Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Trans Iowa V.5
I have been trying to put into words how I feel about Trans Iowa V.5, but it is hard to do. It is very hard to explain to people unless you (like many of the people that will be reading this!) have set a goal and had that be one of the top goals you have for a year. And fail at meeting that goal for three years in a row until you finally succeed. I will start at the beginning and will be as modest as one can be after finally feeling like Trans Iowa. :^)
In 2005 I was a support person for Jim McGuire and Gary Cale. Jim actually was my doctor at times during my childhood and stitched up my leg in the ER after a bike accident during my freshman or sophomore year in high school! I guess I owned him! The first person I met at TI V.1 was Mike Curiak. Jim went up to him to talk and Jim was obviously star struck. Jim later told me something to the effect, "That is the Michael Jordan of endurance mountain biking." At the time I didn't get it!
I watched the start that year (HECK! I think the start was at 8 AM that year! How is that fair?) and drove the van around the course and watched in total amazement. I thought I was watching what was the edge of human possibility. I had rode RAGBRAI in high school and thought that was an accomplishment. To almost ride across the state in a day on gravel and B roads was just out of this world. It was only a few months later and I bought my first mountain bike.
That winter I signed up for Trans Iowa V.2 and was completely addicted. I was riding like crazy in all kinds of conditions. I had the support of several good riders telling me I was doing well. The race came and we all know how horrible those conditions where! I literally went into a mild depression I swear. I was so bummed that I had put hundreds of hours into training and actually got off course at mile 35 and quit in a town at mile 50. I was devastated.
The training for TI V.3 was not quite as intense, but was still pretty solid. I was still riding my 500 dollar 26 in mountain bike. We had IDEAL conditions for TI V.3 and I really had a shot at finishing. I was feeling strong and got to the first and only checkpoint at mile 135 or so with plenty of time. We got to the next town of La Porte City and we sat around a little Dairy Sweet for a good hour and a half sharing stories and eating a ton. We took off and I quit with a friend named Dwight Beavers at mile 200. At the time Dwight was out of fluids as he crashed and his bottles came open and spilled! We went into a town to see if there was a bar open at 1:45 in the morning and there was nothing. We called in supports and that was it. Ever since that day I have fought with my morals on whether I should have stayed with my friend Dwight or if I should have gone on. I have battled this demon for a bit actually. I am a bit selfish with this and I am normally not this way, but I have invested so much into wanting to finish TI it has been a bit of a mental struggle. I know I did the right thing in staying with Dwight that night. I was the better man for it.
Then came TI V.4. My training was a bit less than the previous year, but I had a better bike. I had a Redline Monocog Flight, had some lightweight rims built up and put some Kenda Small Block 8 cross tires (35's) on. This made bike noticeably lighter, faster and I was able to coast quite a bit more. I was feeling pretty good about TI. Well, let's say it actually snowed the day of TI V.4 and the winds were in the 30 mph range with larger gusts. I actually saw a very strong young lady get blown right off her bike the wind was so strong. Well, barely anyone made the checkpoint (I quit at mile 96 as I was going too slow to make the cut off) and only a handful left the checkpoint. I can honestly say this didn't bother me much as this particular time I was a bit more sane about it all.
Then came Trans Iowa Version 5. TI V.5 totally over took my thinking much like it did in during my training for V.2. I was a running machine during the winter months and was riding single speed all winter. I wasn't riding a ton in the winter, maybe 5-8 hours a week tops. I had some weeks where I didn't ride at all. Over the winter I started commuting into Ames at least twice a week which is usually a 15-20 mile round trip ride. I threw in some rides with friends Paul Varnum, Matt Maxwell, Stephen Carney, and Nick Wethington. All of these guys really pushed me. I had down two centuries and 4 or so metric centuries before TI. One key workout was a metric starting at 6 on a Friday night and then waking up around 5:30 on Saturday morning to ride a full century. This was a very good indicator as I rode the metric very hard and still finish the century with quite a bit of gas in the tank. I really felt I had pretty fitness going into TI V.5. But, what I think made the most difference was my plan to ride 25 25 milers in just over 30 days. After work I would ride nearly every night and this REALLY made the difference. Riding the gravel at night by myself always trying to get to 25 really helped at TI. I broke Trans Iowa into 25 mile chunks and it actually made TI feel shorter if that makes sense.
Ok. Time for bed. I will write about the specifics of the ride tomorrow or Thursday!