Saturday, April 30, 2016

Trans Iowa v12: Stop This Game

When I started this series on Trans Iowa v12 I mentioned that there was a lot of behind the scenes drama this time. Well, there was and some of it was pretty dismaying. It is a side of Trans Iowa I usually don't talk about, but I think it is high time to have a little "full disclosure".  Everything has its bad side, its negatives, and things that aren't all that fun to deal with. Here's a list of things from this edition of Trans Iowa.   

First off, I was made aware that an individual that came to Trans Iowa to help support a rider was, well......drunk and out of order. So much so that this individual was being inappropriate to others and got "sick" in a public hot tub at a motel where other riders were staying for the event. I heard from a good friend that went down to use this hot tub that it was a complete mess and that there was even more vomit spread elsewhere in a public area. A worker at the motel was so upset that they were crying as they had to clean up the mess.


Besides the completely obvious, many don't know that I sign a contract with the motels to guarantee the room blocks get filled up which has a clause about damages to rooms which I could be liable for. In this instance, it was a mess made in the common area, but still..... Just stop it already! This isn't high school prom or a college beer party. Grow up! Sheesh.....This is something that needs to be discussed and I am going to put it out there in the hopes that with the knowledge that stuff like this is going on, maybe the gravel cycling community can police itself and knock this nonsense off.

The scene at CP#1
Okay, so then after the Meat-Up, I find out someone is missing a page out of their cue sheets. Bah! Well, we had extras and I hit the fellow up at the start line with a spare. No problem. But then after CP#1, we had a guy missing pages in his set of cues. He hooked up with a following rider, then we had no further issues with cue sheets, but you start worrying, you know.

Then at Deep River some of the riders were being approached by an emergency vehicle on a gravel road just outside of the village and did not yield the road way. lights, sirens blaring.... You get the hell out of the way, right? I'm sorry, but this is unacceptable behavior. It really bugs me that people would not take a few seconds to just get out of the way. It's not going to affect the ride and their time. There is no excuse. Had I seen it, I would have DQ'ed the offending riders right then and there.

Well, that wasn't the end of it, as I had to apologize to the Deep River head of the EMS department which was necessary, but only because of some boneheaded riders actions. We're better than this folks. Really, we are.

Contested ground at Checkpoint #2
Next up was some tense moments at the location of Checkpoint #2 when we set up to receive the riders. Of course, we had the issue with the re-route, but that was well in hand. The Checkpoint seemed a benign deal, until we were approached by a local farmer, who was concerned that we were along the lines of what they normally see around there. Folks that tear up the dirt road with their cars, turn around on their land, and then get stuck. Finally, these nere do wells approach their farm asking for a pull out of the mud. Well, there also was the issue of "parking on their land", amongst other things. We were able to assuage the farmer's fears, and after some discussions, we were on good terms. But, that could have gone poorly and we may have had some problems with our checkpoint location. Even though we were on a public roadway. In the end, it was not a big deal, but it added to the stress levels.

Then we had a volunteer's wife get ill back home and she had to be taken to the hospital. That volunteer was released to go back home immediately, of course, but we were very concerned for that situation during the remainder of Saturday and Sunday. I should say that everything turned out well with them, so no worries now. 

I should also mention that we had a rider hit a large dog, go down, and separate his shoulder. More bad stuff to deal with, but again, it worked out okay and we were able to move along. Things went smoothly Saturday afternoon, night, and Sunday, until we couldn't track down a couple of riders. One called the wrong number to DNF, and the other forgot. That happens every year, but on top of the rest of the stuff that happened, it was not what I was looking forward to at the end of a long weekend.

I felt inside my brain like Josh Lederman felt here at the end of T.I.v12
Then there is the usual let down at the end of any Trans Iowa. Most of you have no idea what I go through, but after all the hoopla, stress, and worry of any Trans Iowa, I find myself alone and completely exhausted at the finish line area. It is really, really tough on me, not only physically, but mentally. It is a time I usually have to fight my demons and try to stay "up". This sometimes carries on for only an hour or so, but sometimes it can be a couple of days. These days, depression is talked about a lot more than it used to be, so I don't mind saying that I find post-Trans Iowa a time that can be a real struggle with that. This year things were compounded when on the Tuesday after the event my Grandmother died.

So, when you see me writing or hear me talking about not thinking about a future Trans Iowa, or maybe even talking about it not happening, maybe, ever again, that is real. I'm not joking, and these things I have outlined today all contribute to that feeling that I just want out. Stop this game. Walk away. Be free.

This isn't a post many of you thought you'd ever expect me to write about Trans Iowa. However; it is a side of putting this on that has always been there. Every year there is some level of drama, life happenings, and stress and yes- depression- that happens with this deal. It is a side of Trans Iowa that hasn't "won out" yet, but I have struggled mightily with it over the years. I figured it was about time to just get that out there.

