Thanks to all my readers that have asked me to do a post. I met you at Trans Iowa this year and I must apologize for being absent. I have been extremely busy running a bike shop which is way understaffed. As you can imagine I attempted Trans Iowa again this year marking the 8th time Dr.Giggles and I make the trek over to the awesome, Godly state of beautiful Iowa. Yes, I love Iowa.
We began the process after we had come back from TIv10. You see Dr. Giggles and Special K live in Upstate N.Y. and I live in the Chicago Area. We communicated all year long via email and phone. We motivated and followed each other and encouraged each other on the moments that were low.
All 3 of us gained entry to the TIV11 via the required postcards. Training started in earnst for me on Dec 1st. I rode all 31 days in Dec, all 31 in Jan, all 28 days in Feb, all 31 days in March. I spent countless hours on my Trek Singlespeed running a 34x18 gearing. I lost 25 lbs of weight and I obsessed over my race bike.
I had also been in communication with Gerald and Ralph from Germany. They were to travel all the way from Germany and land in Chicago. The wife and I hosted them in our home before they were to go visit family in Spragueville, Iowa.
Dr. Giggles finally arrived and we had time to chat and catch up. Trans Iowa is an event that creates lifelong friends and is one of the reasons I believe it is a race like no other.
We loaded the volvo wagon with all our gear and headed to Gravel epicenter known as Grinnell, Iowa. Dr. Giggles can drive ther with his eyes closed. All he needs is Grateful Dead playing on the radio to guide him. I typically ramble on like a fool while he laughs his head off. The 4 hour drive unfortunately turns to a 4 minute drive.
We arrived super-super early to Grinnell and unpacked everything in a jiffy.
Special K had flown in from Syracuse to Des Moines and had rented a car. He was already at the hotel and met us. He went downtown for lunch and noticed the sprinkles on the windshield of the car. We had been checking the forecast for the past month and knew we were in for some rain.
We just did not know the "rain" would turn into a terminator of a storm. Friday soaked the roads pretty good and Sat, as we all know, turned to roads to unrideable, even for a fat bike.
We were so happy to meat every one at the Grinnell Steakhouse. We hugged and gave meaningful handshakes. New riders, Veterans and us dinosaurs were once again congregated in this small rural town of Iowa. The place as abuzz with talk and laughters. Nobody gave a damn about the forecast. We were at TransIowa and that's all that mattered!
We made some final adjustments and purchases at the friendliest Walmart and went back to the hotel to finalize bikes and clothing. we hit the sack at a decent time and actually got some sleep. I supposedly did not snore for the first time in 8 attempts!
We checked the forecast as soon a we woke up and knew we were in for some wetness. We had rain jackets, fenders, booties, helmet covers and what not. AT the start of tiv11 it wasn't raining but we all knew "Termiator" was coming. That did not keep everyone from being scared of wanting to quit. Transiowa people are a hardy bunch. I knew my fellow riders had been training in bad weather all winter long.
After about an hour or less the water started, the winds picked up and the early morning light show of lightning commenced. The roads were superslow and I felt I was riding a timetrial bike with 18mm tires cutting into the quicksand gravel. After a while I knew it was over and at that speed it would be impossible to even get to CP1 never mind going further than that.
I took route 6 back to town while the rain pummeled me and I had salty tears run down my face. Some techno music blasted my ears and my brain was all over the place. Such is TransIowa. A wildcard, a beast or a beauty, a focal point in the dark days of winter when everyone is comfy in there warm homes. The lonely rider piling miles to stay fit in the cold of winter. This all came to a halt with 2 days of soaking, cold water.
I piled more jackets and rainpants that were hidden the Viscacha. I stopped downtown Grinnell to grasp my wits as I was freaking out with thoughts. I composed myself, and made the final miles back to the hotel. It felt weird to be in a warm, lit place. There was no danger in there, no harm, no pain.
I arrived in our room and found Dr. Giggles. He had dropped out and gotten a ride back. I showered and went to bed. I needed to get my temperature up again.
One super-human as in Greg Gleason had made it to CP1. He became the winner of the race and we all applauded him that night at Lonnski's, Trans Iowa's official Bar.
We had lunch and then met everyone there and had a great, great evening. We solidified our friendships even more, to last a lifetime. We drank, ate and drank some more and realized how lucky we were to be together. This for sure was the most important part of my weekend. We finally called it a night and went to sleep. We arranged for a ride with Dr. Giggles, Special K, Gerald and Ralph at 10 am Sunday. That morning was brilliant Sunshine and warm. Nobody could have believed us that Sat could have been so bad. The only memory of it were the tire scars left on the gravel. Deep scars of wiggly lines cutting thru a road unrideable. We rode for a couple hours and then planned our return home.
Trans Iowa V11 has left me amazed. The people that attend have left me amazed. My crew is amazing. The people in Grinnell are amazing and very welcoming. Will I go again? 100% for sure. Thanks to everyone. Thank you Mark for giving us this gift. Thanks for allowing us to have lifelong friends and for connecting us. Thank you Iowa for providing the toughest, most beautiful riding in the world. Thank you Grinnell for hosting us and taking care of us. Thank you Grinell Steakhouse for feeding a bunch of starved riders.
I will never forget this weekend and I am already missing everyone.
I hope to see you all next year!