|A look up Petrie Road's Level B section in 2020.|
Route planning for most of the last several Trans Iowa events generally started out with my pinpointing a small village to use as the first checkpoint. This started with our very first visit to Grinnell for Trans Iowa v6. Perhaps Grinnell is not unique in this, but it just so happened that several villages were around the distance from Grinnell that I could make a route work out with a 50-60 mile segment which was what I preferred to do for the first stop on the course. I would identify a town that we had not been through before and try out a route to make it work. Then I'd design outward from there depending on what I had in mind for an overall theme that year.
For the first two out of Grinnell, those checkpoints were influenced mostly by David Pals' desires to steer the course either through his former 'backyard' of Marengo or as with the v7 edition, his desire to see the course go by Phil Wood's old residence in Baxter, Iowa. (Yes- that Phil Wood!) So the courses kind of had to reflect those ideas. But by v8, of course, the course ideas were all on me. So by this point, what I described above was the norm for the genesis of a route.
Many times these ideas would be generated by bicycle rides. Either just adventuring or by way of the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals and Geezer Rides I held out of Grinnell. For instance, a scouting ride David Pals and I did for Trans Iowa v7 revealed the small village of Ira, Iowa, which became checkpoint #1 for Trans Iowa v9. Other times bits of Trans Iowa routes were generated out of these rides. Someimes I would get ideas generated by doing recon, as you might suspect, or by even local knowledge, as when Craig Cooper and Rob Versteegh recommended the Lynville/Sully area to us on several occasions. The first checkpoint for v10 came about that way.
One area that had intrigued me due to our routing by it several times was Deep River, Iowa. I first went through this village during T.I.v6 recon and when we were rushing back to North English to stop the event short that year. Then again during v7 recon, we went through that village. The hills were attractive and the area looked beautiful to my eyes. I was wondering if I could make a route work and tried this for the planning stages of V12.
Once I had identified a way to make the route work into and out of Deep River via gravel, and once the distance was fine tuned to what I wanted, I locked in that first section of the route, but what to do from there? I did not have a good idea, since what I really wanted to do was to find a covered bridge, (none out that direction), or to circumnavigate Des Moines, (wrong direction), so I was kind of left hanging for a bit. Some folks would have told me to just utilize the unseen parts of the previous Trans Iowa, and to be sure- that would have worked out, but I was stubborn. There was no way I was going to use any of that unused part of Trans Iowa v11. So......what to do?
By this point in my life I had stopped doing mountain bike parts and MTB bike reviews. I had switched over to gravel with my merging of "Gravel Grinder News" with "Riding Gravel". That meant that I was riding the gravel roads a lot more around my home town of Waterloo, Iowa. This led to my using a rare, for Black Hawk County, section of Level B Maintenance road on the Western end of Petrie Road South of Waterloo.
Throughout Trans Iowa's history, thoughts of bringing the event through the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area have popped up. This goes back to before a Trans Iowa event ever took place when Jeff Kerkove and I were brainstorming what the event would look like. There were thoughts of bringing it through George Wyth State Park where there is a bit of single track. This never happened, but the idea did bring Trans Iowa v3 around the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, as close as 7 miles away. Trans Iowa v4 also came near the area as well.
But since that time, Trans Iowa had not veered much Northward. The v9 edition did come up within about 25 miles of Waterloo, but that was it. One day, as I was riding Petrie Road's Level B section, I thought that it would make the perfect Level B road in a Trans Iowa. Thoughts grew, and when I got home, I drew up a route Northward, just to see if I could make it work. My fear being that the distance would get far too long. I wanted to keep things under 340 miles, maybe 330 being tops, so just bringing up Trans Iowa to ride Petrie Road wouldn't work if it was going to make the route way too long. It was a fantasy. Just a ruse to satisfy my mind- to make sure it was a dumb idea.
But I made it work......
Next: The GT and Jeremy Show