Thursday, April 04, 2019

C.O.G 100 Event Report: So, What Was That Like?

Hanging out waiting on riders to pass at the C.O.G 100
This final post labeled "C.O.G. 100 Event Report" isn't so much about the C.O.G. 100, but this is a post which addresses a question asked of me several times over the past weekend and from a few others previously. My intention is to elaborate further here than I had time to this weekend. Maybe others have wondered as well. So, this might be for you also.

The question goes something along the lines of how this recent event compares with putting on a Trans Iowa. What is that like? Where is my head at with the C.O.G. 100? What is the future for me and gravel event promotion?

First of all, if you have never read "Reaching The End", which is my announcement of the retiring of the Trans Iowa event, then you should click that link and read it. Maybe you read it and would like to refresh your memory. There will be references to what I wrote there made here.

Okay, so all along I guess N.Y. Roll had in his head that he wanted to make some sort of an attempt at a gravel event. He had been running ideas past me off and on for months. To be honest, I had no dog in the race. I was not at all interested in making another event to become involved in. But, one afternoon over beers at his place, I struck on an idea that I thought would be cool. A single speed only gravel event. Short- for me- at 100 miles. N.Y. Roll was in as far as the logistics of registration, insurance, and what not. I would do what I do best.

So, why do this besides the fact that I thought the idea was cool? Well, I also wanted to see what having insurance would be like. Does that have an effect on the mentality of myself and the event participants? Charging a fee to cover that insurance was the initial goal. How would that affect things? Also, and finally, what would it be like to do a shorter event? These are the things that got me motivated to get involved in doing the C.O.G. 100.

We saw this rad beagle out on the C.O.G. 100 course Saturday.
Maybe that seems weird to you, but after 14 years of doing Trans Iowa I had seen almost everything and experienced a LOT of stuff. Minutiae like insurance, charging a fee, and all that are things I hadn't been involved with since T.I.v2, and quite frankly, I cannot really remember what that was like at all. Jeff Kerkove had that covered and I didn't even have a clue as to what it was about.

Anyway, in the end, none of that made any difference. None. I was nonplussed by any of that. However; one thing did happen, and it caught me off guard. This happened after all of the course finding, cue sheet stuff, and all the regular communications things I did.  All of those aforementioned things were far, far easier than what it was for a Trans Iowa. But it wasn't any of that which made me pause and take stock. In fact, if it weren't for this detail, and the C.O.G. 100 in general, I think I may have missed the number one thing I won't be missing come the last weekend of April.

I had not been involved in the registration process at all this time. N.Y. Roll was hands on with that facet of the C.O.G. 100. He kept me up to date as to the numbers of folks coming, but who was coming was a complete mystery to me until about a week and a half before the event. I was making final preparations for the event and I wanted to make a roster sheet for check-in, scoring, and whatnot. So, N.Y. Roll sent me a PDF of the roster. I got to work writing down the names, and as I did, things "got real" for me. These were the people coming to the C.O.G. 100.

Now, this is where what I wrote in my goodbye to T.I. post comes in. I had always had a very great, overwhelming concern for the riders of Trans Iowa. It was a very heavy burden, and now, suddenly, after seeing the names on the roster, here it was again. That same familiar burden. I know event directors that "get it" and totally know what I am talking about here. I would suggest that if you have never hosted an event like a cycling event that it will be very hard for you to empathize with how I felt. I have a difficult time putting it into words, but I have seen "it" in the eyes of fellow gravel promoters. Anyway..... I won't miss that feeling come late April! 

Scott Sumpter walking the 330th Ave. Level B Road last weekend. Image by Jon Duke
 In fact, I won't miss how I felt every year for 14 years during the months of March, April, and half of May. The terror of that burden is still very fresh in my mind. The stress, the worry, and all the nights laying awake in my bed, I won't miss that one little bit. The C.O.G. 100 roster reminded me of that.

I won't miss the downward spiral post-Trans Iowa. I had some emotionally dark times after several Trans Iowas. I had low energy, no motivation, and many days were a complete struggle to get through until I recovered and felt "normal" again. I always did recover, but maybe someday....... At any rate, I didn't want to consider that.

Even the little bit of what the C.O.G. 100 was is not without its stress and burden, but it wasn't as overwhelming as Trans Iowa was. Of course, there were a LOT of great things I loved about T.I., but after 14 years, no mas! Besides the family concerns, which I talked about in the linked post, all that stress was just too much to bear again.

So, the C.O.G. 100. Will it happen again? Likely. Yes. Stay tuned..... But, I am getting on in age and I've paid my dues. I don't have anything to prove, and the C.O.G. 100 won't last as long, with me involved anyway, as Trans Iowa. Not by a long shot. I may transfer my part to another, or others, or it may end. Who knows? N.Y. Roll will have to decide what he wants to do, but for now we're batting about the idea of doing at least one more.

Any more questions? I'd be glad to answer them. Hit me with an email or comment in the comment section. Thanks for reading the C.O.G. 100 stuff. I hadn't intended it to be a four day deal, but there ya go.....


S.Fuller said...


I was surprised to see you get involved with another spring event, but I was also glad to see you had an eager partner in NY Roll. Knowing him, it was my belief that you could have a (mostly) stress free event, and be closely involved with the things that really needed your attention. It is easy, sometimes too easy, to become concerned about the people at your event, but if you weren't concerned, you wouldn't be human.

Thank you for continuing to give of your time and self to the rest of the community. Hoping to see you at at least one more COG and to share many social miles with you in the future. :)

Derek said...

So glad to read this post, Mark! First, that it is more enjoyable and less stressful for you. Second, that there may be another round in the future. Fingers crossed! I wanted to be there this year, but couldn't--so I've been observing closely from afar. The photos are a blast from the past, both with elements of TI and for some family/sentimental reasons. Trans Iowa was huge for me personally, and I only attended 2 of them! (13 and 14). Here's hoping that you, C.O.G., and new and old friends can connect next year. Thanks for all that you do.

Big D Shadravan said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. For whatever my vote is worth, C.O.G. should be an annual event. I think the idea of a singlespeed-only Iowa event of this distance is a great niche, and worth keeping the race going into the future. You'll see my name on the roster again next year for sure.

One idea I was thinking about is using a Facebook page/group for us C.O.G. "veterans" to provide informal advice/mentoring for riders who are coming as first-timers next year. The opportunity to share some lessons learned I think would be a fun way to build a community vibe around the event leading up to the race. Just an idea...


Guitar Ted said...

@Big D Shadravan- That's not a bad idea- for Facebook. For what it was worth, there was a thread of that nature on the site in the forum. But, yeah, Facebook would probably be a bit more accessible.

Thanks again for coming out this year. I am still blown away by the response and numbers of folks that thought this was a cool idea.

@ Derek, @S Fuller- Thanks guys. I appreciate you comments too.