Sunday, September 05, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Look At The Landscape In 2016 - Part 1

From the Geezer Ride in 2016- This ended up on T.I.v14's course.

  "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! 

I've been treated to some great Trans Iowa stories and memories from riders recently. I am collecting these to - hopefully - put into a book at the end of this series. If you were a Trans Iowa rider and have any memories that you'd like to share, please do and send those to Maybe your tale will also end up in the Trans Iowa Book Of Tales!

Post T.I.v12 was a blur. I kept the pedal to the metal all throughout the Summer and into Fall. On one particular family trip that Summer, I found myself waiting for a table at a restaurant outside of the seating area in an antique mall where there were a lot of antiques for sale. Not far above my head was an old tin sign for a Southwestern tourist trap motel, or something similar. I cannot recall, but the design was that of stylized, outstretched wings and it reminded me a lot of the T.I.v10 logo. I had inspiration. At that moment, I was quite sure I would put on Trans Iowa v13, all due to a design idea for the site's header art!  

Of course, I already knew somewhat that I was going forward at least one more year. But in reality, there were a lot of reasons to quit. Trans Iowa v12 was a stellar event on almost every forward facing front, my struggles behind the curtains, so to speak, notwithstanding. The event would have made for a great 'high point' to walk away from it all. You are never guaranteed how your exit from anything is going to look, except in rare cases, so taking a chance on another event was tough for sure. 

Not only was another Trans Iowa risky in terms of exit strategies, I also had a ton of fear in terms of what the odds were for a bad injury, or even a death to a participant were by this time. I had maybe emptied my good luck account? I don't know, but after that racer separated his shoulder in the early part of T.I.v12, my concerns were deepened and the longer I went on with this event, I figured there were higher probabilities for something bad to happen. I already knew I had dodged a lot of bullets already. 

Draft artwork for the T.I.v13 header.
Of course, you might think, the answer to all of that is to just get a good lawyer and good insurance. But the reality of the matter is all of that makes zero difference to your heart in the middle of the night as you lay awake wondering when the other foot may fall and you have to deal with a tragedy, or a bad injury to a rider. Insurance and lawyers may help you out, but your conscience? Yeah, you have to bear that on your own. When you 'care' it is a heavy burden to bear that spending money on insurance doesn't assuage. 

It's ironic as well that at about this time my correspondence with WTB's Will Ritchie was filled with his mentioning of how impressed he was that I cared for the riders and the event. It was a palpable sensation for him, and obviously, he was impressed enough to mention it several times. Now as for me, I never realized that I cared so much and so deeply. I was - you know - just doing my job, as it were. Anything less wasn't adequate. But I never had given it a thought as to what that looked like on the outside. And what is more, I realized Will was right. It was that energy, that caring, that was draining me and causing me to wear out. 

While that was foremost of the burdens I bore, there were some other things that were bearing down on myself and Trans Iowa. Technology and social media being the two biggest obstacles to keeping Trans Iowa the way I felt it needed to be. The world was more interconnected than ever and it was nigh unto impossible to escape it by 2016. Thinking back ten years prior, there were huge pockets of Iowa without cell phone coverage. There were no smart phones, no GPS bicycle computers worth a hoot, and social media was in its infancy. One could be disconnected and have a certain experience with - really - no other choice during Trans Iowa. In 2016? Heck, you could have been chatting on Facebook with a coach for the entire event if that's what you wanted to do. Granted, most riders did not want that, but there was that temptation to post an image, see the responses, and we all know and have read those posts thanking those that 'were with me there during my darkest hours during the event'. 

All that, in my opinion, was anti-Trans Iowa in spirit and in practice. But could it be stopped? No- it could not. The world had changed, and there was no going back, it would seem. And that made me think I was wasting my time with putting on Trans Iowa the way I was trying to do it. It was hard to not get down about that. Many still thought, and probably still do, that Trans Iowa in the latter years was that awesome challenge that it always had been. As much as I could steer that ship that way, yes- Yes it was. But the steering wheel was being ripped from my hands, to my way of thinking, and each passing year became more of a trial than the previous one when it came to steering that ship. 

 I get it though. I am an odd-ball. A weirdo that does things a different way. Many people still don't understand why I did what I did with Trans Iowa. My inspiration comes from a very different place than most folks does, which may explain some of it. My mother always told me that "You march to the beat of a different drummer." Because of how I am wired, it made Trans Iowa an odd duck in the gravel scene. By 2016, it was an enigma few people knew about or could wrap their heads around. I was okay with that. While that could have brought me further down, I had an excuse to keep going. That sign in the antique mall was one. I also had a couple of goals in mind to tackle which invigorated me. It was enough to overcome the negatives.......this time. 

Next: Part 2

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