Sunday, April 27, 2008

What to say? Sappy post ahead.

On any given day I love spending time reading blogs and writing my thoughts and feelings into this journal. All day I have put it off because I am speechless. Really... I really don't know what to say. What I do know is that I am a more appreciative, patient, and wise person than I was on Friday. I hope these feelings continue and will not go away.

Like I tell my students at school; going after goals, reaching towards goals that seem unsurmountable, whether the goals are attained or not, make you a better person. This year's Trans Iowa pretty much sums up this experience for me.

I had many feelings towards Trans Iowa: Anger, frustration, excitement, despair, regret and on and on. While about three weeks or so ago these feelings were really peaking and it soon became apparent what I could control and what I couldn't. This made me just feel appreciation for having the opportunity of riding Trans Iowa and to have a good time doing so!

Here is the report: This year I decided to take Friday and Monday (tomorrow) off from work so I could get to Decorah early and I could sleep on Monday if I had stayed up all night on Saturday. On Friday morning Steve Fuller picked up Cory and I and we were off for Decorah by 10:00. We got there early in the afternoon and rode around and were at T Bocks by 3:00. We talked with GT and just chilled. Before we knew it it was 5:30 and the prerace meeting was getting started. Seriously, meeting up with the Yazoo guys, Ken Y., the Lincoln crew, among many others, was a blast. I couldn't stop laughing! We headed back to the hotel and got prepared to ride.

I walked around the room in a complete daze. I couldn't seem to get things together. For whatever reason, I just wasn't thinking straight. This continued on through out Saturday as well, but that is another story told a bit later.

At three in the morning we were up and at them and ready to go. Once at the start we tried to stay warm in the 30 degree temps with wind chill being much colder in the 25-30 mph winds. We took off and I was literally between two groups. I believe (I couldn't see them!) the lead group had 15 or so riders, then there were small groups of 2-3 people that I could see ahead, and then what must have been a group of 20 riders behind me. I was making good time and reeling in pairs of riders. This was until I continued straight ahead at mile 13 or so instead of turning left. I cranked up a huge hill to all of a sudden be at a T intersection on HWY 9. I looked behind me and the pair of riders that were about 1/4 of a mile behind me just a couple of miles ago were gone and I didn't see anyone around me. I figured I messed up and I turned around. When I got back to the correct intersection I had found the group of 20 or so riders. I joined in the fun finding my friends Gary and Jim. I rode to the front and pulled away bringing with me a few people. I continued pulling away until all of a sudden Joe Frost Jr. (TI V.3 finisher) came up on me out of no where pulling 4-5 riders with him. I joined in on the fun, but it wasn't for a couple of miles until they stopped for some food. I continued on my way (remember, my goal was to stay on the bike!) and rode alone much of the time. I was happy to have caught the pairs of riders that I had around miles 6-10 so I had gained my time back more than likely by not stopping and just going fast enough to try to make the checkpoint in time. I got to Cresco just before 8 I believe to find Cory waiting for me. He waited for me for about 15 minutes! What a guy! I took a bit longer than I wanted refilling my bottles, putting gray tape on my shoes to protect my now numb toes, and throwing some bags over my feet. No need for frostbite! Cory and I took off with a young lady named Kristin.

We rode to the south edge of Cresco and hit a T intersection and the cue sheets were not very clear here. We made a wrong turn and lost about 10 minutes. This would be the second time I went the wrong way! Wait, just a few miles later would come the third wrong turn. While watching for the reroute we completely missed it and went 2-3 miles too far and then were stopped by a group coming up from the flooded road. We turned around and finally found the reroute flags. We continued riding in a group and I was having a blast. There were at least three TI finishers in this group so I was feeling good. Tired, but I really was having fun. We continued on our way being blasted by the wind. It was around mile 68 where we stopped at a shelter in a small town. Half the group took off. My friend Jim talked with our friend Gary on the phone. Gary had been riding with a friend that had gotten sick so he was about an hour behind us and suffering by himself. After the conversation Jim, Cory, Dwight Beavers (the 71 year old guy that I bailed with last year)and I took off. We ended up getting off route again and went another 2 miles out of the way! But, wait! There is one more! Just before West Union we missed another turn and ended up riding into the south side of West Union to get back on course. Yes, I was in a daze and I am sure the other guys were as well as we all missed the turns!

