Well, that's a wrap on Trans Iowa. After 14 editions, Guitar Ted decided that this year's race was the last one he would organize. So before I get into how my weekend went, I want to thank Guitar Ted for all the time and care he put into an event that never asked for an entry fee, an event that helped expand what many of us thought we were capable of, an event that inspired countless spin-offs, an event that was unapologetic in its difficulty. Thank you Guitar Ted. Thank you.
Instead of a blow-by-blow recounting of my time on the course, I thought I'd break it down by the numbers, telling a few anecdotes from an amazingly difficult weekend. I'll cut to the chase and let you know that I managed to finish Trans Iowa. I certainly had a bad patch, but on the whole it was an amazing experience. I count myself lucky to be a Trans Iowa finisher.
350 - Distance I covered, in miles, during Trans Iowa. This includes close to six bonus miles thanks to a couple navigational errors.
32.5 - Hours it took me to complete the course. This put me in co-9th place with James Nixon. While there was never any panic, we were only 1.5 hours inside the 34-hour time limit.
19,291 - Total feet of elevation gained over during Trans Iowa V14. I was glad that I had a 34/34 low gear though I'll admit that in the final 30 miles I was envious of James Nixon's 34/36 ratio.
12 - Approximate hours of nighttime riding. I was thankful for my Sinewave Beacon dynamo-powered headlight and Coast Portland headlamp. Together they provided ample light for safe passage through the chunky gravel. This was the first time that I've ridden through an entire night and I was really pleased that I didn't experience any sleepiness.
23 - The low temperature recorded on my GPS device during the night. This, compounded with a bad stomach that kept me from pushing hard, had me shivering and contemplating a DNF at 4:30am on Sunday. Thankfully Janna Vavra, Mark Lowe, and James Nixon came along as I walked up a climb. James gave me an extra jacket and we rolled on as a foursome. I nursed my stomach with sips and nibbles and we rode as a quartet through sunrise, buoying each other's spirits along the way.
4 - In miles per hour, this is perhaps the slowest speed at which I've ever attempted to draft another cyclist. James Nixon (seen in the video above) and I were trading pulls in the final 30 miles as we battled a brutal wind up hills and down them. Thanks for the cooperation James!
41 - Miles I stayed with the lead group. A couple miles from the first checkpoint I drifted off the back, catching them again briefly at CP1. It was fantastic to get a fast start and test my legs. I got the chance to joke around with Dan Hughes, discuss bikepacking and sunrises with Greg Gleason, note awkward matching kits with Stefano Tomasello, and stare in awe at the amazingly huge calves of eventual winner Luke Wilson.
150 - Approximate miles (a hazarded guess) that I shared with Mark Lowe. I really appreciated the camaraderie that Mark provided each mile we spent together. We discussed our backgrounds, professional, personal, and cycling related. I watched in awe as he consumed more calories than my addled brain could calculate. He calmly addressed any unforeseen issues and quietly, and not so quietly, encouraged anyone around during dark moments. Thanks a million Mark!
1 - Number of punctures I experienced. A passing truck kicked up a blinding dust storm just as Mark, Janna, and I started down a steep hill. I kept my line straight but found a jagged rock with my rear tire and worried that it might have cracked my rim. I was able to ride it to the top of the next rise, insert a plug, and pump it up. It held the rest of the way.
7,727 - Calories consumed, as calculated via heart rate and power. While eating 77 gels would have covered that deficit, I ate a combination of homemade ride food (see above), gas station sandwiches and pizza, chocolate milk, Clif bars, Honey Buns, peach gummy rings, GU Stroop Waffles, and GU Roctane gels. After emptying them of Tailwind Nutrition mix, I refilled my bottles and Camelbak with Gatorade, Arizona ice tea, and water. For the last 100-mile section I carried three packets of GU Roctane Summit Tea mix. At 2am, I asked the helpful Casey's convenience store employee for some hot water, added the tea mix and warmed myself while also getting electrolytes, calories, and caffeine. Divine!
175 - My normalized power for Trans Iowa. I used a Stages power meter, a heart rate strap, and a Wahoo Elemnt (with a cache battery to keep it running) to record the ride. My average power was 138 watts.
3H35M - Total stopped time (29H active time). I'm not particularly happy with that much inactive time, but that also includes walking a couple hills when I was on the verge of vomiting during the night. In the end, sometimes you need to take a few moments to collect yourself, let food settle, use the bathroom, etc. The stopped time also accounts for wardrobe changes, pee breaks, navigation checks, and punctures.
Countless - The number of thank you's I owe Guitar Ted, Matt Gersib, Mike Johnson, Jon Duke, Mark Lowe, James Nixon, Janna Vavra, Greg Gleason, Dan Hughes, Stefano Tomasello, all the Trans Iowa volunteers for their efforts and enthusiasm. And of course, a huge thank you to my wife who took advantage of Iowa's great gravel roads to get in some big rides while still being "on call" for me during the race. She also carted my broken body home to Colorado, driving most of the way while I nodded in and out of consciousness.