Sunday, April 11, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: It's About The People; Part 2

 "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!

In this special edition of Trans Iowa Stories I wanted to pause again to take a look at the folks who became an integral part of the event from T.I.v8- T.I. v11. Some are volunteers and some are people who rode in the event during those years. 

Some of the characters of Trans Iowa carry over from my "Part 1" of this mini-series within the Trans Iowa stories. You can click that link to go back an re-read that if you'd like. 

From L-R: Robert Fry, Jeremy Fry, Cornbread, Jason Boucher- T.I.v9 CP#2
I need to stop in this series for a bit to acknowledge the people integral to the event from the period of Trans Iowa v8- v11. I found this previously used image from v9 that has three folks I need to acknowledge and that were very important to having Trans Iowa at all, in one case here, and definitely in having the event run as well as it did for the last half of Trans Iowa's run. 

So as you may have picked up on by reading previous entries, Jeremy Fry became my right hand man in terms of putting on Trans Iowa. We did recon together, bounced ideas off each other, came up with ideas for courses together at times, and Jeremy's math talents were leaned upon heavily by me. Cue mileages and descriptors were often only as good as they were due to the diligence of Jeremy Fry. 

As if that wasn't enough, Jeremy often was a checkpoint volunteer, most often at checkpoint #2, and so many riders got to know him a bit from seeing him throughout the years. I also should mention that Jeremy participated in four versions of the event- v5, v6, v7, and v14., finishing two them. 

My favorite things about Jeremy are his cutting, dry sense of humor and his dogged determination to help make Trans Iowa as good as it could be. Sometimes I think Jeremy was more adamant about that than even I was! 

Another Fry, Robert Fry, a native of the U.K., was another figure in this time period of note. Robert was a distinctive individual in that he had toed the line at the very first Trans Iowa and had been around to see the beginnings of things since he is a resident of Waterloo and an avid cyclist who knew Jeff Kerkove. Robert was also heavily involved in randonnuering, so things like cue sheets, time cut -offs, and long distances were ideas not foreign to Robert. Besides riding in the first Trans Iowa, he rode in v8 and in v10, posting finishes in both events. 

Robert also was a huge help in volunteering at checkpoint 2, with Jeremy Fry, and Robert played off of that by declaring he and Jeremy as the "Brothers Fry", although they are not related. One of the more notable things about having Robert help out during this period was that during these years we had a few fellows come over from the U.K. to ride Trans Iowa. Robert, being an ex-pat U.K. fellow, was their biggest champion. 

This Jason Boucher shot of rider Paul Errington from the UK. at T.I.v9 ended up becoming an iconic Salsa Cycles catalog image.

Finally from the image above we have Jason Boucher, who was responsible for the email after T.I. v3 which influenced me to keep Trans Iowa going. I seriously doubt I would have continued on without his influence then. Jason also was connected to Salsa Cycles and took a lot of inspiration and information from Trans Iowa which informed gravel product for years to come. He was very influential in getting other Salsa/QBP related employees into Trans Iowa by way of talking up the event, and so we would not have had champions like Joe Meiser, or John Gorilla, more than likely, had we not had Jason Boucher in Trans Iowa's corner. 

Jason's passion is photography, and he brought his formidable talents to bear at Trans Iowa on a few occasions which not only was an honor for me, but also enhanced our event experiences and obviously preserved a lot of important memories from over the years. Not only that, but the story of Trans Iowa was told to far more people than it otherwise would have been because of the influence of Jason.

Greg Gleason pulls a line of riders up a hill at T.I.v10 Image by Wally Kilburg

Greg Gleason was a rookie rider at Trans Iowa v10 who no one knew anything about. After the finish, everyone there wanted to know who the heck this guy was that just won Trans Iowa. Well, we all found out in the years that passed since that Trans Iowa who Greg was. Just a very talented, fast, durable cyclist that animated every Trans Iowa after that until the end. That's all.

Greg was always one of my favorite riders at Trans Iowa. Always affable, kind, and supportive of myself and Trans Iowa, Greg became an ambassador of gravel riding there for a hot minute after he floored us all at T.I.v10. I'll have more to say about Greg in my last part of this mini-series. 

Another rider that started showing up around this time was Sarah Cooper. She had been involved in ultra-distance cycling and gravel riding was a fairly new thing for her. Yet she persevered and became a winner of the Womans Open class twice in her four attempts. She also figures heavily as an influencer of the event behind the scenes and in another way which I will get around to in my last post in the mini-series. 

Monica Sattler (L) finishing T.I.v9 with Paul LaCava

Monica Sattler who was from Germany, also was a pretty impressive rider from this period. She only rode in Trans Iowa one time, but she not only finished, but she won the Woman's Open! That's impressive! She then took her experiences from Trans Iowa and a few other gravel events and wrote an inspirational book which featured a bit from her Trans Iowa ride. Again, an ambassador for the event, spreading the word far and wide which we would never had the pleasure of having without her one ride in the T.I.v9.

Not only that, but I recall the banter we shared at the finish line that morning as being really enjoyable. I don't think I've had an exchange like we had with anyone else at any Trans Iowa. 

Jana Vavre is one of the most notable figures in Trans Iowa history. She became the first woman to ever finish a Trans Iowa at T.I.v7 and the first woman to repeat as a finisher when she came in 2nd in the Open Woman's class, 6th over all, at Trans Iowa v9. Jana's breaking of that barrier in v7 made it known that it was a possibility for other women to finish Trans Iowa. It was obvious that after her finish that more women started trying Trans Iowa, and I credit her valiant effort in v7 for this. By repeating as a finisher Jana only cemented this fact even further. Jana is a very influential, and underappreciated woman in the overall gravel scene in my opinion. She also figures into my last post in this mini-series. 

From the sponsor side we had a couple of what I would call "Super-Supporters" of Trans Iowa. One was a bit more behind the scenes, but Josh Lederman, who also rode in Trans Iowa, was my contact for sponsorship through Ledermann Bail Bonds. This sponsorship kept Trans Iowa going by way of financial support during times when I did not have the funds to do a lot of the things I wanted to do to enhance the experiences of those who came. Things like the 10th anniversary t-shirts, getting my truck repaired one year, and so on. Josh, and Ledermann Bail Bonds were vital to how Trans Iowa came out for several years there during this time period. 

The other "Super-Supporter" of Trans Iowa was Will Ritchie, then with WTB. It was Will's passion for Trans Iowa and for how I did things which caused him to become a huge advocate for Trans Iowa, and gravel riding in general, during that time. In fact, it could be said that without Will's insistence that WTB get a hold of this gravel grinding thing, and support Trans Iowa, a few things may never have happened. I'll have a lot more to share about Will and WTB in my last post in this series. 

Just as I have started this post with talk of volunteers, I am going to end it with volunteers. One of the biggest super-fans of Trans Iowa was the group known as the Slender Fungus. I counted on them heavily during these latter years of Trans Iowa for their unwavering support. Ari Andonopoulous, Mike Baggio, Arik Gum, and T.J. were indispensable and an integral part of various bits behind the scenes and as volunteers. 

Next; A Moment Of Reflection

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