Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Trans Iowa v14: Sleep Is Over-Rated

Super Volunteers and good friends- Mike Johnson (L) and Matt Gersib or "MG"
That thing called sleep is a precious thing. It rehabilitates, resuscitates, and revives. It's a vital part of the cycle of life, but apparently something I never considered to be all that important for Trans Iowa. To wit: The riders generally are so anxious and tense before a 300+ mile bicycle ride to parts unknown that they have trouble getting to sleep, but have to wake up at 2:30am just to make sure they can get to the start line before the 4:00am start. Getting right to the state where you are producing those imaginary "Z's" over your head is paramount to having any chance of performing somewhat coherently the next what........34 hours, without sleep? Wait........what?!!

This is something not just relegated to the riders, but to myself and my volunteers as well. I have been found guilty on several occasions of not following my own advice and getting to bed early. There was that one year I ate a steak and had a glass of wine at midnight before a Trans Iowa with Bike To You's Craig Cooper, or the many times I sat up late drinking beers with MG or other volunteers. But this past TI wasn't going to be like that. I was going to behave and be on target. That sleep plan was going well as I got into bed before 10:00pm, but then all Hell broke loose and........well, fail. 

I snore. Loudly. While I was off to a good start, my roommate wasn't digging it. So, MG went out to his car and was going to crawl into his sleeping bag (apparently he was prepared for me!), and decided that I might freak out if I awoke to find an empty bed next to me. So, he kindly sent me a text, and when the notification came through, loudly, as I don't turn off the sound on Trans Iowa weekends, I awoke. Then the patrons of the motel that particular evening handled the rest. Loud televisions, a "bouncing rubber ball sound" (?) and more forced me into staying lucid enough to start worrying about things. Our room clock was off by over an hour forward, and at one point I thought it was 2:30am when it really was barely past 1:00am. I called MG and woke him up, thinking it was "go" time. Embarrassed, I tried getting back to sleep. Then MG came in to use the toilet, as he had a sudden "movement" that needed attention. Well, that was that. Sleep plan in tatters. By this time it was past 2:00am and we were going to get going by 2:30am.

Class of v14 Image courtesy of George Keslin for Wally Kilburg Photography
I guess I was no worse for the wear since I severely limited alcohol consumption at the Pre-Race Meat-Up. Our overwhelmed waitress also pitched in by forgetting one of our requests. All good. The riders were starting to congregate already when MG and I pulled in. I directed MG to park in the street so we could get the riders lined up properly. A cop car then went by and returned shortly afterward, sidling up to where MG's car was blocking the Southbound lane of Broad Street in front of Bikes To You. I approached and the cop leans out of his window and tells me we cannot park like that. I promised to have the car removed, he seemed satisfied and rolled off. Meanwhile Craig Cooper had Bikes To You open for last minute purchases. Riddle me this- At what long distance gravel event can you walk in five minutes before the start to purchase gel packets and walk right back out into the starting grid? Kudos to Craig Cooper. You made this event super unique by doing what you did.

Cue sheet hand up process. Image by George Keslin
Anyway, Dori Jansma, one of my CP#1 volunteers, who scored lodging just above the start line, had a "coffee shop" planned for the start. She had a table there with two coffee makers and I availed myself of some morning joe . Thanks Dori! I love it when people find creative, positive ways to contribute. Especially when I am sleep deprived and that idea involves caffeine!  The cue sheet hand out process went on. It was a little disjointed, but it happened and we got it done before I thought we would. This mostly due to the riders being there beforehand, actually ahead of schedule. My admonishments at the Pre-race apparently having been taken to heart. Then I had MG move his car back where we had it before.

I guess if I were to ever do another TI this cue sheet hand up process would be handled differently, I have tweaks I would make, but that won't be necessary. Still, I learned a lot, once again, by trying something new. Just for the record, I really liked the dynamic this added. I wished I had done this years ago now. It was generally agreed upon that this change made the riders tackle the first leg like the others. I also found out that it was not uncommon for riders to study maps the evening before and have a strategy laid out. I knew this, as that was what changed the first checkpoint location years ago, but I guess it never dawned on me to eliminate that factor altogether. 

And just like that, the riders are off on the last Trans Iowa. Image by George Keslin.
 Anyway, we were ready to go. I gave a few last minute admonishments, my usual fatherly advice, and that was that. Now, what many do not know is that it was at this very moment that I had planned on giving the news that this was to be the final Trans Iowa. Thoughts of how I would "drop the bomb" were going through my head for months and I had no good answer. Ultimately it was an e-mail from Sarah Cooper, who was informing me of an injury that was preventing her from being at T.I.v14, that gave me an idea. She added that there was a "rampant rumor that this will be the last Trans Iowa". That gave me pause. If it was already a rumor, it was already driving decisions. My confirmation of that fact may have made bad decisions by riders much more likely. I decided to abort that plan and just let the event unfold organically without that added stress.

So, I sauntered around a few minutes, soaking up the experience, then gave the one minute to go command. I jumped in MG's Subie, checked my phone which showed 4:00am, and MG honked the horn at my command and we were off. The last Trans Iowa was finally in motion. But, I didn't have time to think about that. I would have time to reflect later in the day though.

Next: The Moon And Cows

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