Monday, May 07, 2018

Trans Iowa v14: Left On 120th

Chunky, loose, dusty gravel plagued riders all day at T.I.v14 Image by Jon Duke
Trans Iowa is not just a long distance ride with timed sections one must reach. It is a lot more than that. To me, one of the facets that figures into the Trans Iowa experience is navigation. Decision making also is of utmost importance in this event as well. So, it is a mental challenge on top of the rest of it. I've always paid attention to this aspect of the event.

Well, one thing presented itself with regard to this course which I found particularly delicious. A mental snag which, if the rider was paying attention to the cue sheets, would be navigated through with no issues. I've been laser focused on having exact cues to follow since T.I.v7, and I know without a doubt that Trans Iowa cues are some of the best written in the business. So, the cues were correct at the spot that threw a wrench into many rider's day. Despite what some may have thought later......

Without getting into a detailed and boring dissection of the situation, suffice it to say that the "Left on 120th" was a pitfall many fell into Saturday. The cues read that you needed to "BR On Keokuk/Washington Rd." before you turned left on 120th. Because there were TWO LEFTS one could make on 120th, one which occurred BEFORE you bore right on Keokuk/Washington Road. That cue- BR On Keokuk/Washington Rd.- was of paramount importance. The mileages were spot on for these as well. So, if you did make the mistake of taking the first left, you ended up a mile down the road at a strange intersection. Now.....most riders figured the conundrum out at this point. They went back, found the correct left on 120th, and were good to go. But a few did not.....

Kimberly Breuer (41) and Jeremy Fry on there way to Checkpoint #2 Image by Jon Duke
Before I get to that though there was more hang out time to tell you about! Tony, realizing that the whole 120th deal was probably going to trip a few folks up, found a place to park for a time which was just down from the intersection in question at the English River Wildlife Preserve. Anyone who figured it out, either eventually or right away, would go right by us. The four of us relaxed in the afternoon Sun, drinking a few cold ones, sharing stories, and just having a great time. Suddenly the phone lit up and it was Luke again. He was asking about the cues for, know where. I chose my words carefully, because the question was whether the cue sheet was wrong. I asked Luke if he could verify that his cues said "bear right on...." and he said that it was there. I told him to think if he had done that, and then the light bulb went off. We hung up and not much later, there went Luke. Next up should have been the three chasers, but after over an hour went by, here came Mathew Kutilek. Hmm.... Time to spring into action.

Headed out to CP#2 in search of the three chasers. That's Mathew Kutilek up ahead.

Tony and Mike went straight to CP#2, but MG and I followed the route. We passed Mathew again, but no one else was found up the road. We reached CP#2 to learn that Wilson and Gleason, Tomasello, and Zitz had went through. Apparently, the chasers were now only eight minutes behind Wilson. 

Get the picture?

In search of the three outlaws.
We didn't stick around to enjoy the scene at CP#2, unfortunately, because it looked like a lot of fun. There was a small fire going, beer, people having a good time, and all that. Unfortunately I had to address a situation that I had rather not have had to address. Three riders cut the course. So, MG and I headed out. Tony and Mike were already way ahead of us looking for the three miscreants.

Level B Road just out of CP#2

This wasn't the first time something like this happened, but it was a long time ago since the last time I was aware that it had. In fact, you have to go all the way back to T.I.v1 for that incident.

Back then, there was no one else out on the course but me. I was at the end of my rope, since, you know, staying up all night wasn't in my tool box at the time. I was having a really hard time at a "checkpoint" I set up just on the north side of Cresco, Iowa.

I was supposed to watch for the riders as they came through and warn the finish line volunteer for the Decorah Time Trials, whose finish line we were sharing. I saw Alex Dolpp go by, who was the leader, but when the finish was tallied up, Ira Ryan was first with Brian Hannon second and Alex Dolpp ended up third. What? Did I fall asleep and miss Hannon and Ryan? Well, about six months later I found Ira Ryan's race report and it became apparent that after getting off course in the middle of the night, Hannon and Ryan cut the course to get back on track, effectively leap frogging Dolpp in the process.

