Saturday, April 20, 2024

It Has Been Ten Years Already?! Part 2

From the recon of Trans Iowa v10's course.

 Here's another tale I'd forgotten about concerning Trans Iowa v10 which happened ten years ago this month. Oh, and by the way, good luck to those riding in Iowa Wind and Rock today, tonight, and tomorrow!

If you missed the first tale, you can read that HERE.

One of the enduring facets concerning riding gravel in the Mid-West has to do with our unmaintained roads. Those (usually) dirt roads that leave you wondering if you've made a right choice by entering an event that uses them. The mystery of the dirt road has caused much wonder, consternation, and has been the hammer that forged a lot of people's characters over the past 20 years of gravel grinding. 

This all started when, back in 2005, I included, unwittingly, two miles of what we call in Iowa, a Level B Road. This was a feature that was expanded upon for the following year, but with copious amounts of moisture, it made the event unfinishable that year. The legend was born concerning muddy dirt roads and ever since then these roads have been a legendary part of several gravel events. 

A previously unpublished image by Jeff Kerkove from T.I.v2 showing riders dealing with mud from a Level B Road.

Of course, being the RD of Trans Iowa all those years, I got a LOT of queries concerning Level B roads and how to deal with them. The effects of putting these roads into my courses was weighed heavily and was not done willy-nilly by any means. Each section of dirt was carefully considered and work-arounds were usually in place in case things got really crazy. But even then, keeping the crazies happy by including these challenges was not easy as a LOT of people would cry foul as well. 

The whole thing with the Level B road madness came to a head in Trans Iowa v10's run-up as potential riders of the event were concerned that I would be putting in too many roads of dirt and doom and that this alone would prevent their finishing of Trans Iowa. Little did they know what would actually happen that year that would knock most of the field out, and it was not any dirt roads! 

Of course, the riders had no clue as the event approached. The focus for them was on what these roads, which I had said there would be 10 sections of in the event, one for each year of T.I.'s existence, would be on their efforts. One or two riders asked about how long it might take to traverse a Level B Road with a typical bike set up for Trans Iowa. Well, I took that as a challenge. 

From my test of 2014 to see how long it took to walk one mile of Level B Road.

I had a bike, my Raleigh Tamland Two, that was all set up for gravel travel, much as a Trans Iowa competitor might have a bike set up, and as fortune would have it, it was a rainy Spring. I had an opportunity to go down to Petrie Road's Level B Section, a prototypical Level B Road from the standpoint of how it had a hill, a flat section, sand, and mud when wet, so that I could actually time myself walking that section of road. That particular Spring the road was wet, muddy, unrideable, and so it was perfect for this test. 

Turns out that, at a moderately fast pace, it takes 20 minutes to walk a muddy mile of Level B Road. That was what I found, at any rate, and was what I reported to my riders for T.I.v10. How they used that information was up to them after that.

Naturally, as I alluded to above, it wasn't muddy Level B Roads that would knock riders out of the running that year. No, it was a mighty East wind, sideways rain in the night, and lots of miles. The Level B roads? Certainly, they played a part, but they were not the knock-out punch many were thinking that they could be that year. 

One more tale to go!

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