Sunday, November 30, 2014

Trans Iowa V11: A Look At The Rules Part 12

Jeremy Fry riding off into the night of T.I.V7 (Image by W. Kilburg)
Last year I did a historical overview of each Trans Iowa up to T.I.V9. This year I am going to revisit something that I feel many folks have overlooked for a long time; The "Race Rules".

Last week we took a look at a couple of common sense traffic rules and conduct deals This week I'll briefly discuss the rule dealing with the night time portions of Trans Iowa, Rule #13, seen here in its entirety:

13: All racers must use and carry with them a flashing red taillight and front light, and a back-up light source, i.e. headlamp. A cell phone is also a good/great idea.

Obviously, you need to see at night to ride effectively, or at all. Besides this, it is an obvious safety issue. However; we were advised to put this rule into the event by Mike Curiak because he said to us at the time that people would actually try riding at night without lights. I know, crazy, right?

However; Mike was so adamant that folks would try to do this stupid human trick that he advised us- strongly advised us- to start the event at night so it would force people to use their lights out of the gate. Plus we would be able to detect "stupid" more easily. Of course, we didn't listen the first year. The first Trans Iowa started at 8:00am in the morning. Imagine that, current Trans Iowa vets and finishers! Imagine the sleep you could miss!

Trans Iowa's starts have become rather spectacular. Image of T.I.V9's start by H Wince
The first night time start to a Trans Iowa was during T.Iv2. It was drizzling rain, and slightly breezy, but the lights of the 50 or so riders were spectacular to behold. It was at this point that I decided I liked the night time start just because it was so cool to see all these bicycles and riders lit up like Christmas trees, if for no other reason. However; there were other reasons.

The biggest thing was being able to cut off the event at 2:00pm on Sunday afternoon to allow for travelers to get home and be with families, at jobs, or back in schools by Monday. We both, (at first Jeff and I, then David, then all the volunteers...), needed to be at work on Monday too. So, it was mostly out of a need to adapt the start to allow for some modicum of rest and allow for travel times so folks could be back integrated into the "real world" without missing a beat. In fact, I haven't missed a Monday at work after a Trans Iowa until I started taking Monday off after Trans Iowa V9's completion.

When things break- Who ya gonna call? Image from T.I.V7
The second part of this rule deals with cell phones and our urging riders to carry them. We were concerned that as riders became stretched out over the 300 plus miles of the Trans Iowa course, some would not make it due to physical issues, mechanical breakdown, or both. Our intentions were that riders should call for a ride to be extricated from the course in the event of something happening which would prevent further progress.

Back in 2005, not everyone was down with cell phones, and even today, there are a few holdouts. We still get some folks that don't have any support and have had to ride themselves out of a Trans Iowa that didn't go well for them. It is an issue that should be considered very carefully by anyone attempting a Trans Iowa event.

So far, we've only had a couple of issues with knowing where everyone is at the end of an event. It has been several years ago now, but on one occasion I had a gentleman who shall remain nameless call me from the comfort of his home on a Monday after Trans Iowa to let me know he had dropped out. So, just getting folks to call in a timely manner, much less convince them to carry a cell phone, has been a challenge for me in the past!

An interesting anecdote: I have used my personal cell phone number as the "DNF Line" for years now. It has always been the same number. Maybe that has helped over the years to get folks to call in, since- if they have done Trans Iowa before, they likely have my number already! At any rate, the call ins have been used by riders when they drop out to a high degree so that now it is super rare for me to know who is and who isn't out of a Trans Iowa. Granted- things get fuzzy with my memory after 3am Sunday morning, but the system seems to work great nowadays.

Next Week: Navigation!


Unknown said...

I'd appreciate views on dynamos hubs vs. using batteries to power/charge lights, cell phones and cycling computers. Will these hubs withstand cold, wet and muddy conditions?

Guitar Ted said...

@Rick Rockhold: Dynamo hubs have been used in Trans iowa since the early days of the event. The newer ones that recharge devices have also bee used in the later events with seemingly good results. (Finishers have used them, as an example.)

Now I will say that we haven't had a "wet & muddy" Trans Iowa since V7, so I can't speak to durability.

Doug M. said...

@Rick Rockhold: From what I've seen, most modern dynamo hubs are very well sealed and reliable in weather. The weak point in a dynamo system is usually the connector at the hub; best to wrap that with some electrical tape for an event. Sealing in the light housing itself can be an issue; Schmidt Edelux and Supernova seem to make the best sealed housings.

Just a point of awareness, most dynamo-powered rear lights don't blink (as per German laws). It would seem supplementary battery-powered blinking lights would be required to comply with rule 13.

Never gonna race TI myself, still very interesting to follow. Thanks GT for all the hard work & documentation!