So after my 2006 attempted at Trans Iowa, I was not deterred from giving it another go at version 3. This was less trans and more loop. One big friggin’ loop to be exact. The start/finish for TIv3 was in the hamlet of Decorah. It took Fixie Dave and myself a couple of days to drive to Decorah with a layover in Marshalltown. It turned out to be one of the most memorable rides that I have done. Maybe someday I will head back to Iowa to give Trans Iowa another go, but for now I’ll just live vicariously through others (and/or just do RAGBRAI).
Again, best of luck to all those riding out of Grinnell for v8!
My write-up from TIv3 can be found below.
First I need to thank Mark, Jeff, the volunteers and their family members that made this possible.
The first leg of the journey was the long drive which gave me the opportunity to spend many hours in the van with Mr. Nice. 11 hours to M’town with another 3 hours scouting the roads south of the ‘Loo up towards Decorah. It was blind luck that I picked some gravel to drive on that was on the TI route into Independence. We met up with my Brother Matt and Chris Friday afternoon before pizza and the meeting.
I woke early Saturday morning is a cold sweat and a throbbing head (which I had lingering for over a week). Needless to say I was worried with the outcome. The crew (Pivvay, Snot, Bro, and I) from room 106 stumbled around pulling the last minute items together and trying to cram some food down our throats. We rolled to the start at 3:30 am giving us plenty of time.
After the start I quickly found myself blanketed in darkness, the light was my only guide and the tell-tale signs of flashing red ahead. I wasn’t feeling so hot but kept telling myself to keep the pedals turning over and keep eating/drinking. The sun came up but the spirits were not improving. Rode with some of the Folks from Lincoln (Jeff, Butch, & ?) which help the mental side of things. I was seriously thinking this was not my day. Another rider rolled up and we seemed to just roll along with our own thoughts. The FfL took a break and I rolled on ahead thinking they would soon be catching me. I meet up with Mike Meister at my first break in Postville, we ended up riding the rest of the way to Decorah together.
This next section was the absolute worse for me, I wanted to stop and cry in the ditch more than once. My head was aching, my mind was far from focused and my body didn’t feel like pedaling. I kept telling myself to push on but the head winds sucked all life out of me. We hit Stanley only to find out that no services were there, another moral blow. (My Brother did stop in Stanley at the closed looking old service station which was a completely stocked convenient store.) I had barely enough liquid to get to Independence, I pushed on. I ran out of water a mile or so out of town and thought this is the end or my race. Limped into Independence and pulled right in a store and slammed a Gatorade and bought 2 gallons of water (under the premise that a gallon contained 64 ounces – I was wrong). I ate tons of food before heading to the Fairway for Mike to pick up some Ensure. At this point we had been joined by Steve McQuire.
I was in no mood to continue on to Brandon, but the two others were heading out and I decided I could make it to the checkpoint. I would make a decision there. Remarkably that section to Brandon had a slight tail wind and my energy levels were rising. I drank and ate lots during this stretch since I was starting to feel better. I guess a century in the legs will clear the mind.
We hit Brandon at 3:15 pm and saw Corey Heintz relaxing in the grass. I did a quick refill of the bottles at the store before heading on down the path to La Porte City. The energy was quickly coming back and mentally I was as sharp I could be. We hit La Porte City and were joined by Corey. Another quick stop was made before heading out to the first B-road section. At this point I was feeling slow and methodical in my riding but I had no doubt that the finish was obtainable. Corey and Steve rode a bit faster pace than Mike and I. The four of us road into Traer where we ran into a group of riders, I can’t remember who they were. With some more food in us we headed out in search of Dike, a nice long section of B-road the group split up leaving Mike and I plodding along. Steve waited up as darkness was about to fall. The winds seemed to have faded and shifted pushing us north to Dike. A 14 mile stretch found Snob, B.J. aka Travis, and Corey catching us. At this point in the evening the body felt good but my concentration on riding overrode any attempt at verbal communications. Another fuel up in Dike with Red Bull and bananas, Snob was there with the Folks from Lincoln taking pictures. We headed out first only to take a wrong turn on – we should have gone right but instead took a left, oh well. A short detour back to the route found Snob and crew at the corner we missed. Soon after we ran into Fixie Ken, Cale, and others and they were moving right along. The only thing that seemed to slow that group up was wrong turns and water. We caught back up with them at the first low water crossing, we stripped our shoes and waded across. The water was cold and gave a good jolt of adrenaline to the system. Off to Janesville for the last late night stop.
By the time we got to Janesville, my body was on autopilot, I felt okay on the bike but once off I was a wobbly mess. Most of the usual suspects were in Janesville at this point. A Red Bull and brownie (ahh sugar!) then attempt to get warmed back up and the temps seemed to be hitting the low for the day. I donned my wool shirt and leg warmers before heading back out. A slight type/error on the cue sheets brought us to a grinding halt, Steve called Mark to clarify the correct turn. Fixie Ken and crew were blasting from the dark looking for the correct turn as Snob rolled up. We got the right directions and that was the last I saw of the others until Decorah. Steve, Mike, and I worked our way through dawn calculating the possibility of finishing this thing under the time limit. We arrived at the second water crossing and I just plow right on through soaking my feet and leg warmers. My feet were wet but the sun was coming out and all was going to be okay, I did pop a No-Doze sometime around sunrise as the eyes were beginning to get heavy. We rode to Hawkeye for the last stop before Decorah.
In Hawkeye I dumped everything from crumpled up cue sheets to the homemade energy bars I started with. I reloaded with oatmeal crème pies and Gatorade, it was good to have a change in the diet. The three of us didn’t waste much time getting back on the bikes as we realized that we were going to finish. The last bit of riding for me was tough because my mind wanted Decorah to be around the next corner and the knees were screaming for mercy. The sun beating down felt good but I could feel the skin burning as suntan lotion was applied some 30 hrs previous. It is always an ominous sign when your reading the cue sheet and it says turn on Haugan Hill Road, it was the steepest thing ridden to that point. I hunkered down and tried to power up it, but to no avail I resorted to switch backing the climb. Steve, who was running some super moto tyres, quickly lost traction and walked the hill. Thinking that was the last off the hills we made the fast descent into Decorah. We turned onto some pavement and only one last turn to the cemetery, my mind was thinking no more hills but there was one more. I didn’t even try to power up it, I just started switch backing it until the flat where Mike and Steve waited to cross the finish line together.
My brother was standing there to greet me, which was just awesome. Snob sacrificed himself and gave me the last beer – thanks!!! He also gave me some wipes to cleanse 32h 48m of gravel grime off my face.