|From the recon of the v10 route|
Trans Iowa v10 was planned out to be a big exit and as I have said before, I feel like word got around to many that this might be it for the crazy event. I don't have any hard evidence for that, but in years afterward, in fact immediately afterward, I was made aware that riders wanted it to continue. They wrote me hoping against hope that it would go on. Why? Unless they knew it was the last one? Maybe, but more than likely, I was telegraphing my feelings that I wanted it to end through my many communications with the riding audience on my blog here.
Whatever the reason, the 'decade of TI' thing, fear of it being the last one, or just by mere happenstance, Trans Iowa v10 broke a lot of records and holds them forevermore. First was the rider start total of 106. That was an attrition down from 130! Now this fact alone had me super-concerned. How that number of riders could affect things was not known. Had the full compliment of riders shown up it would have been like having two traditional fields for Trans Iowa come at once. Could the convenience stores keep up? Could I account for every rider? Yeah..... This was going to be challenging.
The previous Trans Iowa set a record for starters at 91. So, there was some precedent for what a large field might entail for the running of the event. This would be adding 15 more folks, and maybe that wouldn't be a big deal. Still, I knew that for v10 I wasn't going to cut short the number of cues available at Checkpoint #1! And that was a good decision, as 99 riders passed through Checkpoint #1, more than had started the previous year! It hadn't been that long before, at Trans Iowa v8, where we had 55 people go through the checkpoint and that was a new, amazing record!
Yeah, looking back on it, there definitely was something going on with the attendance at Trans Iowa v10. There never was another field over 100 after that, and only v11 and v14 were over 90. (94 and 95 people respectively)We only had 75 take the start at v13! Heck, more people made it through Checkpoint 1 in v10 than we had for starters for each of the last four Trans Iowas!
So, what was it? Why so many for v10 and then the numbers drift downward? My take is that the "Gravel Scene®" took off about the time we had v10. After this, the Land Run 100 (Now Mid-South), the Dirty Kanza 200 (now dubbed the "Unbound Gravel" presented by Garmin), and other new events were drawing off potential riders. Folks no longer saw Trans Iowa as 'one of the few must-do events', especially in light of the fact that Trans Iowa was ridiculously hard and these other events were not.
And, of course, I didn't care, nor did I ever want Trans Iowa to become a bigger, polished, traditional looking and feeling race. That wasn't my point in what I was trying to offer riders. I knew many wouldn't understand, and many would never, ever come to such an event. I also knew that the ones that did try it and that understood it were some pretty special folks. My hope is that Trans Iowa somehow resulted in an experience that enriched each and everyone of the people that came to ride it in a deep, lasting way. If that was the case, then my efforts could be described as 'successful'. But not in a way that is tangible by the "World's Standards" of success. Not in the traditional sense of "big time".
Next: Some Thoughts On The Actual Event Itself.