I've done a lot of things in my life, but none quite compare with what I just went through in the middle of Iowa over the past two days. To say I've seen a lot would be an understatement and I feel I'm just starting to scratch the surface on the lessons I'll learn from the experience. I don't even feel qualified to tell the tale of the journey quite yet. Frankly, I'm surprised to even be awake.
For as solitary of a journey TransIowa, and other ultra-endurance events are made out to be, it takes the support of a lot of people, both at the event and in other places to be able to ride 320 miles on a bike, so in lieu of me blathering on and on about this or that about what went on during the race, how about I take a few moments to thank the people who made it possible for me to do it. I'll sprinkle in a few pictures from the few I shot along the way, mostly from Saturday morning as the sun was coming up.
If it weren't for my beautiful wife Laura, who I met exactly 16 years ago today, this absolutely would not have been possible. Thank you. For as long as we've known eachother, I've been a bike racer and I understand it takes a very, very strong and special person to love and support that weird passion. I am so incredibly fortunate to have her on my team. I appreciate all that you do to keep our lives running in my absence, and that you're able to handle an un-mowed back yard, because I was gone racing my bike all weekend (and of course now my knees hurt too bad to go out and mow it right now...).
I would not have finished TI v.5 this year if it hadn't been for the great company and perfect pace set by Matt Wills, himself now a two-time TransIowa finisher (both times on singlespeeds, no less). Matt is typically pretty astute when it comes to pacing and I'm typically pretty keen to go out too hard, so I knew after 10 miles, when MW wasn't in the group I was in, I was riding too fast. I knew that wasn't my game plan, so I held up and waited for MW and Jeff Bonsall to ride up to me. Man was I glad I did... it was the best decision I made the entire day. Sometimes to finish, you've gotta' let the lead group go. Maybe not for Joe Meiser (the race winner, who is an awfully nice guy himself...), but for me, it was just the ticket. Anyway, I digress, but thanks again MW. You were the glue that kept it together for me in TI v.5. I owe this one to you.
I also owe a big thank you to fellow TI v.5 competitor, Skip Cronin for his tire sacrifice at the second checkpoint. Skip was dropping out of the race and I was having a rear tire failure that would have been disasterous to my chances of finishing. With my only option for a hand-up being from a fellow competitor, or procuring a 700c tire from one of the establishments in the small Iowa town we were in, Skip's misfortune in the race turned fortuitous for me in terms of my ability to now finish the race on a tire that was complete. Skip's War Axe war wagon Suburban also once again powered the Nebraska crew's race effort, this time with Oscar... ummm, I mean Oliver at the helm. ;-) Thanks again Skip.
Thanks to Oliver Banta for coming along with us and providing us a bailout for those who chose to accept it. Thankfully I wasn't one of them this year, but it was afully nice knowing you were only a phone call away. I talked to at least four fellow competitors during the race who had no such bailout plans, so if they failed in the race, they were basically screwed. Thanks for sacrificing your weekend so that we weren't placed in that situation. I sincerely intend to make it up to you somehow... I don't know exactly how yet, but I will. Thank you.
Thank you to Guitar Ted and David Pals for putting on this crazy race. Man, without you two, I wouln't have anything to talk about here! I admire you both and thank you for your work to promote the sport of cycling. I can't wait to see you both soon, when I'm a little more coherent and we can celebrate this awesome race. Thanks again for puttin' it on!!
Thanks to fellow competitors Ben Shockey and Andy Stockman for riding with MW and I for at least half the event. It was way more than half the event for Ben, yet he actually thanked me at the finish for helping him through the event... I feel like I owe him a debt of gratitude. We all contributed to eachother's success, and I think that sums up what we're all kind of feeling right now, the realization that we completed something that, while it won't change the balance of the world, in a lot of ways, it's something that's a pretty big thing. And we did it with a minimal amount of drama. It was in large part due to the company of Ben and Andy... Thanks again guys.
Finally, thank you to my sponsors -- Jason Boucher at Salsa Cycles; Nate, Eric and Mark at Monkey Wrench Cycles and Rob Versteegth of Oakley (who ironically, is Iowa's Oakley rep). These are the folks that I want to work with and who have been generous enough to also want to have me riding with their gear. Thank you so much for your support.
The bike setup I was on was my Salsa Chili Con Crosso with a seatpost-mounted Bontrager rack and rack-mounted trunk. That allowed me to not carry a bag on my back, which was my downfall last year. I was glad to be on an older bike too when we got into the muddy B road sections... either that or a ti bike, but I don't have any of those. Some of the really fast guys were on sweet new ti bikes though... Anyway, Monkey Wrench Cycles is your source for Salsa Cycles in the Lincoln area. They're downtown at 1225 P Street.
I used Oakley Flak Jacket eyewear -- VR28 lenses during the day, clear lenses during the night -- and they were, as always, perfect. The hydrophobic coating kept dust and sweat from sticking from the lenses, and them from needing to be cleaned, even in heavy dust. That was a major time saver.
My body is not doing too bad. My knees were really hurting yesterday, but are merely hurting today. More than anything, I'm just tired and need to eat a lot. What I'm looking forward to is the boost in fitness this is going to give my body if I'm able to just rest enough to let it take root. That'll be really sweet...
I'm really happy for Joe Meiser, because I know he worked super hard for the win this year and he deserves the title. It's many years in the making and it was good to see him finally realize his goal. He got hosed by a derailleur hanger and wheel failure last year and I've been hearing rumors about the hardcore training rides he'd been doing. The minute he arrived and I saw the bike setup he pulled out of his car, I had him pegged for the win. In fact I even said to MW -- "Meiser's gonna' take it this year," when we were standing in the parking lot of the hotel watching Meiser put his wheels on Friday afternoon.
So, with that the first of my TransIowa v.5 recaps is in the books. I hope you enjoyed, or at least weren't too bored by it. But if you got to this point, chances are you weren't. Thanks for reading, now get out and ride your bike!! It's a nice day out!!