Monday, December 09, 2013

Trans Iowa Clinic: Report

Saturday was the day for the Trans Iowa Clinic down in Des Moines, Iowa. We were expecting about 40 folks to show up and learn from some very experienced Trans Iowa finishers and veterans. The venue was an empty sliver of space between Tacopocalypse, (a restaurant run by Trans Iowa veteran, Sam Auen), and an art gallery. Years ago it was a milk truck garage. Back in the days when milk was delivered house to house by dairies instead of procured at grocery stores, trucks were loaded with milk for deliveries at such warehouses.

So the space was rustic and I felt fit the vibe of Trans Iowa perfectly. I couldn't have asked for a better place to do this clinic. Besides that, Sam saw to it that we had chairs, That the Christmas tree was decorated, and that the place was swept and in order, and also that he had staff on hand to run his restaurant so he could attend!

I left town before noon with Mrs. Guitar Ted loaded up with my Singular Gryphon set up for a long gravel ride and my materials I needed to put on the show. Likewise, Steve Fuller, who has ridden in a few Trans Iowas, photographed a few, and also finished T.I.v9, was there early to set up a ginormous screen, projector, lap top with power point presentation, and he brought a P.A along with his Salsa La Cruz steel bike set up for T.I.

Looking toward the entrance- R-L: Mrs Guitar Ted, Steve, and Mike
Mike Johnson, a multiple Trans Iowa finisher and Tour Divide finisher came down with his wife and he brought a slew of tire samples, materials for the riders to take notes, some chairs for us to sit on, some gear to show, and his own titanium Vaya set up for a Trans Iowa attempt.

Steve and Sam, along with his staff, had most of the work done by the time the rest of us had arrived, but we took our time getting things arranged correctly and talked a bit about how we were going to run the show. We all ate at various times from Sam's fantastic restaurant, Tacopocalypse throughout the day. Again- I highly recommend the place if you ever get to Des Moines!

So things were running smoothly and by 4:00pm we were pretty much set to go and receive our guests. There were three tables full of gear, Steve's, Mike's, and my bicycles along with the bicycles of Dan Buettner and last Trans Iowa winner, Dick Wince's bike.  All represented different ways to set up a Trans Iowa bike and I think these really were an influence on visitors to the Clinic.

Mid-set up: Tables with Trans Iowa type tires, gear, and later, some bags riders use. 
Two of the five bicycles we had on display, all set up, ready to ride a Trans Iowa. 
Mike and Steve during the Q&A session
At about 5:00pm, some folks started to wander in and take in what we had on display. Soon I found myself deep into conversations with some folks I have met through Trans Iowas and also with some new folks coming for their very first Trans Iowa. Mike and Steve were also available and talking with the various folks stopping in.

Then it was time to start the show. I made a few announcements and then we rolled the documentary "300 Miles of Gravel", which I think we found out everyone there had seen before, so obviously folks are researching Trans Iowa!

After this, I invited Steve and Mike up and we dove into the "meat" of what went on for the evening. I basically was the "moderator/MC", and kind of just helped flow things along while Steve and Mike began to share their experiences and thoughts on everything from bikes, to gear, to strategy, and more. While the audience didn't have a lot of questions, it was obvious that they were engaged in what was being shared. I saw a LOT of note taking going on!

Steve making a point on his bike set up while Mike assists with steadying his steed.
We started out with bicycle choice and why certain bicycles were chosen after starting with others. Steve and Mike are both great examples of how learning from experiences has taught them certain lessons and pushed them towards certain bicycle choices which are quite different from where they started.

The next section was mostly about gear: Tires, lights and bags were discussed and why things were chosen were shared by Mike and Steve. It was about this time when we enjoyed additional commentary coming from Trans Iowa V9 winner, Dick Wince, (aka "Mr. Charming") , Matt Maxwell, and Dan Buettner. With all of this vast Trans Iowa experience on hand, it really made for a well rounded showcase of what works and what doesn't to cover 300+ miles of gravel in one sitting.

