Saturday, September 28, 2013

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #4

In mid-November, the idea of Trans Iowa was hatched. The year was 2004. In the ten years since then there have been many stories and memories. These posts will tell of the most prominent ones to my mind. Maybe I'll even spill the beans on some things you never knew....

Should this man have won the first Trans Iowa?
 One more story from the first Trans Iowa before I move on.....

That first event was a real education for both Jeff and I. Probably more so for me than anyone else. Our plan going in was that Jeff would actually ride the event. He was doing loads of "double secret" training, logging centuries and 150 milers in the night getting ready to put the hurt on the field of riders. I think it was a point of pride for Jeff. He had all these heavy-hitters coming from the endurance community to his home state, and he wanted to put on a show.

Well, that didn't pan out very well, since that heavy wind sucked the life out of him and many other riders. I watched as all the carnage went down in Algona and only a handful of riders made it out of town a little before six in the evening. Jeff's parents stayed behind in Algona to tally the riders staying in the event or dropping out. Now I was all on my own, going forth into the night to finish up putting on this beast of an event.

Of course, early on it wasn't very tough. I made my way past the few riders headed toward Forest City and then I hit Pilot Knob State Park, where we were to have the riders go down about a mile long, heavily pock marked bridleway. None of this was marked, and I had never been on it, nor laid eyes on it till the very moment I arrived with my flags and course tape. Things just got a whole lot tougher!

The Red Bull tent just about didn't survive the wind!
I had to run the entire length of the bridleway and back again, deciding on where to place flags and tape. I scrabbled around there for about an hour and a half before I finally said, "good enough" and jetted out in the shop van to check on the roads further up the course. It was dark by now, and I was all alone on the country roads.

Behind me, chaos broke out at Pilot Knob. Riders were confused as to where to go to enter the bridleway, the tape and flags were hard to see in the dark, I guess. However; several onlookers who had figured out where the course was going were on hand and those familiar with the park were directing riders to pass through on the park roads. Not what we intended, but since there were no "course marshals" what were we to have done? Live and learn lesson #1.

Now the wind died out to nothing, the stars shone in the velvety black vault above, and a moon rose up shining brightly. The temperatures dove down to the freezing mark. It was a cold, raw night. I had reconned the route to a little town called Lourdes on Highway 63 when I decided to park for a while and risk a bit of a nap. I was waaay ahead of any riders, so I figured it would be okay. I slept in five or ten minute fits and then would wake up, afraid that I was going to miss someone coming down the road. It was past 2am in the morning by now. I would see flickering lights, think they were riders, stare for ten minutes, and then realize it was a farmers yard light. Then I would repeat the process five minutes later, staring at the same light, swearing I just saw it move!

The famous "podium shot". L-R: Hannon, Ryan, Dolpp
I decided I better move on. I took the roads at 20mph or slower. I was so out of it, I didn't trust my reactions. I made it finally up to Cresco, where the route would pass through. It was the last town out before the finish 40 miles later in Decorah.

The plan was that I was to call a volunteer for the Decorah Time Trials to let them know who and how many were headed their way. Our finish line was the same as the time trials, which was to get underway later that morning. I parked just out of town on the North side of Cresco, parked the van well off the road, and walked to and fro, shivering in the now sub-freezing temperatures at about 4:00am in the morning.

I was beside myself with chills and I needed to hop into the van to warm up. I hit the motor and turned the heater on high, all the while trying to keep an eye out for any signs of a rider. I ended up dozing off for a second.......or was it longer? I was sure it was a head bob and nothing more. I jumped out of the van and into the chilling night air to awake my tired body and mind.

Just then I saw a bobbing, bluish-white set of lights. A rider! The first I would see since leaving Algona hours before. It was Alex Dolpp. I could tell by his brightly colored kit and the Specialized mountain bike he was riding. Wow! He had been in the lead out of Algona and still was leading! (Or was he?) I watched as the Sun began to brighten the Eastern sky and finally crest the hills towards Decorah. I saw six more riders go by. I called in my results as riders were spotted.

Suddenly my cell sprang to life. It was a volunteer in Decorah who said that he had three riders in, two of which I had not notified him of! It seems that Ira Ryan and Brian Hannon had come in ahead of Dolpp. How did that happen?! It must have been when I fell asleep for a moment! I was ticked off at my lapse of consciousness and felt horrible about that. Jeff and his Dad eventually relieved me of my duties and we went and had a bite to eat for breakfast.

Ira Ryan, (in front here), early in T.I.V1
Ira Ryan won Trans Iowa V1, we went about our lives, and things about T.I.V1 were put to rest. All but that lapse of responsibility I had. It ate away at me in the  following months, and even the Decorah Time Trial folks gave me a heated e-mail and phone call about our "negligence" in tracking the riders.

So it was as I was perusing Ira Ryans custom frame site months after Trans Iowa had finished and I accidentally clicked the mouse over an image on his front page. It led me to an "Easter egg" of sorts- Ryan's Trans Iowa story! I had never read it, or even knew it existed. In it, he told of the later hours on Saturday evening. He and Brian Hannon were riding together behind Alex Dolpp. It told of when they lost sight of his tail light and apparently made a wrong turn, or went straight and missed a turn. Then they came across some drunks in a car who led them to a near by county blacktop where Ryan and Hannon cut the course before eventually getting back on East of Cresco, essentially leap frogging me and Alex Dolpp in the process!

