Thursday, April 28, 2016

Trans Iowa V12: Heroes

Wally Kilburg, photographer and TI hero, making us look like heroes.
You know, a lot of the time we tend to focus on the winners, or the people we think are steering the ship in an organization, team, or event. However; in any endeavor, I am of the opinion that there are unsung heroes. People that have much more importance than we may know.

There are time limits in Trans Iowa, and as many of you know, if you miss them, you are done, in terms of the event. It was set up this way to weed out slower folks and so we wouldn't have to be standing at the finish line and checkpoints waiting on riders for hours and hours. We have jobs and families, so waiting until Monday morning for you to finish is not an option. By missing a checkpoint, you don't get cues for the next section, so your ride is essentially done. However, back in T.I.v8, a few riders figured out that if they made checkpoint two, the last one, that they could finish on the route despite missing the 2:00pm cut off time.

Since then we've had probably at least one person a year, with exception of last year, that came in far past the cut off time. So it was to be again this year. Three folks who gutted it out, despite knowing that they had no chance of getting an "official finish".

A couple of heroes, just for one day. Image by Jon Vandis.
Two of these folks were first timers to the event. Crystal Wintle and Jon Vandis. Thinking about that, it occurs to me that if you, or most anyone else I know of, were knowingly going to fall short of a challenge, especially one so tough, I think most of us would just throw in the towel. I mean, why torture yourself? 

I don't know the answer to that, but I do know that when I drove away from T.I.v12's finish area, it was just as we left it. A nice green park. No traces of Trans Iowa ever having been there were evident, yet here these two are, smiling like champions where that finish line was for them. They reached the end of the cues, and took away a personal satisfaction that they had just knocked off 340 miles in one sitting. Amazing! Truly heroic.

There were three of these folks though, like I said before, and perhaps the last fellow out on the course of T.I.v12 is the most curious, in a way.

Scott McConnell coming to the intersection of E 84th St N & HWY 14
His name is Scott McConnell. A past Tour Divide finisher, Scott has finished outside the time limit at Trans Iowa three times now. Three. That's absolutely incredible, and I'll tell you why....

Just the other day a few of us were remarking on how the fast guys are out there for what? 24 hours to 30 hours? Okay, so taking that into account, think about this image of Scott, the last image I took during T.I.v12, well......actually after it was over! Anyway, consider that in this image Scott is still 15 miles out and it is 4:00pm in the afternoon! That's 36 hours folks, and he was battling 20+ mph head winds, heat, fatigue, and still finished the route later that afternoon. 

Now, I don't give out any "Official" recognition for finishing outside the time limits of Trans Iowa. It is a challenge that you either overcome, or that you do not overcome. However; that doesn't mean these folks aren't champions. It doesn't make them "less" for not being on the "official finisher's list", and in many ways, I feel they are the toughest, most determined Trans Iowa riders the event has ever seen. You could call them my heroes.

Heroes, just for one day......

Next: American Horse


S.Fuller said...

Scott McConnell is as tough as nails and a great person. John VanDis is one of the calmest, nicest guys I know. I didn't have chance to meet Crystal before the race this year, but I'll take a chance and assume she's equal parts tough and nice. I never saw her without a smile on her face. Kudos to all three of them for sticking it out in less than optimal conditions.

STF_ill said...

These are great updates, Ted! I was concerned I'd miss a play-by-play recount, but this is actually much better. Thanks!

Jon VanDis said...

Thanks Mark. It means a lot. It was an emotional moment to run out of 'time in the bank" 17 or so miles from the finish. The driveway on the left in your picture of Scott is where it happened, and Crystal came rolling down that hill about 5 minutes later. You didn't have to come check on us, but you did, and I thank you for that too. The three of us rode a lot of miles together off and on throughout the race and I'm proud to say I know them both.

Scott Redd said...

These three are amazing, and it's great that they are getting some words here in this forum. I was honored to ride along and play leapfrog with them for many, many hours. I had the idea that I would try to finish with them, but once that evil "you're done" switch popped in my head, I just couldn't pedal any more.

I remember trying to find a group to fall in with after I left my buddy Pell near Gladbrook. I came up to Scott and Crystal and asked, "Are you pedaling to finish this?" Scott replied, "Oh, yeah. For sure." Dang, he was right.

I'll certainly carry the sentiment of this write-up with me on all future endeavors.

gerrireggi said...

So it is.
What is the "official finisher's list", what is the "time cut off-thing" comparing with riding all that 340 miles to the finish line.
Congretulation to those three
Thanks Mark for that writing.

(who did not reach CP1 in TI V11)

Eyeing this years Trans Iowa, with completely different conditions, it hurts a little bit.
But that's all belonging to Trans Iowa.
Thank you Mark, for being part of Trans Iowa.