Saturday, February 03, 2024

Memories Of Trans Iowa

Some bitter memories, some sweet. (Image by C. Godfrey)
The other day a friend of mine said to me in a message on social media that he had an unexpected Trans Iowa memory moment. Just a random flash that brought up a well of emotions. 

I don't expect a lot of people to understand that. Not as far as the Trans Iowa part goes, that is. Of course, only about 500 people ever got to experience Trans Iowa as a rider over its fourteen year run. It isn't like there are a lot of people's memories across the gravel universe regarding Trans Iowa to be remembered. Not like, say, the 2023 running of Unbound, as an example. I think they had 4,000 folks just in that event alone.

But the rarity of the memories and the number of folks that share them maybe makes them that much more special in 2024. You know that if something pops up in your mind that it is a unique thought if it has to do with being involved in that event. 

I can empathize with my friend there. I understand those that feel that way about Trans Iowa. I guess my feelings are even more rare, since I shared running the event with very few people. My feelings about the memories are all over the place, but maybe different than those who rode in the events.

It's always been about the people: (L-R) GT, Patrick Hummeny, Dave Kerkove from T.I.v1.

First of all, I remember the people I met and that were involved in Trans Iowa with me. That's always number one for me. Those relationships - some extremely brief, some long-lasting, have enriched me beyond belief and are a treasure to me. I have learned a lot, been blessed, and continue to be learning and being blessed to this very day by all those I met through Trans Iowa. 

Trans Iowa Clinic, 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Then I think about being free. Free from worrying, thinking about, and doing stuff regarding Trans Iowa. I tell you this again - it was a 365 day a year weight on my mind. Sleepless nights, stressing out, random thoughts haunting me at random times throughout the year. 

I don't miss that. I don't have fond memories of that stuff. I am happy to forget anything regarding that. is hard to. See, a lot of that is connected inextricably to the people and those good memories. So, I do remember that stuff sometimes and it is a motivation to me to not do event promotions anymore, to be honest.

So, in that way I do not feel there are many I can commiserate with that would know how it is to be in that position. It is why I hold anyone that puts on an event in high regard. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe some folks do "get it". I cannot say...

Current Iowa Wind and Rock promoter, Steve Fuller at T.I.v9

 I can say that Trans Iowa seems to be more forgotten as time goes by. Of course, there is Iowa Wind and Rock which followed in Trans Iowa's footsteps. Perhaps that makes remembering Trans Iowa unnecessary. It is ironic that IWAR has an ode to Trans Iowa on its facing page on its website, but that only reminds me that most people don't read that stuff. At least it would seem that way. Other than the random message I get from a former Trans Iowa rider or volunteer from time to time, Trans Iowa seems to have been forgotten by most gravel riders. That's my feeling, anyway.

An image from a Trans Iowa course recon years ago.

That doesn't bother me in the least though. I think I made peace with all my Trans Iowa "baggage" via my writing up of my thoughts in the "Trans Iowa Stories" series here on this site. Through writing that series I was able to come to terms with the good, the bad, and the memories and feelings left over after I closed out that chapter of my life in April of 2018. 

So, from my perspective I haven't had any of those feelings surprise me at random times with grief over what was once a huge part of myself and my life. Maybe I get a bit of a wistful smile when I come across an image while researching this blog that I have not seen in a while. I might sit and contemplate a friend's recollection when that happens, as it did recently. I might remember with fondness a person that is brought to mind via social media, or as it was recently, via a Christmas card, ironically. 

Cards sent in via "snail mail". That's a memory! A time gone by, in more ways than one. Much like my Trans Iowa life. 

Got any Trans Iowa memories you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!


MG said...

There are so many TransIowa memories I have, both as a participant and as part of your team putting the event on. Sitting in the blue Subaru in the middle of the night, in the rain, looking at the thermometer reading 33 degrees…. Wondering if our race leader would die from hypothermia because of how little he was wearing. That’s a tough one to forget.

The feeling of elation crossing the finish line at TIv5 is a priceless memory for me. My finish record at TI wasn’t the best, so I have to cherish that one time I actually got ‘er done. Contrast that to my record of 7 out of 8 DK/Unbound 200 finishes and 1 for 1 at the XL, and you can see how challenging TransIowa really was. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a stronger rider later in the season. I’m not sure…

But you can rest assured that all of us who participated in TransIowa in any way, shape or form, has distinctly vivid memories of the experience. I promise you that. My memory isn’t all that good, but those memories remain.

Thank you for all of them.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG - Thank you. Love ya Brother!

Capncavedan said...

I loved everything about Trans Iowa - the highs, the lows, the people, the uncomplicated but incredibly difficult task of just riding a bicycle for a day and a half on back roads in springtime in Iowa.

My favorite memory is from v10, where I spent what felt like hours riding on the edge of the storm as it crept over the route. The wind, smell of rain, lightning creeping ever closer, and (at that point in the route) B-road after B-road after B-road to try to get across before they got wet. I don't think I've ever felt more alive! I got a flat I couldn't get fixed, got soaked in cold sideways rain, and had to drop out maybe 240 miles in - a bittersweet ending that still bugs me, but a totally fitting ending for a TI attempt!

I loved the event and thank you for putting so much into it for so long, GT.

Guitar Ted said...

@Capncavedan - Thank you for sharing those memories, Dan! I appreciate your grit and attitude - not only shown at Trans Iowa, but when I had the opportunity to ride with you at Odin's and of course, when you volunteered for TIv13.

I hope all is well with you and you family!