Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Trans Iowa V11: A Look At The Rules Part 8

I wanna race Trans Iowa too!
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".

I skipped this feature last weekend and said I'd pick it back up where I left off, but some things have bubbled to the surface and I wanted to skip ahead to the rule that addresses this and explain why we do not split off categories per bike style.

First off, here is the rule....

9: Bike choice is up to you! We are allowing mnt bikes, cyclocross bikes, 29"ers, and road bikes if you really want to be stupid. Just be aware that some research is going to have to go into your final bike choice. The gravel roads of Iowa can get pretty harsh in northern part of the state. I suggest atleast a 1.95, but then again, it's up to you how much you want to hurt. We'll leave it at that.

You might be able to read into this rule a bit and maybe you can tell there was a bit of controversy going into the first Trans Iowa. And if that is the case, you would be correct. Here is how it came about......

A "typical" gravel bike set up circa 2014.
 When the first Trans Iowa was being planned, I knew of no one else that had more gravel road miles than Jeff Kerkove. He used the roads to train on for his solo 24 hour events. Typically, he would use the exact same bikes he raced on for gravel road riding. When Jeff mentioned that he thought it better to ride a gravel road on a mountain bike than a cyclo cross or road bike, I felt he knew what he was on to, plus it just made sense to me. Besides Jeff's opinions, it was his intentions to have Trans Iowa be an alternative event for the 24 hour/endurance cycling nutbags that he knew. That's why initially it was called the "Trans Iowa Mountain Bike Race". 

There was an on-line forum thread dedicated to Trans Iowa and a debate arose that basically pitted mountain bike use against cyclo cross bike use and why the rules didn't allow skinny tires. So, Jeff put me in charge of dealing with the rabble. I consulted with Jeff on where I felt the thing was going, and Jeff then instructed me to go ahead and modify Rule #9, the rule outlining which sort of bike one could use in Trans Iowa, and we dropped the "Mountain Bike" part after that.  So, now you know why the rule reads the way it does, and who wrote it. 

This brings up a couple of things that I have seen lately and while these issues haven't been specifically challenged yet, I will address them anyway, to preempt any questions or confusion that may arise from bicycle choice. 

Remember folks- Mud sticks to tires in Iowa, and bigger tires collect more mud. Choose wisely....

Trans Iowa recognizes that by limiting your gearing to a single fixed or freewheeled cog, you are heightening the difficulty of the event and this, in our eyes, changes the way that we measure the  performance of the riders. This is why we split off a class for Single Speed/Fixed gear riders. You might also note that what width of tires you choose does not, in any way, reflect the same view as we have for single speeders. So, there will never be a category for fat bikes in Trans Iowa, since in my personal opinion, they are mountain bikes with fatter than normal tires, not necessarily a performance limiter, like the single speed gearing is.  

Tandems: This is something of a conundrum since tandem entries are so rare at Trans Iowa. Here's my take- If only one tandem is in the event, it will be lumped into the Open Class and if that team finishes it will be observed in the results with an asterisk. If we were to see three teams enter? Maybe then I would split off a new category, but I am not all that anxious to do that. Tandem entries will be rare and so will most likely get special mentions, but will not get "special categories" for that very reason. 

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