Sunday, January 10, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Prank Entry and Registration Madness - Part 1

A couple examples of post card entries for T.I.v11.
  "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!

Trans Iowa v11 was perhaps the weirdest version of the fourteen versions. As we learned in the previous two posts, recon was doomed, or seemed to be, and then registration...... Oh my! This version's registration process caused all sorts of ill feelings, anger, and resulted in a big change to registration for the last three Trans Iowa events. But perhaps the weirdest thing that came out of registration was a prank gone wrong that stirred up a hornet's nest of debate concerning doping and former doping athletes. 

Before I get into all that though, I probably should recap how registration for Trans Iowa was done for many years. Things were quite a bit different back in the early days of the event! But maybe most surprising to many people is that for the first two Trans Iowas, we had what would be considered a fairly normal entry process. We had a fee, used to cover our insurance, and registration was held online via a hosting company, (I cannot remember who), and the field was filled out in that manner. Once the available spots were taken, registration closed. However; the third Trans Iowa revealed that our costs were going through the roof for insurance, had we opted to use it, and the rate would have pushed the entry fee to get into Trans Iowa far above 100 dollars. 

This wasn't a deal-breaker with myself at the time, but Jeff was particularly disturbed by this trend of insurance costs. He was coming from the solo 24hr racing world when we started Trans Iowa and entry fees for those events could be $300.00 or more. One of the things about Trans Iowa Jeff wanted to have as a feature was a very low, or no, entry fee. Our first entry fee was something like $20.00 and the second was $30.00, if I recall correctly, so this proposed jump was, to say the least, rather alarming. 

This pushed us to drop the insurance, go rogue, and find some other way to run the registration. I believe it was Jeff who suggested post cards in the beginning, so that is how we landed on that idea. Riders would simply fill out a cheap post card with the data we required, send it in during a specified time window, and once the field filled up, we were done. 

It didn't take long for riders to figure out that sending a post card via 'snail mail' could be a pathway to being left out if the roster filled. This fear led to many folks sending entries via over-night express service, like FedEx, or UPS, and even USPS Priority Mail. Once that began it was kind of a competition to see who could get my attention in other ways. I'm not entirely sure why people started sending 'gift entries', but that started fairly soon as well. Pizzas, cases of oil, flowers, and potato chips were sent to me along with some other odd things. Finally, when a local entered Trans Iowa by dropping off his entry at the shop where I had entries sent, more people started showing up at the shop dropping things off. This all came to a crazy head as Trans Iowa v11 registration started. 

Generally it was the "Rookie Class" that was the most affected by this madness. Winners of past Trans Iowas were guaranteed entry upon request, and people who had done the event before, or as I called them, "Finishers" and "Veterans", were given priority for entry. I split the available spots up three ways- Winners/Finishers first, then Veterans, and anything left over from the first two batches were added to the Rookie's allotment. Competition for the Rookie slots grew to a fevered pitch during the last few registrations before v11. For this eleventh time around, things went completely off the rails. 

The next several entries of "Trans Iowa Stories" will delve into all this registration stuff and will include stories about how registration affected the shop I worked at, what the post cards were like, and it will cover gifts and other oddities. I will get all that out of the way first and then the climax of this all- the registration for Trans Iowa v11- will be told. In my view, you won't really get a feel for the final wild open registration unless you understand the building up to those events. 

Next: A Prank Entry and Registration Madness - Part 2

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