Friday, May 11, 2018

Trans Iowa: Answering Some Questions

Since I announced "The End" of Trans Iowa, there hasn't been an outcry for the event to return, there hasn't been a lot of direct communication concerning it, and honestly, the whole ending of it went over way better/easier than I thought it was going to go. Why? Pfffft! I have no idea at all. 

So much for that. Now what?

 Well, there were a few questions. Questions like, "Have you considered passing TI on to another director? Would anyone be willing to take on the daunting responsibility?", which was asked in a comment last week. I'll be honest, I've been asked this before, and there has even been a person who asked who was interested in taking Trans Iowa on. It sounds like a good way to extend this into the future. However; one must put on their "reality glasses" and give this some serious thought before thinking it "will" work. It could work......maybe. Given the right person.

I have been asked about how many hours it took to do what I did every year. That's a fair question. I mean, how much time can such a simple, stripped down event take? It maybe looks easy from the outside. While I cannot tell you an exact number of hours, I can give you an analogy which maybe will help you understand this.

Dairy farmers used to have to get up and milk cows twice a day, every day, at the same hours every day. My uncles and Grandfather were dairy farmers. They never went on vacation unless they could hire out a guy or two to cover their daily chores. That's what putting on an event like Trans Iowa is like. You think about it all the time. When you want to get away from it, you can't. You have to give up that race or ride in October to do recon of the course. You don't go on the pub ride because you are thinking and planning a new course, and it never stops. You are doing Trans Iowa stuff all year. It just intensifies starting in October and doesn't stop intensifying until May. Then the cycle starts all over again.

These things don't write themselves. It takes a lot of time and effort to do these right.
So, maybe there is a person willing to do this. Then there are the cue sheets. These represent hours and hours of thought and labor.  Just coming up with a new course every year is a daunting task, and then you have to drive it to verify it. HAVE TO DO IT THIS WAY. There is no tech short cut, no Garmin app, no way you can just sit there on your ass and think you can have a good course, free of dead ends and truncated roads, if you try it any other way than to actually put your eyes on the course. After 14 years, I know what I am talking about here. And that takes time, money, and, not to forget, wear and tear on your vehicle. Plus- you have to have a vehicle friendly to Level B road travel. Your Mustang? Not going to cut it. Oh! And let's not forget that you may have to get out there multiple times to get the course right. This all just to get good, accurate cues. That doesn't cover getting the roster set, registration, communications with riders and sponsors, making bits up like roster sheets, waivers, number plates, pipe cleaners, pens, clipboards, etc.

Maybe one person could do it that way....... Which leads me to the next question: "Do you fear that it might morph into something you never wanted?"

Answer: No. I don't "fear" that, I know it would happen. And ultimately, this is why Trans Iowa could not work without someone of like mind to myself. Because almost anyone else would do a LOT of things to make it easier on themselves. Why wouldn't they? I would expect a new RD to set a permanent course, which would help eliminate a lot of recon, they would have GPS files for downloading to eliminate cue production costs, put the course out ahead of the event, and then I would expect that this RD would charge you money to enter this event to cover an insurance policy which would cover his butt in case something happened to a rider. Then I would suspect that it would be nothing at all like Trans Iowa anymore. 

Either that or someone willing to do it the hard way, to preserve the spirit of the event, would have to take it over that would continue everything just the way I had it. They wouldn't care about money at all. They wouldn't be afraid to stick their neck out and bet against the odds of being sued. My personal opinion is that this will never happen. But if someone out there says, "This event is like the old Trans Iowa", then you better beware, because I am willing to stake my reputation on the fact that it won't be anything like the way I did things. Now, they might say it is "better" than TI was. Fair enough, but that is a different flavor, not "the same" as TI was.

That may sound pompous, conceited, or may sound like braggadocio, but in my opinion, those are facts. It will be a super rare person that would take on a burden like TI was and run it the way I did. Time will tell if I am right about that.

So, it is not my current intention to "hand over" the event, or that there will ever be an event called "Trans Iowa" ever again. I just want it to go away, personally. I don't have any problem with that idea. Things end. Time moves on. Trying to "keep the dream alive" is an idea that almost always ends up in a watered down, twisted version of the way (whatever it was you want to use as an example) started out. I'm just not interested in perpetuating that sort of an idea by endorsing anyone else's try at this.  

I hope that answers some questions out there.


Dave said...

Mark-you’ve done a great job with the event and putting your own character traits into it. I can’t imagine TI would have the same aura without you. God rest TI’s soul, and let something else emerge.

GravelDoc said...

