Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Trans Iowa v12: It Is Longer Than You Think

The long road to the finish line of Trans Iowa starts long before you get to Grinnell.
Trans Iowa v12's roster has contracted from the original 120 that got on the Roster back in October to under 100 as of this writing. To many folks that I related this fact to, this seems to be a negative for the event. They see it as a reflection on how the event isn't something that folks are attracted to. However; anyone close to the event knows that is far from the truth. Others may see the attrition before the event starts as a sign that riders are not "committed enough" to actually showing up. They are often seen as "taking a spot" someone else could have used. This is also totally in error.

Personally, as race director, I was not ever concerned, nor am I now concerned with the actual numbers of folks that show up. You either do or do not. I only want to know if you will not, since I can adjust my expenditure in dollars and effort accordingly. Doing stuff and spending money on things for people that will not show up is not conducive to me keeping this thing going. So, first I want to thank those 21 riders that so far made the effort to let me know that I don't have to work for them or spend any more money to accommodate them for this year's Trans Iowa. The people that do commit to coming, and do show up, I will work gladly for them, and I enjoy seeing them, and meeting them. But as for the numbers, it doesn't matter to me if there are 50 or 100.

I was thinking the other day though and it occurred to me that Trans Iowa v12 won't start in Grinnell. Oh, sure......bicycle riding will commence at 4:00am April 23rd. However; Trans Iowa v12 won't start then. It already has started. I would say it started when I officially announced it, but for the riders, well most of them, it started when they got on the T.I.v12 roster. Training hell, mental gymnastics, and logistical nightmares all began when those names appeared on the T.I.v12 roster back in October of last year.

Of course, I have always known this for myself. I have thought and worked on Trans Iowa v12 going back to the day that T.I.v11 ended. I think about it 365 days a year, and I realized that some riders do as well. Trans Iowa is something of a haunting ghost. It never leaves you, and it can be a burden. I have had riders tell me that they don't do Trans Iowa anymore because it consumes so much of their energies throughout the year. They wanted to be free, so they wrote off ever doing another Trans Iowa again.

Then there are those who have all that intensity packed into the six months leading up to Trans Iowa. It can become overbearing, and it isn't even anything they paid to do, or anything that they will ever gain any material or worldly thing from, yet they run towards that starting date in Grinnell as if the very hounds of Hell were on their tail. It can be too much.

That's just the mental side. Then there are all the troubles of the world that can interfere. Weddings, funerals, jobs lost and gained. Injuries, sicknesses, and obligations. I get all manner of explanations for dropping off the roster for any particular Trans Iowa.

I realized that these folks were "in Trans Iowa", but didn't finish. They were putting in an effort unseen and mostly unknown to anyone but their closest friends and family members. Still, it was an effort, and they were trying, and they all had the best intentions of finishing. I really do not believe for a minute that anyone that has ever dropped out of a Trans Iowa was "taking up a spot" that a more "deserving" rider should have had. I have had potential race winners, past race winners, and riders with multiple finishes all drop out of Trans Iowa v12. I dare you to say that these, or any of the 21 so far were "undeserving" of a spot that they once held. No, they simply didn't make it to the end, for whatever reasons. I assure you that all 21 so far are bitterly disappointed......or relieved! 

 Now, I am not saying that "everyone is a winner", because clearly, that isn't the case. Those that don't get to Trans Iowa to ride that were signed up are not bitterly disappointed, or relieved for nothing. They are maybe feeling that way because they feel they failed, or missed a chance, most likely. That is my best guess.

It also is not true that Trans Iowa wasn't important enough for them to get their ducks in a row to make it work out either. We know this due to the reasons given which caused folks to be physically or monetarily unable to pursue the Trans Iowa finish line. Things out of the control of most of these folks.

Finally, this is one of the reasons why I don't maintain a waiting list to transfer in people. Trans Iowa is something that, I feel, at any rate, is serious business. It isn't something to be taken lightly, and months of preparation are required for anyone to accomplish the ride successfully. Slotting someone in in January, March, and especially April, would be foolish. It would be nonsense to think that anyone waiting on a list that may not get in would be training and scheming for a possibility of riding in Trans Iowa. That is not a realistic plan of action for this event.

Trans Iowa is an odd event. It isn't like others, and it is not for everybody. That's okay. Some people think it is stupid, and others think it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I think it is what it is. A challenge that has a reward that isn't what you might think going in to it.

1 comment:

Iowagriz said...

Fantastic thoughts and post Mark. Great stuff!