Well, well! Now I knew I had not missed Ryan and Hannon going by me because they never did! I felt justified, but as this discovery happened about six months past the ending of Trans Iowa, there was nothing anyone could do. Ira Ryan won Trans Iowa partially because of our ineptness in putting the event on and due to a decision made in the heat of the moment by he and Hannon that led to their getting ahead of Dolpp.

I decided to just keep my mouth shut back then and let it roll. But it is one of those stories that I feel is a good one to tell now. Obviously, this all set into motion many changes in the way we were going to put on V2, and I'll move on to that event next week.


Unknown said...

Why did Dolpp not protest that he had not been passed by Ryan? Sounds that he still should get the win.

Guitar Ted said...

@Unknown: Confusion, the laid back nature of the event, just being able to actually finish. Probably all of that. Remember, only nine guys finished and a lot of the DNF's were big names in endurance racing at the time. I think that truth be known, Alex and the others all felt glad to have just conquered that edition of Trans Iowa.

Finally, there was no prizes, purse, or anyway of verifying the course had been followed correctly then. It was what it was.

I'd like to think things have improved massively since then.

Unknown said...

Sooooo.....bottom line is that Alex won this event, correct? Seems strange to me that this fella Ira still gets credit for it, no? For somebody that seems so, uh, retentive about having riders follow the rules of this race, it would seem logical to me that you would correct this issue.

Alex won this race. Seems pretty simple to me.

alexdolpp said...

Alex here... Thanks for these insights and no worries. I survived TI V1 and it's still the race I tell people about.

Remember leaving the midway point first, flatting, being passed, passing the leaders again while they were in a fast food joint where I refilled bottles. Shortly after I left they chased and I saw their light behind out of town, then I turned off my taillight... Hoping the'd think they got dropped by me. Didn't see them till long after that. I stopped at a gas station around 1 am, where I thought they passed me. Afterwards I saw tire tracks in the gravel, then they disappeared... Maybe just because the surface then didn't allow tracks (frozen roads, just like my hands? Dang it got cold!) Just when the sun came up I ran into Ira and Brian at an intersection and we rode together for a while. There was one longer climb out of some sort of a valley where I let them go... 22 hours or so into a race I didn't want to blow up and rather maintain my own pace.

All of a sudden a finish line and it was over. 3rd - sweet. But first finisher on a mountain bike. That'll be the story I'll keep on telling!

Guitar Ted said...

@Josh Bennett: Thanks for your comments and concern, but no- You got it wrong. Like I said in the post, Ira won, (and a LOT of other things happened) due to our ineptness, decisions made by others, and just plain circumstances.

You seem to be equating the person and event as it is today to what it was then- ten years ago. You cannot do that. Like I have said, (if you've been reading along), I learned A LOT from this race. (Which should tell you I was not the person I am today, nor did I know what to do then, as I do now)

Plus, you can read Alex's take here from his comments....

Make sense?

Had Trans Iowa been run then as it is now, there would have been a completely different story told. That wasn't the case.

All that said- Ira Ryan is the winner of Trans Iowa V1. Period.

Guitar Ted said...

@Alex: Hey! It is so good to have your insight on the event here. I appreciate your effort to clear up the happenings around the end of Trans Iowa V1. Another piece of the puzzle 10 years down the road!

Glad to hear that your accomplishment means so much to you, and thanks for being a huge part of Trans Iowa history.

Take Care!

Unknown said...

Well, you sure have a funny way of declaring a winner. Just going by what you wrote. But I'll leave it there.

And when I ride with Alex later this week, we'll hoist a beer for his "third" place finish.

Nice work, Alex!!

Unknown said...

I' m reading my comments above and noticing how silly (probably putting it nicely) I look arguing about something I had no part in....that happened many years ago.

So, that said, my apologies. You do put quite a bit of time and energy into this event, so it's foolish of me to even comment on its history.

Peace offering!

Guitar Ted said...

@Josh Bennett: Peace offering accepted.

Sounds like Alex has a good friend and riding partner. Enjoy the hoisting of brews and the good times and stories.

Ride On!

Todd Scott said...

I'm just glad those first three guys weren't on singlespeeds! :)

It was a great race. And like Alex, I love to talk about it -- or at least look at the old photos of Alex, Joe, Mike, and others before and after the race.

Todd Scott said...

By the way, it was 2005 rather than 2004, right? That's what the date on my photos show.

Guitar Ted said...

@Todd Scott: Hey- great to hear from you as well, Todd!

Yes- 2005 was the first event, but I started the remembrances now because there is a lot to tell over ten years, (which will be Nov. '04 from the inception of the idea), and this will lead up to the 10th anniversary Trans Iowa this coming Spring.

Thanks for the image gallery share. I had not seen those before.

Take care!

Joe Partridge said...

Wow, look at all the old names popping up! Great to hear from all of you, esp Alex and Todd. High percentage of Michigan-based riders among the finishers.

Guitar Ted said...

@ To Whom It May Concern - I am never sure why older posts like these pop up in my stats, but as of 3/9/20, this one has perked up for whatever reason. Which leads me to muse on an irony. The first Trans Iowa was notable- for many things- but especially for this story of the course cutting. The irony comes in because so was the last Trans Iowa. Notable for many things, but there was also a course cutting. The big difference being that after 13 events, I wasn't so naive as I was during v1. We caught those course cutters at v14, and they suffered the fate of their decision.

So, again- I was a greenhorn, a rank rookie, and knew nothing of the depth of detail and minutiae which it took to put on the Trans Iowa events the way they deserved to be put on when I did the first one.

But I eventually figured it out.

And so Ira Ryan won T.I.v1. Period.