We also appreciated the additional content provided by Matt Gersib via images of his T.I.v10 bike set up which we dissected and discussed, so all in all it was really information packed and I think it didn't really focus too much on any single aspect of set up, but showed that riders need to devise and "thinker through" their own set up and make changes based upon what works best for them. This also applied to lights, but I found it interesting that a very underscored point was to get a good light to see signage with mounted on your helmet for night riding navigational purposes. All were in agreement with that one!

Post event hanging out and questions abounded!
We started the event at 5:35pm and the Q&A session started at about 6:20pm. We didn't wrap thing up until 9:30pm, and it could have went far, far longer than that! I was conscious of time and tried to keep things moving along, but I could definitely see that there are a lot of curious minds and much to be shared about this gravel road riding and ultra-distance event riding on gravel. Afterward, everyone in attendance received a bag of Hammer Nutritional supplements as a thank you for attending.

Of course, eventually everything came to an end. So, how well did this go? All I can say is that we received many thank yous, many compliments, and no criticisms at all, (although even I know we could have tweaked it out to be better). I would say yes- it was a big success in my opinion. It came together seamlessly mostly due to the excellent quality of folks involved: Steve Fuller, Mike Johnson, Sam Auen, Dick Wince, Matt Maxwell, and Dan Beuttner were all instrumental in making this clinic a well rounded, information rich experience.

Afterward, we broke everything down, packed up our belongings, and went to Zombie Burger in Des Moines for a late supper. It was super fun to celebrate a great collaboration amongst friends. Well done and thank you to everyone involved!  After all of the festivities, Mrs. Guitar Ted and I had a two hour drive home, and we didn't get back until 3am! Let me tell you, my Sunday started at 6am, and it was a rough day! But that said, I had a ton of fun sharing with everyone our passion for gravel riding and what it takes to do that comfortably for a long distance.

Now, I have to address all of you who are going to "wish that you were there", and all of you who will wonder if all this knowledge and what not will be shared, repeated in another event, or what have you. Unfortunately I have to say without any reservations that "no- it won't", at least not by our crew. Not anytime soon, at any rate. We do encourage all who have the will to get up and take action to do so locally. I think it would be a great idea for this to happen with local knowledge on a small scale all over the country.

That said, without spilling the beans, I do know of a "major event promoter's" plans to do a multi-day gravel clinic. You'll hear about it soon and see it linked here. Stay tuned.....

As for the Trans Iowa Clinic, that;'s a wrap.


shiggy person said...

Did you video record the clinic?

Guitar Ted said...

@shiggy person: due to the low budget nature of the clinic and how it came together, (read- we spent all our own money to put this on), we didn't have anyone tasked with recording the event. There was one individual who attended and tried her hand at videoing the event, but she didn't get the beginning and it ran longer than she thought and it filled up her memory card before we were finished.

So, no. No video.

T-Dub said...

For Iowa gravel group rides which Clement tire would be better for a La Cruz Ti? Clement USH 35, Clement MSO 40 (would they fit?), or Bontrager X0 38? Ultimately for Dirty Kansa or Trans Iowa.

shiggy person said...

I did not even think of video unti readingl your report.

It would have been interesting.

Dr. Giggles said...

Looked like a great place for the TI clinic. Chapeau to Mike and Steve for sharing their knowledge and experiences. Look forward to seeing you guys in Grinnell.

T-Dub: I had a pair of Clement MSO 40 (120tpi) on my Lynskey ProCross for TIV9. They are still running strong after 4500 miles, though the rear tire is just beginning to show some wear. Will mount a new pair on the Lynskey for TIV10. Cannot say enough good things about these amazing tires. A Slender Fungus 5-star rating!!!

Guitar Ted said...

@T-Dub: I would look at the Clement MSO, and I'm pretty sure that should fit as well.

@Dr. Giggles: Look forward to seeing you soon too.

T-Dub said...

Should mention Durace Hub/ Mavic Open Pro rim set probably as am told can only go up to 35 tire maybe 38 for my La Cruz Ti

Guitar Ted said...

@T-Dub: Narrower rims will make the MSO's narrower as well. I measured mine at slightly wider than 38mm on 25mm wide HED Ardennes+ rims, so those Mavics will make the MSO narrower than what I measured.