Sunday, August 11, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Tales Of v2 Part 1

On a solo recon of the T.I.v2 course west of Hawarden
 "Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

Trans Iowa v2. The mere mention of this event evokes shudders and images of suffering and pain which are vivid even a decade plus after the event. (So I am told by those who were in the event) This was the Trans Iowa which set up this event as one having legendary status. But before we get to the muddy details of that weekend, we need to go back to the very beginnings of Trans Iowa.

Remember when I posted about meeting Richard "Deke" Gosen at the beginning and his question to us? That question was,"What if no one finishes? Are you prepared for that?". But there were others that day which I did not write about, and haven't for years. Mr. Gosen had another question dealing with our policies concerning weather and the running of Trans Iowa. He asked us if we were willing to run this challenge despite weather by saying, "What if it rains? Snows, or hails?"

We affirmed him that weather wasn't going to stop this deal, and he was pleased with our resolve to not shrink to the wills of those who wouldn't want to ride in inclement weather. With that thought firmly affixed into Trans Iowa's DNA, we forged ahead. The "true test" of our resolve did not come until T.I.v2 though.

Of course, we needed to have the event in order ahead of the date. Jeff had started negotiating with Ergon by the Winter of '05/'06. So, with Jeff's busy schedule, the recon, route finding, and much of being the "face" of the event on the Endurance thread on became my responsibility. Jeff still handled the sponsors and house finding for participants. He also facilitated the online registration for T.I.v2, which as far as I can find was $30.00, a ten dollar increase over the 2005 entry fee.

A Level B road near Britt, Iowa that was to be in Trans Iowa v2. No one got this far though.
Recon was a tedious task. I could only manage to get about 1/3rd of it done at a crack due to the distances involved in just getting up to the course. We had decided to run a completely different course this time to keep the navigation factor in the event. More detailed course notes were kept during recon, which made the going slow, to facilitate this. I did all the initial recon solo and Jeff came along for a "drive through" of the course in February of 2006.

At the behest of Mike Curiak, I included many more of the Level B Maintenance roads into the course. In fact, on the western end, I had 14 or 15 miles, sometimes two and three miles at a crack. Eastern Iowa had few, if any, Level B roads, so I figured on packing in as many as possible in the front half of T.I.v2. This became a big mistake, as we shall learn later. The T.I.v2 course actually only had about 4 miles of dirt road in it after the Algona checkpoint!

There was some banter about a "return bus" from Decorah before v1, but this talk amped way up afterward for v2. People were asking Jeff and I to charter a bus, or get an old school bus rounded up to haul riders and gear back across the state. Neither Jeff or I were into any of this talk. First of all, it would cost us a LOT of money, and we were "shop rats" on a basic pay schedule with ZERO benefits. We already were spending far too much on this as it was, and making entry fees higher to recover any costs was not where we wanted to go with Trans Iowa. Secondly, neither one of us had a CDL to drive a bus anyway. In the end, one of the T.I. pioneers, Ward Budweg, arranged for something, but it turned out not to be necessary. This was also a factor in forcing us to adopt a loop course format.

Finally, all along we were getting other "suggestions" on how we were supposed to run this event. Most were suggestions which were things that would make the event easier. Of course, Jeff and I rejected all of those suggestions out of hand. We had to make the "maybe this event isn't for you" statement several times, and then it kind of dawned on me back then what we had and what people thought we were doing. They were two different things.

What we were presenting was something maybe a bit new. A challenge more than a "race" proper. It wasn't about age groups, men, women, or who won anything as much as it was about seeing what you could do. What was possible? How far could you push yourself, and your equipment, and how well could you make critical decisions along the way. This wasn't about anything else other than each person's own goals and possibilities. That said, it was also about being very careful about whether one should take this big step.

This was also about my own journey as a person who could figure out an event, how to run it, and how to set it up. Jeff helped a ton with this in the very beginning, but as T.I.v2 drew closer, it was evident that it may not last. Trans Iowa may only be a two event deal. I just couldn't see running it without Jeff at that point. I relied on Jeff so much that I didn't see that I could run the event without him, although I think at the time Jeff was cunningly setting me up for just such a thing.

We were coming back from a Frostbike trip when we crossed the Minnesota/Iowa border. The sign welcoming us to Iowa was there and Jeff said, "Maybe someday it will say, 'The Home of Trans Iowa'". I laughed, but that moment stuck with me. I was feeling Jeff was leaving to go somewhere else in life, yet he was saying Trans Iowa might last until it became famous? I couldn't figure it out, even then. But while the state line sign never did say that, the event would go on to become a much bigger deal than I ever dreamed.

Next: Tales Of v2 Part 2

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