Well, how about that, it is Trans Iowa registration time again.
I finished last year but missed the time cut by an hour or so. I thought I would be mentally tortured by this but it really didn't happen. The urge to go back has slowly decreased over the past few months. I am at peace with the race now and don't feel like I HAVE to go again...
I would like to do TI again but I want to have a year with the option to race in the summer. I miss out on this every year due to recovery from some sort of behemoth of a late spring race. Time for something different.
Lee is going back as well as plenty of other folks I met and rode with last year. Pete, our crew from last year, has mentioned going but I don't know anything definite. I might go back to help crew. Who knows.
For those of you thinking about doing it, fucking do it already. Otherwise, you will forever wonder about it. How hard is it? What can my body handle? My mind? Does all farm country look the same? Either go do the same rides you always do next year or go take on something bigger than all of it. Plenty of people simply aren't interested in this sort of race. That is probably a good thing.
Yes, there are plenty of "buts". I think what scares most people away from Trans Iowa is failure. It sure is common there. It really is a great race. Guitar Ted and the volunteers work so hard. It is amazing. Mark, thanks for putting on this race year after year. I know it is hard to plan and work out the kinks, but it really is one of a kind. Hardest one I've done, that is for sure!
Guitar Ted has plenty of equipment and bike tips on his website for the race and they are great. Here are some of my own thoughts that might help those interested.
Cross or MTB. Take whatever you trust and are comfortable on. I did a cross bike last year but would take a mtb with a rigid fork and 1.8 tubeless tires if I went again. Mud clearance is a big issue. I remember being with Scott McConnell on a B Road 315 miles in and digging mud out of a cross bike while he rolled his mtb right on through... It is dark and scary and you need to be as comfortable as possible given the highly probable shit conditions you will be in. Singlespeed people...go easy, the hills are STEEP. Think low 50s for gear inches. I think a 32/17 would be perfect on a 29er. Unless you want to win, then knock yourself out.
Learn to eat crappy gas station food. I was already great at this so it was a non issue. If you are going to implode without 1.25 Honey Stinger LA edition waffles per hour you might have an issue.
Everybody knows what to wear when its hot. Some know when its cold or wet. The trick is getting a combo of stuff that will work together in many conditions and not be redundant. Experiment. Read about stuff hikers use, they have it figured out.
Like the bike, go with what you know. I made a huge mistake here and kept my awesome lights on the bar instead of my helmet like I am used to. If I went again I would do one of my Ayup lights on the helmet with an emergency light on the bar.
Get out in the wind and cold and roll. It will not be pleasant every time. Test your gear, make sure it doesn't suck! The longest ride I did before TI was 9 hours and that was plenty. Ideal training would be at least 12 hours a week with a 12 hour MTB race a month before TI. Unless you are a really good technical rider spend plenty of time on hard trails, it takes a whole different kind of fitness.
Let's say you actually get in and go to Iowa to race. Try and get some sleep two night before the race since you won't get much the night before. I failed miserably at this and had some disturbing night riding moments.
Be very careful about who you ride with. Negativity spreads to everyone around. People that get really quiet all of a sudden are probably bonked or about to. Make friends and talk to those around you. You will know quickly if they will be a good riding buddy. The goal is to be around people who want to FINISH.
You have to be moving pretty quick to get to the checkpoints on time. 10 MPH average sounds like nothing until you are in two inches of peanut butter gravel with a 40 mph wind in your face.
B Roads are as hard as you make them. Don't ride through them, just pick the bike up and start walking no matter how "not that bad" it looks. It is that bad, really.
The party starts in late April. Get some: Trans Iowa V9