Sunday, April 09, 2023

The GTDRI Stories: The Aftermath Of The Seventh GTDRI

From Steve Hed's personal bike as seen at Interbike 2013
 "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!

The months following the 2012 GTDRI were filled with the plans for the following year's big production I was putting on for the ninth Trans Iowa event. I had done the 8th Trans Iowa all alone, for the most part, and while I had more help for 2013, I also put a lot more pressure on myself to raise the bar for that event. This was my number one goal for event production. The GTDRI was far down the list of my priorities.

This was the time period where I was still running three separate review and opinion websites and this blog. If I recall correctly, once again I was considering not doing a GTDRI and at most, I was going to recycle an old course just to get that out of my hair while I tried to do all this other stuff. Oh! And by the way, I was raising a family as well. Whew! 

Originally for the 2013 route I had floated out the idea of doing the same route from Echo Valley State Park we had done for two years in a row in 2009 - 2010. That would be easy for me since (a) I had the cues all in hand and (b) I had a score to settle with that route since I did not finish it in 2010. But somewhere along the line in 2013, early on anyway, I was contacted by Ari Andonopoulous who was the "El Presidente'" of the loose-knit group of cyclists in Illinois known as the "Slender Fungus Cycling Association". 

Working up the entire back-end to run this challenge took up a lot of headspace in 2013

I had related to Ari that I was feeling overwhelmed and that I was just going to recycle an old course for the GTDRI, or not do it at all. He was saying to me that they had a fantastic experience in Eastern Iowa in Jackson County and that maybe we should ride there. So, an agreement was made.

 I was also embroiled in what would become a big turning point in gravel oriented cycling. It was after Trans Iowa v8 took place in 2012 that things started to turn in regard to the cycling industry which I have related in past "GTDRI Stories" posts. 

But besides the oncoming slew of gravel oriented products, there were a lot of things which were happening to affect me directly. This switch into gear when it came to the gravel scene advanced my move toward covering more gravel stuff here on the blog. I also was getting deeper in the weeds with gravel stuff on my "Gravel Grinder News" site, which was being revamped and turned into a proper website via my friend in SoCal, Grannygear. 

The site header for '13 by my son Jacob.

With the overlap with my MTB and general cycling website work, I was at peak business activity with regard to writing, reviewing, and generally just trying to keep up. That's where I reached a point of needing to back off from some things and start simplifying my life. 

So, in the meantime, the Slender Fungus folk were ready and willing to keep the GTDRI alive. Ari Andonopoulous promised me I needn't worry about a thing. He and a few friends reconned a course, did the cues, and actually had a great idea in that they were going to offer two courses, a shorter, easier grind and a big 135 mile monster which was set to take in a lot of the bluff country along the Mississippi River near Sabula, Iowa and South of Dubuque. 

It felt really weird not having anything to do with a ride with my "name" on it, but it was a big relief to me knowing I did not have to think about putting that deal on again, even if I did a route I'd done previously. 

Ari gave me periodic updates and enthusiastic reports on his recon rides. It was looking as though things were being handled very well. I don't recall now that I had much, if any worries going into this one. Which, as I have stated above, was a good thing as I was stupid busy with other things anyway. 

Next: The lead-up to the eighth GTDRI.  

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