
We finally met up and found ourselves in the Grinnell Steakhouse.
It was awesome to see everyone and to once again meet with our good friends from the DBD Charlie Farrrow and Jeremy Kershaw. As usual the weather had driven me mad up to this point. I had spent endless hours prepping 3 bikes from which I would pick one at last minute. These included the Chili con Crosso, The reliable BMC and my Selma singlespeed in case of disaster weather. The wind blowing at 30mph was the deciding factor in choosing eh BMC with its Triple in the front. I basically took all my clothes and decided the night before what to wear. I am experienced and there was no second guessing. We ran to Walmart for some small supplies, readied bikes and we were in bed. I was nervous but slept ok. I jumped out of bed at 2am something and started to get ready.
It had stormed like crazy while we were laying in bed and I awoke to a wicked wind and saturated gravel. We met all the other racers at the beginning and everyone was in winter gear and rain jackets. It was cold,windy and very wet. The Wednesday before TransIowa I had contracted what seemed like a cold. I had that stupid fuzzy feeling in my body but ignored it. To this point I don't know if I had allergies, a cold or some type of flu.
I completely ignored it since I had prepared for this event for so long.
We started and inmediately I saw the front end tear away. I struggled to warm up. My legs were heavy and I was trying to find a rhythm. I lost contact with Jay eventually as I did not expect him to jeopardize any chance of getting through this time. I also lost contact with Giggles and eventually lost contact with all the groups that I was trying to stick with. The winds completely destroyed me. I could not believe the terrain was so brutal, so strong, so unrelenting. I loved Iowa at that point and understood the power of its fields, the muscle destroying rollers. The gravel sucked my tires in as I wished for my Pugsley. I was in my glory of riding the beautiful gravel while getting my face blasted with the cold wind.
I noticed the sweat dripping from my sleeeves as I exerted every ounce of strength to make it to check point 1.
I arrived at 920 am with 10 minutes to spare. I was probably one of the last guys to make it in. MG and other volunteers helped in getting me back in order. I cleaned my bike, lubed the chain and went to replenish my liquids at the gas station. Once back on the road I felt completely isolated and saw no small figures in the distance. I looked back and there was nobody there. I rode and rode and made little progress. My back was tight, my arms cramped, my legs demolished. Nobody in front to take a pull. So at one moment I just decided it was pointless.There was no way I was going to continue like that for another 12 hours. I stopped pedaling and sat down to think whether I would regret my decision. I sat there and knew my race was over. I was o.k. with that and knew it was impossible to conquer the wind and hills alone.
I walked and pedaled to Sigourney, Iowa to call my ride in. I was done. I learned even more this year as I destroyed myself in 85 miles. I learned the importance of having a partner. I learned that I have to drop another 40 lbs. I learned that I love the State of Iowa and that I have become family with people at T.I.
The pain in my back and legs lasted for days and those days I enjoyed reliving those moments. I thank G.T. for putting on this event. I thank Steve Fuller for the photos, the people at the Grinnell Steakhouse, Our ever accomodating hotel people for extending our stay, The awesome volunteers, the racers. I am grateful for the deep friendships that this event has given me.
So at this point the race is over and there is a kinda void left in there somewhere. I will be back on the bike, stay healthy and keep pedaling. It is my desire to finish this race. I now believe I have all the tools I need and it is up to me use them in getting ready. A deep congratulation to Jay Barre for finishing Trans Iowa. Thank you Giggles for being always there. It was great travelling with you. Thank you Gumby and T.J. for being the best support anyone could hope for. Everyone loved you guys and you made the Slender Fungus proud. The biggest thank you goes to my dear wife who puts up with my endless riding and talking about bikes.
President Slender Fungus Cycling Association.
I will post photos soon.