“TransIowa is a cruel beast. Proud to say I rolled all 340 miles, but finished past the time cutoff, so it’ll officially go down as a DNF for me. Lots of ups and downs over 35+ hours:
I pushed too hard to keep up with a group at the start, then fell off the back and spent an hour looking at my handlebars while people passed left and right. Stopped a couple times wanting to puke, but mostly just soft pedaled and tried to eat and drink for 15 miles. I still made checkpoint one in time and was starting to feel better.
I rode with other groups off and all day and really felt good getting to checkpoint 2. Had a couple hours in the bank I think at that point and was liking my chances of finishing, but still over half the race to go. I stuck with a small group for awhile going into the night, but eventually we broke up and I went ahead before I mini bonked again in the middle of the night. The group passed me and I stopped and stuffed some food in and took a 20 minutes nap in the ditch. Best 20 minutes of sleep I’ve had in a long time.
I think with around 80 miles to go, I still had some time in the bank, but knew it was going to be close, so I really tried to just be efficient and keep rolling on. With 50 to go, I was doing alright, but the wind and hills were getting worse and taking a toll. Then we hit the fresh gravel. I’ve never seen so much fresh gravel in my life, and it was literally just a few days old, so not packed in at all. Alot of times the grass on the edge of the road was a better option. Still I forged on, but I was losing time. My time bank compared to a 10mph average over the remaining miles was disappearing. 1 hr, 45 minutes, 30 minutes, 15, and finally at an intersection about 18 miles from the finish it was done to zero. I had a little under 2 hours to finish and only 18 miles to go, but I knew if the course conditions didn’t change, there was no way. I quickly pulled out my phone and the course cue sheets and made the sad realization it was just going to me more of the same and I just wasn’t going to be fast enough. I laid in the grass for a few minutes and Crystal came rolling down the hill. We had ridden together off and on for the last 15 hours or so and after mulling it over and feeling sorry for ourselves for a bit we decided we’d take our time and finish this course anyway.
We each sent Mark, the race director messages letting him know what our plan was and we pedaled off into the wind and hills. That last 18 miles took about 3 hours, which included a quick stop at a house where the homeowner was outside and offered us water. As we were filling up our bottles, we talked a bit and mentioned all the fresh gravel the county had just put down. The guy had a sheepish grin and said “Yeah, I work for the county.” All I could do was laugh at that point. A few miles later we saw Mark pull up driving the course backwards checking in the last few riders out there. Super nice guy and we chatted for a bit and continued on.
By the time we got to the park were the finish line was, obviously everyone was long gone, but there was a definite sense of relief and accomplishment. We took each others pictures and rode back to our cars and that was that.
I’m glad I had the chance to toe the line with so many incredibly tough people. 340 miles of gravel is no joke. I was happy to pull from my adventure racing experience and although I was probably under trained physically, I am proud to have suffered through and finished.
Mark Stevenson does a phenomenal job with this event, from the pre race meat up, to the cue cards, great volunteers, and not to mention creating a completely new 340 mile course every year for a race with no entry fee. Thanks again Mark.