Sunday, April 05, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: A Pivotal Version

I made the suggestion of a whiskey label for the T.I.v7 header and this is what Jeff Kerkove came up with.
 "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!

As I think back to this time and Trans Iowa, I cannot help but think that it was this particular version of this event which changed me and my life forever. It was that big of a deal. It also changed Trans Iowa. I would say for the better, and it forced the event into how it would be for the remainder of its time. That it was the Trans Iowa which closed out the first half of this event's lifetime is just another odd fact pointing to how special the event was.

Some of what made this one so much of a standout started with the version before it. Grinnell as the starting town, but yet to host an actual finish. The behind the scenes tension between David and I. The way we divided duties. All these were carry-overs from v6 and were things that really impacted v7 for obvious and not so obvious reasons.

Of course, this was the Trans Iowa that was documented by film maker, Jeff Frings, and which won a Chicago area Regional Emmy for Best Sports Documentary, Short Form. The video played every Spring from 2012 through 2018 on Iowa Public Television as a way to salute Trans Iowa. So, yeah, that obviously was a pivotal deal right there. But along with that, there was the "Dirt Rag" feature on Trans Iowa and gravel events which ran right after Trans Iowa v7, which I wrote, and which introduced the cycling industry, and a whole slew of riders, to gravel. To say that what came out of T.I.v7 was impactful and helped shape the future of cycling is no overstatement.

The story of T.I.v7 in "Dirt Rag" from June 2011. Image by Steve Fuller
It was the Trans Iowa which saw the ending of one partnership and the forging of a stronger friendship. There are things concerning these stories which I haven't disclosed here or on any other forum before, but which I will touch upon soon.

This Trans Iowa's event happenings are fairly well documented, as far as the race itself went. I have recounted the dominance of John Gorilla in the event, which was foiled by five flat tires, (this was the era before tubeless gravel tires, you might recall), and saw the amazing finish by Dennis Grelk, who ended up surprising everyone by his winning the event.

This was the event that saw Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey, one of the founders and currently one of the organizers of Gravel Worlds, busting his chain and damaging the drop out of his bicycle. He persevered to an unofficial finish, (since he went off-route for repairs), and logged 310 miles, crossed the finish line with his buddies, and all with that big smile on his mud splattered face.  This is the event where we finally had a woman finish Trans Iowa. Janna Vavra pulled this feat off with only 17 minutes to spare before the final cut off of 34 hours.

The film, "300 Miles Of Gravel", tells all about this stuff and more. I won't be going over this again. However; I will tell a few tales of people and things which happened back then that haven't been told at all, or have only been touched upon. I'll talk about how this Trans Iowa changed the ones that followed and how that came about. It's an important part of Trans Iowa history and, as I said, a big part of mine too.

Hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Next: A Special Summer


Al said...

Mark, I think 300 miles of gravel documented Trans Iowa V8. V8 was the last year I missed and the film was debuted at the pre race meeting at V9

Guitar Ted said...

@Al - No, if you look at the cover of "300 Miles of Gravel", it clearly shows a steep climb, which I know is in Tama County, near Traer, on K Avenue. T.I.v8 went South, and was not anywhere near this area. I could cite more examples, but I don't want to bog the comments down. But one more- In the film, the guys are seen on a pea gravel bike path. I did not use such a path for V8. While there was a paved bike path used in v8 (Pella Iowa) it wasn't the Creamery Trail (v7).

Sorry, but I think your memory is off there.