Monday, May 04, 2009

TransIowa v.5 - Mission Accomplished...

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...).

The view I saw a lot during TI v.5 -- #60, Matt Wills.

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!!



Biker Bob said...

Way to go Matt. Way to represent the UNK Alumni. ;-)

You planning to make it to L&C next weekend if you knees are doing ok?

mw said...

thanks matt. you rode super solid and were good company for the voyage.

MG said...

Thanks MW - I know we'll get a lot more adventures in this season. Thanks again for the 'perfect pace'. It always rocks.

Bob, I've got to see what's up for next weekend. I've got a cousin graduating from HS that may interfere with my ability to race, but if I can work it out, and my body is up to it, I'd like to toe the line. Hope to see you out there.

shockstar said...

the whole experience was amazing. i honestly don't think i would have finished this thing if i wasn't riding with a group of guys like you. this was the most righteous ride of my life. my heart broke for jeff when he had to pull the plug. please wish him my best and pass along my gratitude to wills. you guys rock.

d.p. said...


d.p. said...


The Oakley prizes went to first and second place SS. Brothers Braun

MG said...

Amen BROTHER! Ben, you were the perfect addition to our group. I was so stoked when we rolled up on eachother and started riding together. It was almost too easy and the laughs it produced were radical no doubt. The hills you could power that thing up were inspiring and to see you pedaling your ass off at more than 20 mph was equally amazing to say the least. Thanks again, my friend. I hope we're able to ride together again soon. Please consider coming over for the Good Life Gravel Enduro, and definitely put the Big Wheel Ballyhoo at Potter's Pasture on your calendar for October 10-11. That one is gonna' be big for Midwest big wheel riders and I was just looking at some pictures of the Potters singletrack today and it's lookin' primo. Hope you'll be able to make it.

Thanks again DP for the awesome event, and also for the update on the Oakley prizes. Those Braun bros. are fast cats and they'll be super stoked now with their new Oakley specs. I've never been satisfied with anything less. They're the best... heck, you know. You wear 'em too!

Oh, BTW, Biker Bob, I double checked and the race this weekend is at Platte River... and I'm a UNL alum. ;-)


Steve Fuller said...

MG it was very sweet seeing you (and all of the other finishers) roll across the finish line Sunday morning. I now understand the effort and the holes one must dig in order get there after hearing you (and Paul Jacobson) try and do nothing other than talk once the event was over. Truly an epic finish for anyone that crosses the line. Glad we got to ride together for a bit in the early morning hours before the sun rose over the horizon.

Jason said...

Nice going MG. That some serious mileage. Great job.

Guitar Ted said...

MG: You know I am so happy for you. Thanks to you, and all the Lincoln crew, Trans Iowa is that much better, that much more fun.

I look forward to riding and working with you soon, but now, you should rest my friend!

Take Care!

oh.....and thanks for all the kind words. I am humbled.

MG said...

Muchos gracias Jason.

And Guitar Ted, you know every word I write is sincere. You are The Shit. Thank you for all that you are and do. It is largely because of you that gravel grinders exist as a form of bicycle racing and whether it's good or bad for your body is debatable but for your soul, well, that's another story and of its worth there is no debate with me.

Thanks again,

CJ said...

Way to go!!!!!

Quite an accomplishment!

Anonymous said...

i'm glad you decided to join the group matt, it was a fun ride.

way to go on the finish!

Tango Fan said...

Matt, I missed that you had a blog, so it was a treat to find the FB link. I love your passion for this sport. Congratulations on finishing TransIowa v.5! And those pictures of you in Moab make me so jealous. I love that area.

MG said...

Thanks CJ and JB.

Jeff, I was extra-bummed when you had to pull the plug. It was the right call though. It's not worth risking your whole riding season to suffer through one event. You know that... Save it for another day.

And Peggy, I'm glad you found my blog. Thank you so much for the kind words. You're so sweet. :-) I've been very fortunate lately to have had some incredible adventures... I am truly blessed.

GNAT said...

MG, good job. I'm glad you "got one under your belt".

You have had quite a 2 weeks of riding.

Congrats again. Can't wait to hear about your next adventure. I'm planning mine right now and it involves a Fargo and the state of Oregon. It's looking quite epic!

MG said...

Thanks Jason -- You know, my Fargo has been hurtin' for some attention lately, so I'm going to give it what it needs... what it deserves now that I've got T.I. under my belt. It feels good to have that one checked off the 'ol list. I'm starting to come out of the mental haze too and am starting to really feel good about what we did out there. It was a great adventure... definitely one that I'll never forget.

We need to figure out when and what our next adventure is going to be, now that it looks like our Colorado plans may not be happening... We'll figure out a suitable "B-plan" I'm sure.

Thanks for the support you and Salsa Cycles have given me over the past couple of years. The bikes you guys make are like an extension of my body. There were times during TransIowa where I'd doze off while riding and wake back up still riding straight down the gravel road! Now that's a good bike that'll keep you upright while you're sleeping!

Thanks again, my friend.


GNAT said...

MG - Colorado in some shape or form is still happening. I've just got another trip in between now and then. Don't fret.

CQ said...

Way to go MG !! I am amazed at the times that you guys finished in!! Hope you can get out here for some singletrack soon .

Cornbread said...

Well done Matt! Congrats! Your strategy was wise. Sounds like you had a great time riding with Wills, Ben and Andy.

MG said...

Thanks guys... Chad, I definitely intend to get out your way soon to get some singletrack and Ballyhoo planning in.

Cornbread, thanks for the thoughts and for all your support during the race. I need to hook up with you and get you your Angry Cow jersey... Jim gave me yours to give to you a couple of weeks ago and I've spaced it off every time I've seen you recently... TERRIBLE!!! Anyway, it's at my house, so let's hook up and make the transfer soon.

Carney said...


MG said...

Muchos gracias senior Carney!