Monday, September 21, 2020

It Still Inspires


A rough idea of the TIMP route as marked out by Scott Sumpter.

Something amazing happened last week concerning a cross-state trip via bicycle on a route I devised. This post is about that and my reaction to it. But first, some context.....

The year was 2013, and I was looking at my tenth running of Trans Iowa, the ultra-endurance event that Jeff Kerkove and I first put on in 2005. There had been some chatter on social media about having Trans Iowa be a point-to-point event again sometime in the future. We abandoned the point-to-point format for the third running of the event in 2007. So, there may have been some romantic, idealized thoughts running through people's heads about 'the old Trans Iowa', or it may have been the odd appeal of cross-state events. I mean, anything point to point seems to rouse folk's interests to unbelievable levels. Something about the linear routes does this over loops, and especially laps. The mileage could be identical and yet folks would almost always gravitate to the point-to-point thing. I never really understood the appeal of that. But the appeal was, and still is, undeniable. 

So, instead of setting up a full-on Trans Iowa in a point-to-point format, I set up a companion event to be run over the Summer months of 2014. I got the idea from a Canadian challenge called Operacion Muerto. I took their idea and modified it to my liking. The idea I had was to make it like an academic challenge. I broke up the course into two halves or 'semesters' with the stipulations that the event had to be documented and a report, or 'master's thesis' had to be filed with me upon completion in order to be scored officially as a finisher and to receive your 'diploma' as a Trans Iowa Master. The event was dubbed by me as being the "Trans Iowa Masters Program", or "TIMP", for short. 

Ironically, Kerkove and I discovered dead pigs on the old T.I. 1 route too.
Well, I ran this as a 'one-and-done' as a way to recognize the old Trans Iowa courses and to give those that wanted the point-to-point format something to chew on. I didn't expect much interest, and there was not much interest in that idea at all. As usual, folks say they think an idea is rad, but when push comes to shove? Uh huh.  Only seven people made it, and only a handful of others tried it and failed. I did offer the cues for the same time period as the event ran to anyone to download. But not much came of that either. Yeah, that's what I figured........ And that was the end of that, or so I thought. 

The TIMP was a fun idea at the time and those that tried it seemed to appreciate the route. Several interesting stories came out of the TIMP. The difficulty of doing the event during the heat of Summer, dealing with rain, and the terrain variances from West to East.  One of the oddest occurrences from the running of the TIMP was the discovery of dead pigs on the route by the Jenkins, Patty, and Scotton group. Ironically, Jeff Kerkove and I also came across dead pigs during our initial recon of the first Trans Iowa in the same area. 

Of all of the attempts, only one successful solo, straight through 'time trial' was completed and that was by Greg Gleason. He did this mere days before the official end of the challenge as well, so the TIMP went out on a high note. I compiled the reports, and left the old site to ignominy in the depths of the digital haze. I figured no one would ever bring the subject of this route up again, much less do the thing. 

To my surprise, over six years later I find out that a Trans Iowa v1 rider and two-time finisher of the event, Robert Fry, (who also was a very important volunteer as well), was going to do this TIMP route. He down loaded the cues when I offered them back then, in 2014, and just waited for an opportune time to take advantage of the resource. Obviously, no one is beholden to any certain way of accomplishing the feat anymore, as Robert knew full well. He did the 377 mile route solo, self-supported in three days, just last week. Quite an achievement at any rate, and well done! 

But my amazement was more in the fact that anyone would care to even do that route anymore. Of course, Robert, having tried and failed at the first Trans Iowa, maybe had an axe to grind yet. But even so, that's pretty amazing to me that anyone would even give consideration to doing that TIMP route. Congratulations, Robert Fry! I was surprised and, to be honest, honored to have you do the route after all this time has past. Thank you. 

And before you ask- No. I do not have the cues, nor would I give them away anymore even if I did have them.  


Exhausted_Auk said...

Wow, thank you for the mention, Mark! I never expected my ride to be the subject of one of your posts. Truly a great route, and thank you so much for offering it. It's unfortunate that it took me so long before giving it a go, but I am very glad I did.

Ari said...

Congratulations Robert! A true, stubborn TI rider. Proud of you.