|No one is coming to get ya if'n ya break down here.|
We learned a lot from Mike over the years, and I will admit up front that a lot of his advice and commentary on our silly gravel event took a while to sink in and get applied to T.I., but eventually it did. We didn't go 100% with what I feel he would have done, but we did go a long ways toward his, and the rest of the GDR crew's, rules regarding self support.
Yesterday, a comment was made regarding this idea of "self support". The comment was that it used to be that the riders helped each other out, and "support crews" were unheard of. The commenter wondered if we'd lost something along the way.
Well, I am pretty sure the answer from a "GDR" point of view would be that neither idea presented in the above summation of the comment left is right, or in the spirit of "self support". I am pretty sure the idea of "self" means "you, the rider" in a singular sense, and by definition that pretty much excludes any help from any one individual, no matter if they are racing or no. At least in the strictest sense of that idea, I believe that is true.
Of course, if you are in need of assistance that can not be provided for by a fellow rider, you are done as far as Trans Iowa is concerned. At that point, there has been a divergence from what we do at T.I. and what other events see fit to require.
We suggest a person be available to come and fetch you, since anyone associated with Trans Iowa won't. Or....you could just take care of yourself, and many folks do just that. They ride back from where ever it is they decide they can not finish Trans Iowa. Either way- You Are Responsible For Yourself. The trick is knowing "when to say when", which is long before your tank runs dry, or long before you allow your mind to descend into exhaustion induced madness. Long before your knee gives out completely, or long before you are so sunburnt you are sick. Whatever; I am sure you are getting the picture by now.
In many ways, knowing when to "pull the plug" on a Trans Iowa attempt is harder than actually riding yourself into a bad situation. In many ways, stopping when you should is a lost art. This, to my mind, is an honorable, wise, mature, and "right" thing to get straight and be capable of before you attempt something like a Trans Iowa.
If you as a rider "get" that you need to take care of your own business out there without putting yourself or anyone else at risk, the self support issue is not a big deal. Sure- there are extenuating circumstances, and we can sit here and dream up scenarios all day long which fall outside of the above, but ya gotta agree that the vast majority of issues at these big gravel grinders, (or other ultra-endurance events), can be settled by having a good grasp on your own destiny.