We stopped at West Union with about 24 miles to the checkpoint. It was suppose to be mile 85 and I had 96.4 on my computer. Mistakes cost me any chance of making the cut off so we bailed at 1:00 in West Union. There is a very small part of me that thinks that if I hadn't missed those turns that we could have made the cut off, but I am very positive that I would have quit at the checkpoint and I was very cooked by West Union. We ate Hardees where I had a half pound burger and Cory, a vegetarian, ate a 1/3 pound burger in less than 30 seconds I swear!

We were able to get a ride to the check point where Steve was volunteering. We got there to see a bunch of guys laying around. We heard that something like 18-19 riders took off from the checkpoint, but it wasn't just 3 hours later and it seemed that there were only about 5 riders left in the race. We took off for the second check point and once there I decided to ride a bit more so I could turn in my century for the Cup of Dirt. With 96.4 miles on the computer I didn't have far to go. After riding 2 miles around the very small town of Spillville I headed west into the wind on a gravel road for a mile and then turned around to get back to the check point. I had told Cory not more than an hour earlier that I was done with TI and I wouldn't be back. I got back after that 4 mile ride with a smile on my face and was loving riding again! That didn't take much to change my mind! I will be back for TI V.5 if they have it. I know I have the bike dialed and am ready to go!

I learned to appreciate being able to ride my bike for long distances, the friendships that I have through riding, and to not get so bent out of shape about things. Sometimes life is tough and we just have to roll with the punches (or the wind in this case!).

Today, I feel about 98 percent. My legs feel perfect, but my upper back, near my shoulder blades, are somewhat sore. I guess that is from holding on for dear life to my handlebars so I wouldn't fly off the bike due to the wind. Seriously, I mean that!

Happy training.


Neve_r_est said...

Good on ya, Paul! It was a tough ride, by most any standard.


Steve Fuller said...

Paul, You were one of 57 guys that were willing to start and see it through as long as you could. That in itself puts you in some pretty elite company and serves a great example for others. Great job yesterday man. Makes me proud to have you as a friend and a riding partner.

Huevos con Salsa said...

Paul, nice to hang with you a little the other night with Cory. I may try to get in on a few of your Wednesday night rides around Peterson or McFarland if that ends up happening this summer. Great job getting in your hundy. Sounds like the weather made a tough go for everyone.

SquidBuzz said...

You made it much farther than me. By 8am I called for a lift in Cresco. Which took me 2 more hours to get to. I was only averaging about 7 miles an hour. Tough, very tough. I must find a different bike for this. The mountain bike with frame bag was just a big sail for that wind. I thought for sure that I was going down more than once.

It was nice chatting with you on Friday, hopefully we can see each other this summer. The Death Ride or Levi Trow 100.

cornfed said...


Great to see you. It was fun hanging out with you before the race and at the end (aka check point 1). That wind was a bi*ch, huh?

Best of luck and great job.


Carney said...

Nice writeup and even better work! Sounds like it was brutal out there. One of these years I'll have to give TI a go. Keep on pedaling!!

Travel Gravel said...

Paul! You did the most you could do my friend. At least you were thinking on your feet (or seat) and got the century in. You're lucky you don't feel as bad as I do about myself not even going up to Decorah today for the TT. I just plain hate myself for it, but I didn't give a rip about going:( What to do... Good Job and hope to ride soon. Ingawanis? Steve Fuller is going up. Later!

Joe said...

Way to go Paul!

Cornbread said...

Great to see ya again Paul. Even if it was only in passing prior to the meeting on Friday.

You've got nothing to be bummed about. That was an insanely tough event. Anyone starting desires a medal. Keep that chin up and keep on pedalin'.

See you at Kanza!

the inebriationist said...

Paul, I was cussing the whole thing and never wanted to come back...well, I probably will, so should you.

Paul said...

Comments from people like this is what makes endurance cycling so awesome. While most of my good friends are coworkers that have no interest in biking long distances, I feel at home meeting up with the racers this weekend. I need to do a lot more racing.

Thanks guys for the comments!

Reflector Collector said...

It was really good to see a familiar face out there Paul. When I talked to you, not once did you seem defeated. Optimistic all the time. That my friend is impressive!

Maybe a bit low on fun-factor, high in the reward department. See you again next year?

gjc said...

hey, Paul, what the hell? You'll be back and stronger than ever.

I don't care how tough this mofo is, I want to ride it until I'm forced to ride a trike.

Pedal on, bro.

Simmons said...

Great job Paul! I hope to see you at TI5 next year.