Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Trans Iowa Masters Program Report

Greg Gleason- the only ITT finisher of TIMP
The Trans Iowa Masters Program is over. August 31st was the cut-off and amazingly enough, a last minute individual effort was recorded with less than five hours to go in the program.

But before I get to that, I want to rewind the clock a bit and give everyone an overview of the reasons for the TIMP in the first place and hopefully illustrate why it is a one time deal from my standpoint.

I have had occasional requests and comments that led me to believe there were some folks that would be interested in a cross-state version of Trans Iowa again. Let me state emphatically and forever......that ain't gonna happen ever again. 

The logistics on my end and expectations from participants would be too difficult to accomplish without some major changes in my life and in the formatting of the event. Having 50 people start out a ride across the state was one thing. Having potentially 120? That's on a level I cannot comprehend at this point. The infrastructure and manpower necessary to pull that off? Much more difficult than a "big assed loop". Not gonna go there!

So, I figured I would never be able to offer anything approaching the ideals that most riders would want to tackle. However; something happened in Canada that modified my views and caused the Trans Iowa Masters Program to take shape late last year. That was Operacion Muerto

TIMP Route- First Semester map courtesy of Scott Sumpter
I had a brain storm, (or fart, depending on your viewpoint!), and laid out a challenge based largely on the Operacion Muerto, but with an "academic" twist. Each participant would follow cues that would be divided into "Semesters" and Quarters" with a "Masters Thesis" due after the completed ride at which time I would issue a "Diploma" to individuals who finished the Program.

It was also done in an effort to help celebrate the early Trans Iowa efforts by Jeff Kerkove and myself. A "ten years of T.I." celebration and a way to allow for the old cross state T.I. routes to be ridden by those who cared to. In fact, a bit of T.I.V3 and V4 were also parts of the route, along with a totally new section which started just West of Highway 76 and ended in Lansing, Iowa, the original target finish town for Trans Iowa V1.

Oh.....I did add another new bit. Some of the route in Howard County was new. I routed the TIMP right by my family's original 1800's homestead. Just because. Not that anyone would have cared about that but myself, but there it is for "full disclosure". So, I had the route and everything laid out, a time period from May 31st till August 31st for ride attempts, and some rules and regulations in place for the deal. The beauty of it all from my point of view was that besides record keeping, publishing, and mailing out certificates, I didn't have a big investment into this like I do with a typical Trans Iowa event.

The route actually started at the border with South Dakota- Image by A Zeiner
Riders started whenever they wanted to from just outside of Hawarden Iowa on the border with South Dakota which is the Big Sioux River. They needed to GPS the route so I could verify it, and in fact, several used SPOT trackers so I just followed along to verify the route from home. They tracked across the old T.I.V1 and V2 routes to Central Iowa, and then into Northeast Iowa where some of the newer bits and V3 & V4 routes were employed. After finishing, a report was required with images for an official finish and a place on the TIMP Report blog, (seen here).

Conclusions: From my point of view the TIMP was a success. It was not a huge success in terms of numbers of attempts, but those that chose this path seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, even if they did not finish. Surprisingly, a large number of the attempts were by riders that had never attempted Trans Iowa before. In that sense, I feel good about providing the TIMP challenge since it affected people outside the traditional Trans Iowa sphere.

It was a success in that it showed that a traditional Trans Iowa is not immune from weather related issues if it is moved from its traditional Springtime date, as many have desired it to be, thinking they might avoid "terrible weather conditions". Obviously, by the results of several of the ITT attempts, weather in the Summer can be just as bad or worse for the possibilities of a finish.

So- You want to ride Trans Iowa in the Summer? Image courtesy of A. Brunner
It was also a success based upon the route, which was declared a challenging and scenic route by many of the riders. Interestingly- I have vivid memories of some of the route, even though many of the roads shown by the riders in their reports I have not seen for almost ten years. Then there are the roads which were new to the route, which I have never laid eyes on and were totally fresh and new to me. I'll have to get up there and ride that last 40 miles or so sometime!

The route was not without some faults- There was a rogue wire across a road near the end, albeit well marked, I was informed. There was a bridge approach out, but navigable by foot. Finally, there was a low water crossing that caused concerns, but wasn't a deal killer. There were a couple of instances of road work, but again, these did not block the route either.

The participants were great too. I was especially happy to see T.I.V10 winner, Greg Gleason, finish his TIMP Individual Time Trial with less than five hours to go in the three month TIMP window. He was the only ITT finisher, and it was good to have at least one!

So, why wouldn't I want to do this again? Easy- Three months of worrying, that's why. I may seem like, and come off to many, as one who is an "evil promoter willing and happy to send riders off to suffer", but trust me- I worry about folks when they ride a Trans Iowa, and the TIMP was no different. I care, as surprising as that may seem, and doing that for three months, even just a little bit, is energy I could redirect into some other efforts in the future. So, I hope you downloaded the TIMP course when you could, because it is gone, and I don't publish or share Trans Iowa routes, or related routes. As in ever. The TIMP was a major exception to my personal rule in that regard, and that exception lasted three months. So, don't ask me to put that, or any other T.I. related route, out there. I will not do it.

Finally, thanks to all those who attempted the TIMP. Thanks to Jeff Kerkove, my "Trans Iowa Family", and of course, my wife and kids for putting up with my non-sense over the years.

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