Sunday, May 16, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: Secret Sponsors and More

The T.I.v12 banner became the de facto finish line photo op for finishers.
  "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 clicking on the "Trans Iowa Stories" link under the blog header. Thanks and enjoy! 

As things started to come together for Trans Iowa I had a couple big sponsors come back into the picture which helped make T.I.v12 a unique, fun experience. These sponsors were also part of the Trans Iowa v11 deal, and one of them had been backing the ride yearly since T.I.v9. While one of these sponsors didn't really want to be known, the other did, but at that time, I was under the impression that he did not want his company name blatantly associated with Trans Iowa.  So, following is a bit of the backstory on those two sponsors, why the one definitely wanted to be covert, and what these two had helped me accomplish over the years. 

So, stepping back a bit, I have to introduce Josh Lederman, who had been riding gravel events and started in riding Trans Iowa at the time of v9 and then rode T.I. every year till v13. Josh's family had a bail bond business and Josh had approached me about sponsoring Trans Iowa financially, as he perceived that it was a drain on me in that way. He started by sponsoring the event with a pretty significant amount of money, which I reinvested back into the event in the form of t-shirts, hats, and benefits to the riders and volunteers. One year, I think it may have been for v12, actually, I put the money into new tires for the truck, since I primarily used it for gravel recon. Also, many of the materials for the event production were purchased with this sponsorship money. Josh and Lederman Bail Bonds was a huge supporter of Trans Iowa and I could not have done much of what I did with the event without that vital support. 

In the end, that sponsorship ended at the level it had been at in part, I think, due to my misunderstanding of how I was to have been presenting Lederman Bail Bonds. I gotta say, I've never been one to pick up on, what sometimes are obvious, cues and I mishandled that one unfortunately. But from the perspective of Trans Iowa history, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that Josh Lederman and Lederman Bail Bonds was a huge cog in the wheel that made the event go for several years, right up through the end. 

The T.I.v11 banner with the changed element in the center. Otherwise this was T.I.v10 artwork. Image by Tim Bauer.
 The other 'silent sponsor' stepped in for T.I.v11 with the provision of the T.I.v11 banner. Astute observers will remember that this banner, placed at Checkpoint #1 in the shelter, bore a striking resemblance to the T.I.v10 header and t-shirt. This was because this sponsorship opportunity happened far in advance of T.I.v11 even being announced. At that point, I hadn't even come up with any artwork for Trans Iowa v11 yet. So, it was agreed upon that a tweak to the artwork for T.I.v10 would work out where the "v10' in the center was replaced with a "v11". 

This vinyl banner was made by the company where this rider worked. In keeping with his original request, I am not posting his name, but he rode in v7, v10, and v11. Oddly enough, even though this person wasn't coming to v12, he still wanted to sponsor it. This time I had artwork for the event done up and so the "Dragon" banner was made which essentially was a direct copy of the header artwork for the Trans Iowa site that year. 

Josh Lederman not only brought sponsorship to T.I, he rode and finished it!
Additionally, this sponsor also wanted to do hats for the volunteers. I am guessing this was prompted by my giving the volunteers shirts for v11, and whether or not this was the sponsors idea, or mine, I cannot recall now. So, I had a small batch of hats, which featured the Dragon embroidered across the front, made up and I distributed those to all the volunteers that year. I happen to have one pristine example left in my collection of 'memories', but the other two I had kept I wore and they look atrocious now! Anyway...... 

I almost forgot, this sponsor made stickers of the header art as well. That was a big hit, but he sent me so many! I may have a small stash left to this day somewhere. Ironically my kids stuck one on the hallway wall upstairs where we live. We left it there as a reminder. I think it finally fell off last Winter. My son stuck one on his bedroom door and that one is still there. A constant reminder of this one man's desire to sponsor Trans Iowa, but remain anonymous while doing so.

The point here is that a simple gesture like having a banner made turned out to be one of the highlights of the ride for finishers. I decided to have the banner travel from checkpoint #1 to the finishing area at a local park and we just randomly posted it near the impromptu 'finish line'. As the 40+ finishers trickled in throughout the morning and early afternoon, many of these riders took the opportunity to have their finish line images taken with the banner. This was completely organic and unplanned. Had this special sponsor not taken it upon himself to put that banner in my hands, this never would have happened. Would the finish have been somewhat diminished in its experience for these riders had the banner not been there? Probably to a degree, yes. Just judging from what I saw, many memories were frozen in time there. 

Along about this time a local by the name of N.Y. Roll came around to me and asked to be a volunteer. He also went out and arranged for a 'surprise' for me and the volunteers of Trans Iowa v12. Other than my having pre-knowledge of something happening, I had zero idea of just what this 'surprise' entailed. Was it going to be a gift? Something else? N.Y. Roll gave me absolutely no clues. 

Ah.....yeah! Weird to see this, even today! Image by Jason Boucher.
When the 'surprise' was ready, N.Y. Roll texted me and said he was running it over to my house. He walks up with a big cardboard box, flops the lids open, and I see a visage of myself, albeit clean shaven, on an ash grey t-shirt. I was flabbergasted! 

First off, I never would have allowed that, and N.Y. Roll knew that, so that is why it was a surprise! second of all, I was a bit miffed to find out that N.Y. Roll had undertaken this by using an image of Jason Boucher's without his permission. But there was no going back at this point, and we weren't making money on this. In fact, N.Y. Roll footed the entire bill for these. So, if you volunteered for T.I.v12 and got one of these, you can thank him. Don't thank me! 

I never took one for myself, but both my children did. My daughter wears hers once in a while to get a rise out of me, otherwise, this is just one of those oddball things associated with Trans Iowa that you may have never known about. I've no idea who might have had one of these besides N.Y. Roll and my kids. 

 Then another surprise was something Mike Johnson, a former Trans Iowa veteran and finisher, was cooking up on his home 3-D printer. He had me over one day and showed me the prototypes for a key chain idea he had. It was an outline of the state of Iowa with "Trans Iowa v-12" inside of it. I approved and so he made enough for all the racers and volunteers to have one. 

One thing not many people may know but a small handful of those key chains were made in a white plastic, while most were in black. If you have a white one out there, it is a rare one. I don't even have a white one! But I do have one of the bigger prototype sized ones which I customized so it only says "Trans Iowa" and the background is blue sparkle paint.  

The Trans Iowa v12 key chain that Mike Johnson made for all the riders and volunteers.

 So, besides that there was another round of WTB tires for every finisher. I got cases and cases of new tires and we even were promised two new models, never seen before, one for each winner of the Men's and Women's categories. I was just totally blown away by WTB, and Will Ritchie's, willingness to grace the event with such special treatment. I've talked about all of that before, but every chance I get to thank WTB and Will, well, I am going to do that now and into the future. 

Another longtime sponsor, Velocity USA, also pledged a Velocity Bottle Trap bottle cage for each rider. Man! Besides the other sponsors, I was just blown away by how people wanted to contribute to Trans Iowa. I'm sure I could go on, but this sampling should get my point across. Companies, people, and even anonymous benefactors were all coming together to grace Trans Iowa with things and efforts in a celebration of what had been going on for over a decade. And I will always be forever grateful to everyone for those efforts to do that.

Next: Life And Happenings

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