Sunday, September 01, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Setting A Course For The Future

Coming in April? Or was it? Things could have turned out very different in 2007.
"Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

There was one major difference, from a rider's perspective, that was sure to be in the next Trans Iowa in 2007. That was that the course would not be across the state. My revelation concerning how we did things came at the inaugural Dirty Kanza in 2006. The loop course was, in a sense, a way to make things easier for everybody. The whole idea of having to go across the state to recon, to start the event, have a separate finish line 300 plus miles away, and then worry about how the riders would get back from the finish was not something we wanted to deal with. A loop course eliminated all of that. For the riders, it made logistics easier. Getting off the course in the event of a DNF would also be easier for the support people. Volunteers could be a part of the event, and organizing them could be easier.

So, all of that was pretty much settled, but the rest? Not a chance! In fact, one of the little known stories about Trans Iowa is the story about how Jeff and I seriously searched out a tri-state course to make the event cross into Minnesota and Wisconsin. This idea arose because we knew the Driftless Region had a LOT of big hills and beautiful valleys. Of course, if we did this, the name "Trans Iowa" wouldn't work. Jeff and I threw out a few working names for the event, but until we had a course, nothing official would be decided.

During my research, I realized that I would need some maps, so I went out and bought brand new copies of Delorme Atlas books covering Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. I excitedly took them home and dove straight into it. Using these and cross-referencing the info with state road maps I had revealed something rather quickly. Southwestern Wisconsin is mostly paved, in terms of roads, and getting riders across the Mississippi would involve several miles of well traveled highways.

Not gonna happen.

The biggest reason why was, and would ever be, that from the get-go pavement was to be shunned for Trans Iowa. Keeping in mind that one of the reasons we were doing this was because our boss at the shop was a roadie and had done a road version of a cross-state bicycle ride in a day. Also- there was that lingering desire to do a full on dirt/single track ultra-endurance event in our minds yet at this time. Adding bits of single track was very much an option yet for us in planning for v3. Pavement riding was not on our radar, and Jeff and I weren't about to change that for Trans Iowa.

So, the whole "tri-state" idea was ditched in favor of sticking around in Northeast Iowa. We thought about coming down to our home area of Waterloo/Cedar Falls, but once again, the pavement necessary to get riders into the city was unappealing. So, in the end, the loop course went around the area we lived in, coming within around 10 miles of Waterloo/Cedar Falls in a couple of places.

Interestingly, several years later, Chris Skogen actually did this tri-state idea in the course he named the "Alexander" which became part of the Almanzo events. That tri-state idea was abandoned for 2019 as the Almanzo events were based out of Northfield, Minnesota instead of in Southeastern Minnesota, where the original Alexander course emanated from Spring Valley. This idea of Mr Skogen's being similar to ours was all just coincidence though, as I highly doubt that Chris Skogen had any idea we were considering doing that idea back in 2006.

Next: More Developments for V3.

1 comment:

Bill Dinger said...

My aunt has a farm in the driftless area and while I love riding that area I have hunted for almost a decade for a single mile of gravel roads and they just don't exist. It's all paved single lane roads to my eternal disappointment.

I will ride them but always have a ear out listening for a car (or horse - lot of amish) as a whole lot of blind hills/turns. Beautiful country though.