Sunday, October 02, 2022

The GTDRI Stories: How The Second One Came Together

Jeff Kerkove designed this for the '07 GTDRI from an image by David Story from T.I.v3
  "The GTDRI Stories" is a series telling the history, untold tales, and showing the sights from the run of Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals. This series will run on Sundays. Thanks for reading!

As I have said, 2007 was a very busy year and I was scrambling from project to project trying to keep up. The recently completed Trans Iowa v3 had really taken a toll on me as well. Yet I was being encouraged all along to keep at the gravel thing. Both in terms of Trans Iowa and the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. 

I've mentioned how an email from Jason Boucher changed my mind about stopping Trans Iowa, but continuing the GTDRI wasn't a slam dunk. Not by a long shot, and if you stop to think about this a moment, it isn't hard to see why I may have wanted to just drop the whole thing when it came to gravel riding.

From my July 4th gravel ride in 2007. I tweaked my knee during this ride causing me to be off the bike a while.

That isn't to say that I was ever going to quit riding gravel. No- I loved riding gravel roads. I likely would have kept doing those rides if I had gotten out of the scene in 2007, but I didn't. And besides the whole "being too busy" thing, why would I? Well, there was one thing I was thinking about here....

One of Jeff Kerkove's ride announcements.

You see, my feeling was that Jeff Kerkove was Trans Iowa. I was merely a helper alongside him for the event. At least that's how I viewed things for the first two events. But by 2007 I was picking up the slack that Jeff laid out, either by design or just by happenstance, and I became the de facto leader of Trans Iowa. Believe me, it wasn't my choice to be "The Man" for that event!

And when Jeff decided to take the job in Colorado with Ergon in late 2006, I kind of felt like he was also taking the gravel scene, such as it was, from the area as well. He pretty much was the instigator for any ride on gravel around here for the better part of two years. 

And me? I was 'nobody'. I was just a mechanic, in my mind, who had no business leading any ride, because I was no where near the caliber of rider that Jeff was, (and still is, by the way). So maybe I had a bad case of "Imposter Syndrome", or something, but that's the situation I was in back then. 

So, left to my own devices, between being "too busy", not being "good enough", and thinking this whole gravel thing was a bit goofy, I was ready to focus it all on my 29"er gig. But again, outside influences, like those of Jason, Jeff, and David Pals, changed all that. 

So, since I was able to rely on David as a resource for the route, there was a GTDRI in 2007. Of course, earlier I had intended for there to be a GTDRI #2, but as I said, it wasn't a done deal. After T.I.v3, I had reservations as I have stated. I didn't announce that there would be a GTDRI for sure until June of 2007. Early on I made a reference to having a course in mind, but I don't think this was the one David came up with. I think this was my idea which ended up becoming the 2009 GTDRI. 

One of three sections of Level B road that would become part of the T.I.v5 course which were in the '07 GTDRI.

Eventually David wanted to show me some of the course he had in mind for the 2007 GTDRI. I made some time in July and met David at Doose's Cafe in Marengo for breakfast. We then took to the gravel along the Iowa River Greenbelt. This was an area completely unfamiliar to me at that time, but an area I would become intimately familiar with in the years to come.

David was pretty chuffed to be able to show off some of the more rustic and gnarly roads he had discovered during his explorations on gravel. We came up on an old iron bridge not far West of Belle Plaine, which I need to go find again - if it still exists! Anyway, on from there were three short sections of some of the most crazy Level B Roads in Iowa.

David Pals checking his camera during the GTDRI recon for the 2007 ride.

I was simply amazed and excited about the roads that David was showing me. We ended up putting in a good amount of miles on a hot, sultry day, but even though I was exhausted by the end of it all, I think my passion for gravel riding was pumped up to a new level that day. Often times I wonder what I would have done had I not gotten that invitation from David to help with the '07 GTDRI. It was a pretty important time for me and my participation in the gravel scene from that point on. 

And because of that day, those sections of Level B road found there way into a future Trans Iowa. Much of the Iowa River Green Belt road system ended up becoming parts of various Trans Iowa routes as well. Belle Plaine featured in several Trans Iowa events afterward, and all because of this recon day back in 2007. 

It wouldn't be the last time a GTDRI inspired Trans Iowa routes either.

Next: The 2007 GTDRI

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