I've followed your blog for a few years now and have come to realize how deeply personal T.I. has been for you, Mark. When you announced #14 was the last, your tone of resignation, fatigue, was palpable. I wonder if that is why you've heard no "outcry". Also, it may take time for the finality to sink in before something emerges. Just my thoughts.

GravelDoc said...

P.S. Congratulations on successfully staging such a long running event with both integrity and candor

Katharine Ankofski said...

I agree with GravelDoc 100 percent -- I am certain the lack of outrcry was the knowledge that our protests would do no good. And many of us may still be in mourning. I know I've been holding off on writing my race report knowing that every lesson learned feels a bit heavier with the realization that this was the last. Overwhelmed with gratitude that I was able to be there for the last two, and so, so grateful for all your work to create a community that has influenced me like no other.

S.Fuller said...

Mark - I think the reason for the "lack of outcry" is not because people don't care (and I think you are far too smart of a man to think that is the case). I, and many other people, know that you don't sugar coat things, even if they are difficult for people to hear. That's one of the things I admire about you as a person and an RD. As you've said, this has been your labor of love for 14 years, as well as a monkey on the back of your family for that time as well. You've publicly stated you are done running and organizing TransIowa, and while we could certainly email, call, or talk to you in person about changing your mind, you've chosen a path. We are smart know that nothing is going to change your direction at this point.

Regarding a "passing of the torch", contrary to your feelings on the matter, I fully believe there are kindred sprits that would do the work required to keep the event as it has been for the past 14 years.

blooddoc23 said...

I would like to “outcry” that I am bummed that the event is over, and I would like nothing better than to come up there and give it another go. I enjoyed every aspect of the event except for maybe the dust, and the bonking but that’s my own problem. But I just can’t in good conscience ask another person to keep sacrificing so much. It would be ill mannered, when you have been so generous. So I think what you have here, is more of a quiet respect and understanding. I’m just hoping the gravel event bug might bite someone in your area, and that you may show them the ropes and be nurturing.

Roy Rhodes said...

All in all the Trans Iowa Legacy ends on a good note with Trans Iowa V.14. I personally have had varying degrees of bad luck and this year was my best performance. It should be very apparent to anyone who has followed this blog to see how grueling it is to plan and hold this event. I respect the integrity and sacrifice you had in planning and presenting the event all these years. Through all the ups and downs it has been a great ride.

Nooge said...

I agree with the others that it is respect, gratitude and sympathy that keeps people from complaining about the end of TI. Those that know that you put it on are also likely readers of this blog. And you can't read this blog without getting a sense of how much sacrifice you made for TI.

It also helps that there are many other gravel events for people to do. They don't replace TI, but they do give people another goal to pursue instead of latching onto the end of TI.

I personally wouldn't want there to be any more races called TI because ultimately it would be different like you said. It's much better for any "replacement" to have its own name. They can always be referred to as a successor or similar event, but don't let the TI legacy be put in someone else's hands. There's no upside as I see it.

Unknown said...

“Quiet respect and understanding “ sums it up perfectly. It’s impossible to read these posts over the last two weeks and feel otherwise. I would suggest a second least a second reason for me.

As a rider, This event gets in your head. You think about it all of the time. You dream of finishing. You review your equipment choices for months. You want to prove the first finish wasn’t a “fluke”. You want to prove you’re not too old. You and your family know what it’s going to take if you sign up in the fall. Getting in is exciting....with a good helping of fear mixed in!

Have you taken your last crack at it? Are you going to try again? Is it just too big of a challenge? These thoughts and feelings have come up every fall since 2005 for me. There is a small measure of solace that there will be no Trans Iowa to challenge anymore. Just as it has been a labor of love for you, Mark, it has been a challenge of love for many riders.

Over time it becomes more difficult to “rise to the occasion” for riders, too. Honestly, it feels like riding into checkpoint 2 thirty minutes late; sad the ride is over, proud of what you’ve accomplished, and relieved to have to get off of the bike. Happy trails!

Ari said...

Yes, it has been quiet. It has been hard to come up with words to describe the magnitude of this event. Thru these posts the readers have also learned of the sacrifice to put this on. Is it easy to let go? I don’t think so. Thanks to everyone that wrote such kind words. We have become friends forever. Ari

Unknown said...

Mark, I simply feel blessed that a friend challenged me to consider this race. I went 1 for 2, so I am a newbie by most accounts. I echo all of the comments above, appreciating and respecting everything you did for us riders. Having no TI t-shirt, no TI finisher's medal, baseball cap nor anything else to show for the training and races, I have much more -- a sense of kindred with everyone who has ever toed the line at 4am in Grinnell. With no future chapters to be written for TI, the "book" will always remain on the best seller list!

CrossTrail said...
This comment has been removed by the author.