Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Looking Back At "300 Miles Of Gravel"

During the Geezer Ride, I was asked about "300 Miles Of Gravel", which is the documentary of T.I.V7 filmed by Jeff Frings. To clean up a little business, I will first point out that you can purchase a DVD of this HERE. Now that I have that taken care of, I wanted to reflect a bit on the film with the perspective of three following Trans Iowas after the one documented on the DVD.

There are several things about this film that I think about when I watch it that many of you out there that have seen it may not see, or know about at all. Conversely, I have been told about things that the riders saw and knew about that happened in the film that I didn't realize at all. Perspectives are a wonderful thing! So, I wanted to just touch on a few of the things I think about when I see "300 Miles Of Gravel" that you may find interesting.
  • The beginning of the film starts out with a replay of the National Weather Service's forecast and some audio of me from my audio-blog that I used for "Trans Iowa Radio". The particular audio clips Jeff Frings used there in the beginning were actually from Friday, the day before the event when I was traveling down to Grinnell. I can remember exactly where I was, out in Tama County, when I made that post, but T.I.V7 hadn't even started yet! 
  • As you see the title roll out, the scene is of the race start. There is a shot of the riders coming at the camera, which was taken by Jeff Frings hanging out the back end of David Pals' Element. The audio has the acoustic guitar music, and if you listen closely, you will hear what sounds like a horn blowing and cowbells clanging. The "horn" was actually me blowing a note on a Salsa Cycles Woodchipper bar. I could do that since David was driving. I've always wanted to do that again, but it's kind of difficult when you are driving as well!
  • Of course, there is the whole B Road scene in the dark, but besides the fact that this became a major factor in the outcome of the event for many, it wasn't even really part of the course! There were two other, crazy, gnarly B Roads which either Jeff never filmed or didn't make the final cut.
    The B Road that didn't make the cut. (Image by S. Fuller)
    I kind of wished at least one of them would have been in the movie because they both are pretty spectacular "roads". 
  • The big hill on the cover, (seen above), for the DVD is what I dubbed the "Wolf Creek Wall". It isn't all that far from Waterloo, actually, where I live, and it was scheduled to be on the T.I.V10 route. However; the bridge leading up to it, (also featured in the film), was out and that's where the reroute happened.
    The bridge from T.I.V7 that led to the "Wolf Creek Wall" is no more.
Besides those details, (and others I won't delve into now), the main thing I see now is that T.I.V7 was a watershed year for Trans Iowa. Yes.....a lot of things changed. But more than that, it was definitely the last Trans Iowa where the B Roads really were a mess and tough to the point of causing issues for the riders, and the first one where we had a female finisher- Janna Vavre- who came back and finished Trans Iowa again in V9.

That Janna finished that Trans Iowa was a really big deal, to me at any rate, and I feel it kind of blew the doors off the barriers to the event for women.  Although it took a year to take effect, as we had a small Womens field in V8 and no women finished that year, ever since then the class has had a healthy amount of competitors and finishers with Monika Sattler even running with the front runners in V9. It used to be that we were stoked just to see a couple gals even enter the event! Now we expect a women to maybe even win the overall someday. It could happen, but I wouldn't have ever guessed at that even three or four years ago. Jana really was a pioneer in that respect.

I heard last weekend that some of you out there still watch "300 Miles Of Gravel" and enjoy it. I find that it is a compelling view into what Trans Iowa is, and I am humbled to know that many enjoy that work. I am sure Jeff Frings appreciates that as much as I do. I am not sure how I feel about the thing, at the end of the day. It is kind of personal for me. That said, it is out there and I just kind of tune it out most of the time. I even forget about it some days until I run across someone that saw it re-air on IPTV here when they have occasionally chosen to show it. "Hey! You're that guy that puts on that Trans whatcha-ma-call-it deal, aren't you?". 

Yep. That's me.

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