But it was what it was. If you cannot call the foul during the game, it is too late.

This time it wasn't too late. We knew Gleason, Zitz, and Tomasello hadn't suddenly put on the afterburners and made up an hour on Wilson. We also knew that they had not passed by the spot where we were watching. We couldn't watch every rider, but we were watching when the three riders that didn't go by us should have gone by us. There was nothing we could do but to confront them on the road and tell them they were DQ'ed.

After having been DQ'ed, Tomasello, Zitz, and Gleason ride off into the night.
Tony and Mike caught up with the three first. They broke the news. We came up just a bit later on the three and Tony and Mike on a hill Southeast of Montezuma. The three riders took the news about as well as you could, I guess. Walter was determined to ride out the course, and asked if that was okay. I affirmed him it was, he wasn't going to be scored though. He shrugged and turned up the road to the West. Tomasello followed, but I don't know that he actually rode the entire course, as Walter did. I saw Stefano at the finish line and we chatted though. Gleason disappeared. I never saw him again the rest of the weekend.

The Sun sets on Saturday of Trans Iowa v14.
I felt sad. Sad that this happened, but I didn't place any blame. None of us did. What actually happened amongst those three riders which precipitated the decision they made is only a story they know. I'm not really interested in the full story, to be honest. It is what it is.

We still had an event happening and after this situation was dealt with we were left with a single rider with over an hour lead on then second place Mathew Kutilek. But there was 100 plus miles to go, a night and a morning of riding ahead, and anything could happen.

Next: The Cold, Lonely Call Of The Owl


Kelly&Ted said...

If your goals are to run a barkley marathon style event, congrats you succeeded. If your goal is to have an actual bike race, try again. If that many people were as confused as you say, you have failed.

Guitar Ted said...

&Kelly&Ted- Whatever dude. I take "fail" from you as a high compliment.

Derek said...

Totally disagree w/other comment. This was fair and square. As a participant on the course (an hour plus behind these guys), riding solo at that point, I hit that intersection and did a double take. I stopped, took a minute to think about it and study the queues. I grabbed a snack, realized what was going on and I KNEW I hadn't done the BR (bear right) yet. I checked the mileage and told myself that GT's queues are always on. On I went and in a few miles, it all lined up as marked. On I continued to a legal finish. Thanks, Guitar Ted, for an awesome final TI!

Skidmark said...

What was the early/alternate name for GravelWorlds, before it was even called a race? That was the name I voted for.

Ben M said...

My group and I added two miles to our ride because we missed the BR. I actually just initially assumed I had zoned out the BR and went with what I saw on the sign. We compounded our mistake when we got a mile up the road and found 328th instead of 338th. Hmm... must have been a typo on the cue sheet right? So we took off down 328th for a while before really letting it sink in that things really weren't lining up anymore.

We eventually got it figured out, turned around, retraced our course, and got back on track. Unfortunately it ended a few of our days as the push to make the cut-off took too much out of a couple of us and a couple of us missed the cut-off all together.

Like it or not, navigation is very much a part of this race. As is nutrition, bike setup, equipment choices, etc. If we defined the race as simply who was fittest, we could all just submit our FTP and stay home. There are plenty of other races out there to choose from if this doesn't suit your fancy.

Mrtwinpipe said...

Never did TI but the best part is Qs vs gps ,you pay attention you succeed if you don’t you fail , that fact that the winner figured it out and 2 past winners didn’t shows under pressure even favorites can crack ,Delicious!

Nooge said...

Kelly & Ted the rules of TI were very clearly spelled out. Part of the challenge of the race is navigation. If you don't like it then don't race it and don't complain. There are many races that do things differently for you to choose from. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it wrong. I wish more people would remember that in all aspects of life.