Monday, May 11, 2009

T.I.V5: Last Thoughts Before I Go

<===The gravel dust of T.I.V5 will be with me for a long time, but this is my last post about it.

Here are some random thoughts as I leave T.I.V5 in the rear view mirror.

That wasn't so bad now was it? To say things went smoothly is an understatement. We had some bobbles, to be sure, but they were very minor. Nothing that remotely affected the outcome of the event, and so were very minor concerns.

The dogleg issue. We will have to pay more attention to what will be seen in the dark now. Things get weird in the night, and maybe we could improve upon some things in this area.

Outside support was happening. I wasn't too pleased about it, but it came in a form I had not considered before and hasn't been addressed in a fair manner to racers before, so I withheld any judgements during the event. More on this in a bit.

That was about it from a critically important viewpoint. There's more, but it is mere fluff in comparison.

The social side: Here's where we felt this T.I. suffered a bit. The venue where we started was not conducive to larger public gatherings without spending money for spaces. Then other restrictions applied that wouldn't cater to our type of folks either. It was just a difficult situation. To be honest, the pre-race meeting was figured out only within a mere couple of weeks before the event took place. That's cutting it too close, but that wasn't for lack of trying. There just were not many options there. We won't even delve into anything post race! We are going to move the event, and one of the priorities for locating the event in 2010 will be in regards to pre and post race activities and where they can be held cheaply.

Trans Iowa Radio: Ya know.......This is just a bonus dealio I do. I sent out a disclaimer on, my site, and the T.I. site prior to T.I.V5 saying as much, yet certain folks bagged on me afterwards for doing things all wrong, or were being disappointed, (once again) that I didn't mention their folks and that the posts were not coming up with audio. So, I see where this is going. I have to either make this a professional news casting/tracking/social media deal.......or I quit doing anything at all. You know- if you've been around Trans Iowa enough- that I don't like adding extra work. So you might be able to figure out what happens next time. Trans Iowa Radio isn't necessary. It isn't integral to the event. It doesn't seem to enhance my experience of it, and again- if I don't have fun, it gets axed. (I "pay" for Trans Iowa, so I get what I want) Sound selfish? Well, then you just don't get it. If I was charging $250.00 entry fee per person for this, then the tables would be turned. I may change my mind, if it can be done easily and in a fun way. If not, so be it.

The Date: I liked the date falling two weeks after Sea Otter. I had to go to cover that event. If I didn't have to, I'd maybe go back to the last weekend in April. Had we done that this year, we wouldn't have had the event. Five and a half inches of rain and severe lightning will shut you down. But I can't control that weather thing, so I can't worry about that. The date will be in discussion with d.p. and I and other promoters, most importantly, the DK 200 folks. We want to space out the dates so folks can consider doing both events. Plus I may not be going to Sea Otter next year. We'll see.

Technology: The issue of technology used for and during Trans Iowa has come up. Mostly in reference to GPS units. I am not very concerned about the GPS thing since our cues are vague enough and road names are often repeated enough from county to county that doing anything in a timely manner with a GPS that might aid you in navigation is going to be difficult, if not near impossible. d.p. brought up a great point that screen size is so small that trying to read the screen while riding is not only difficult to do, but dangerous as well. So, GPS units, be they Garmin-type, stand alone units, or part of a cell phone app, are going to not only be hard to keep off the route of future Trans Iowas, but in reality also be nearly useless. That said, they still are against the rules!

No, my concern about technology isn't so much the GPS unit, but rather the cell phone. Let's take a look at this nuggett from Charlie Farrow's T.I.V5 race report (Found on his blog) as an introduction to where I am coming from.

"Note: In this era where a spontaneous life-line communicative capacity is available to anyone anywhere, this dogmatic approach to autonomy may seem rigid to some or antiquated to others; to me itz just the way I was raised and I am sure that I like it better than the new way, so I don’t plan on changing…"

So, Charlie isn't a believer in using the cell phone from a self sufficiency standpoint, regarding its use as somewhat of a diluting influence upon the experience of tackling a challenge like Trans Iowa. Maybe he casts caution to the wind, and doesn't carry a cell phone at all, preferring to take the risks involved should he get injured, or seriously hurt, I don't know, and I am not saying you should not carry a cell phone either. No, I want to focus upon the idea that a "life-line" of support is being established by some riders and that concerns me.

I witnessed this from several points along the course of Trans Iowa. People were off and on their cell phones talking to the person on the other end into going on, to keep pushing, and to not give in. I don't know about you, but a clear headed cheerleader on the cell talking into my ear is support and a help in finishing the event. Outside support. Period.

I know this is outside support because of what competitors write year in and year out in regards to riding with others in the event along the route. Mentally this support is huge. Ask them. I am not making this up. The people suffering in the event together is one thing, but having some one available at anytime that isn't a rider, that is entirely different. So if another rider is a support mentally to a rider in the event, (and that by pure chance) then what is a person on the cell that is talking to a competitor at various intervals, at any time one desires, throughout the event? You tell me.

This may sound harsh, but this is my gut feeling. If you had this cell phone "life-line" going on during T.I.V5, then you did the route with outside support. The people that accepted that support will have to live with that thought. Folks like Charlie Farrow will not. You decide which way is "right".

That said, I don't know what can be done about it, if anything, other than to say that this sort of thing better not be happening in my prescence next year or there will be DQ's. I don't like to have to say that, but I know that some will do anything to finish this silly event, and others will abide by the spirit of the event without admonishments from me. I want to support those folks in the latter group. Those that choose the harder road.

To this end I think we may consider changing up the way we do checkpoints as well. At least we will not be freely giving out checkpoint locations, that's for sure. It creates an unfair playing field for those who can not, or do not have the possibility of getting folks they know to checkpoints. I'm not sure how this may play out. Maybe having checkpoints in remote locations will be what we'll have to do.

Whatever happens, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

T.I.V6: It will happen, it won't be anywhere near the same location it was this year, and it will be tweaked in a few ways compared to the previous years. We were really encouraged by the outpouring of thanks immediately after the event. We were super encouraged to forge ahead and do another one. That said, Trans Iowa will not happen forever, and an astute observation to this very point was made by Charlie Farrow. Again from his T.I.V5 race report:

"My message to all those that did not finish, for what itz worth, is to go for it again next year, but with an eye on using all that is given to you. One reason to make another attempt next year stems from the simple fact that guyz like Guitar-Ted and D.P. are a rare treasure to the cycling community and consequently, certainly, it would be unfair to simply assume that they will indefinitely be willing or even capable of providing us with this truly novel cycling experience year after year."

So, I do not know when that day will come that I will say, "No mas!", but rest assured that it will. I do know that I have treasured the experiences and people along the way so far. I expect that I will be adding to that treasure in the near future. I want to say THANK YOU to all that have contributed to my Trans Iowa experience. I can't ever thank you all , or thank you all enough.

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