Now you know.

Next: Photograph


Ben said...

As "they" say, the struggle is real. The events I've put on pale in comparison to the Trans Iowa but I get it.
After each event I tell myself the stress and sleepless nights aren't worth it and I'm done. I've passed one race off to another individual but still have my hands in another. In a wierd way I kind of like it too. Plus the whole "time heals" thing helps.
Selfishly I hope you continue as I still have a score to settle with Trans Iowa but I fully understand if you step back.
Happy Riding!

Steven Butcher said...

First, my condolences on the passing of your grandmother. I want to share a few thoughts about your post, GT. I hope I'm not speaking out of turn as I don't have a "dog in this fight", nor will I ever; but I do enjoy gravel bicycling and following gravel riding and racing. I appreciate your transparency in sharing your deep feelings about the whole Trans Iowa experience as it effects you. Transparency is a term oft tossed about these days. Many times I question the sincerity of the user of the term. It is apparent, you're obviously quite sincere. As someone who also fights those "demons", depression is a very real thing and not something you can just snap yourself out of. Be patient with yourself and look forward to rest, time with your family, and feeling better. If you decide V12 is the last Trans Iowa, I don't think anyone could blame you. It appears overall the event was a resounding success and, if it is your decision, a good one to go out on.

Bruce Brown said...

Condolences on the loss of your Grandmother.

PPD (post project depression) is real. I think just about any race director or event director can relate. In my own circumstance, whether from directing a race, a series, directing or performing in an opera, a big project or event, etc.. that post event let down can be a whammy to deal with and work through in the subsequent days/weeks/months.

I've read lots of "stuff" about it, how to handle it, and what not over the years. As you state, you are well aware of it and it's something others may not even know you are experiencing. Reading your blog post today rang a bell. I thought I would respond since you said it so well and put it out there for consideration.

In reading your post Trans Iowa reports, you always seem to go through the normal steps to work through it, but as we know - that doesn't lessen the PPD with each subsequent year. Every year is different, and the speed we reorganize, relax and recover, reward ourselves, reconnect with family, rediscover ourselves all take on their own unique pace and outcome.

Could be a worthy topic of panel discussion if there is ever another Race Director's Summit at Bike Expo (such as the one that IBRA sponsored this year).

All the best at working through the PPD this time around. You rang the bell for many of us that understand how you are feeling.

coop6 said...

Thanks for taking the time this week to converse with me offline about this, in what was surely a difficult week for you. Sorry to hear about the loss of your grandmother.
I know a thing or three about post event depression. It happens to me after every race, in varying degrees. The worse the sleep deprivation, the worse I feel and the longer it takes to recover. As a race director, you get no sleep either and you have all of the stress associated with the event as well. I'm not surprised to hear that it hits you too.
Hang in there GT. All the best to you and your family.
Sarah Cooper

Guitar Ted said...

Thanks everyone. I hadn't considered that there was such a thing as PPD. It makes things, maybe this sounds strange, but it makes it easier to know that I am not an "odd duck" out here. Thanks for that realization which is helping me work this out.

Banger said...

I was the one who surprisingly didn't have all his cue sheets after check point one and it was no big deal! It just added to the adventure, forced me to slow down and meet some cool people. It wasn't drama for me and it gave me another chapter of such an exceptional story! Everything about this event was exceptional, especially your work and the passion of the volunteers. I am so thankful you shared your vision with me, and while my dad didn't ride it was an exceptional bonding experience. The concept of #unlearnpavent is more than the surface. My legs were strong enough to finish hours earlier and I beat myself up after for why I decided to take a nap, for not checking my cues, for trying to ride away from a group and then get lost (without cues) - lots I could have done differently and finding myself angry for my decisions. But I got to ride my bike, practice my zombie apocalypse skills by following tracks, bond with my father, take a nap and still finish, get a breakfast burrito at a store that wasn't open for the other finishers and meet some great people. From that perspective, I took first place. I won. But then I kick myself for letting 20 people pass me while I slept, which wasn't something I needed to do to finish. It was strictly a safety decision I made because I had time in the bank. It's hard to let go of that mindset, the drive to perfection, to have done better. But this event was perfect, whole and complete as it was. It impacted my life in a positive way and I want to thank both you as he volunteers for allowing that. I hope to see you again!

Guitar Ted said...

@Banger: Hey, thanks for those heartfelt and considerate comments. That is the stuff that keeps me going, to be honest with you.

It would appear that perhaps we both have perfectionist issues, yes? That's what it was regarding the cue sheets from my perspective- something wasn't perfect, and that falls short of my personal expectations. thank you for being so cool about that, by the way. I am honored to have had you ride in the event. Thanks!!