Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trans Iowa 2012

Failure pile.

At around 6:30 Saturday night, I sent Charles a text message.

"Eating delicious Chinese right nowI asked, but they don't deliver to B roads.  Sorry."

He didn't mention it at the finish line.  I'm sure he had a well rehearsed comeback in mind, but I don't think he could lift his leg high enough to kick me in the crotch.

I was eating Chinese at 6:30 on Saturday because once again I had failed to finish Trans Iowa.  That morning I had teamed up with Courtney and together we drove through 20mph headwinds, soft peanut butter roads, fresh gravel and eventually a seemingly endless stream of rolling hills.  I was determined to make the first checkpoint before the cut this time and we rode the bubble for the first 40+ miles, pouring every bit of strength into a 10mph average.  We made it in time, and had even managed to bank an 18 minute buffer, but the damage had been done.  We used up our savings at the convenience store in town and even borrowed a few minutes from the next checkpoint.  We set off feeling decent, but it wasn't long before I realized I didn't have it in me to reach the next checkpoint in time.  60 miles into the race I urged Courtney to go on without me.  I'd rather ride alone than cost him a shot at making it through.  A couple miles down the road he started pulling ahead.  I sat up and watched him head off.  A short while later I stopped to call Deb and asked her to pick me up in Hedrick, conveniently located about 100 miles into the course.  I set off again, eventually joining up with Dave Mable and the two of us finished out our Trans Iowa centuries together at the Hedrick city limits.

Charles, on the other hand, was not eating Chinese because he was too busy pollinating the landscape with his awesomeness.  He had ridden the race with the fast folks up near the front and managed a 6th place finish in his first Trans Iowa, despite losing his rear derailleur near the end.  Two racers passed him as he walked the last seven miles of the course.  I told him I couldn't believe he hiked the last stretch.  He responded with a hoarse "what else was I supposed to do?"

So I sat there eating my shrimp and scallops while reflecting on the day.  I DNF'd for the second year in a row, but this time I wasn't upset about it.  I had improved significantly on last years performance and managed to push myself harder than I thought I could.  Even though I was spent after 60, I still eeked out a hundy on course with a little help from Dave.  I felt like I had walked away with a couple minor victories in the wake of failure. 

This race is bigger than I am, but I'll keep coming back.  Someday I'm hoping steady improvement and a bit of luck with the weather will finally see me through.  Until that happens, I'll keep scratching for those little wins.  After all, the only way I can truly fail is to stop trying.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Once upon a time there was a story called failure.  I sure hope the sequel is better...

Here we go again.  This time I'm considerably more prepared, although my April schedule has been wonky and I haven't got a lot of quality riding in over the last few weeks.  Still, training up until this month has been good and I'm feeling positive about where I'm at. 

For those who want to follow the race, Guitar Ted will be posting audio updates on his blog.  Don't count on hearing my name since I'll be hanging in my normal spot at the back of the pack, but at least it's updates.  If you want to know whether or not I'm still rolling, check my Twitter feed.  I doubt you'll see much from me during the race but I'll post when I'm done, DNF or otherwise.

Trans Iowa V8 Audio updates
Twitter (@10ftmidget)

Have a good weekend, folks.  Think of me every so often and realize that if I'm lucky...

 I'm still out there.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Exclusive! My Secret Cross-Training Methods Exposed!!!

Even among the crazy world of gravel grinders, Trans Iowa stands alone as the pinnacle of manliness.  Such a race requires training far beyond the norm, so five days ago I hitched a ride down to the Gulf of Mexico on the back of a flatbed hauling the next batch of champion fighting chickens, fashioned a raft out of no less than 12 live sea turtles and one slightly annoyed marlin and set sail for the Yucatan Peninsula.  What follows is a look inside my never before seen by man, super secret cross training program.  What you are about to see is so powerful, I guarantee you will grow at least three new chest hairs by the time you are done reading.

Are you ready?

Prepare to have your eye holes rocked!

Laying waste to the entire shoreline with a power flex shockwave.  Those waves are moving back out to sea, fleeing from my awesome might.

Destroying the clouds with mind bullets.  I keep my electrolyte levels high by filtering ocean water through my leg hairs. 

I'm not reading, I'm absorbing the essence of a thousand mighty redwoods.

During training, I subsist on a strict diet of fermented ox blood and local water.  I find the ox blood to be rich in minerals and raw, visceral power.  I drink the water because I like to break a gastrointestinal sweat too.

  Every training plan should include a recovery session.  Here, I relax in a hammock hand kitted for me by the mermaid I seduced with my superfresh dance moves.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Got up Sunday morning at 12:30 in the AM, picked up Charles at 1:30 and arrived at Courtney's house in West Des Moines at around a quarter to four.  The three of us rolled out shortly after 4am for the Missouri border.  Details?  You betcha...

  • Trip stats:
    • 210 miles in the bank, 120ish being gravel.
    • 18 hours and 30 minutes to get the job done.
    • My best guess:  four to five miles of hike-a-bike and a couple dead ends.  
    • I believe our final B road count was 11.  I lost track though.
    • 7400ft of climbing through 192 miles, but sure felt like more.  That's on pace with Trans Iowa though.  I didn't get the last bit because my Garmin died, but it was fairly flat.
  • How I held up:
    • Pretty zen for the first 80 miles or so.  Didn't even mind the B road hiking.  Then I bonked a little.  Then I recovered.  Then I bonked big time.  I couldn't eat or drink much of anything the next 110 miles without wanting to throw it back up.  The lone exception was the frozen beef and bean burrito I tossed in my frame bag for a later treat.  That thing was mighty tasty when I finally got to it.
    • Physically I held up pretty well.  Legs felt fine until the end and my body was doing well.  Contact points were getting sore, but were still manageable.  My pace dropped a little after my first minor bonk, but not significantly.  I dropped off a bit after the big one, but picked it back up and did well enough the rest of the way that I'm not too worried about Trans Iowa, barring nasty conditions of course.
    • I got really cranky on the return trip.  I blame the bonk because I'd like people to think I'm not a grumpy asshole, but I should still try to not be like that at Trans Iowa.  Otherwise no one will want to ride with me.
  •  Random nuggets from the trip:
    • It was kind of the drunken, shirtless rednecks to take a moment away from incoherently yelling at each other while trying to free their mud-stranded jeep at 5 in the morning to remind us that we're "bicycle faggots".  Charles was nice enough to exchange pleasantries, mostly commenting on how much fun they must be having.  Courtney waxed something fancy about having a vehicle that could be carried out of a mud pit.  More concerned with the fact that they were drunk, greatly outnumbered us and still had a vehicle free, I kept my mouth shut and went to unholster my dickhead repellant.  Thankfully, shorter attention spans prevailed and I didn't have to ruin a perfectly good frame pump.
    • Derby, IA is a depressing town.  Main street is a post office buried in a row of abandoned and decaying brick buildings.
    • After trudging through the sixth or seventh B road, Courtney turned to his Garmin to try to reroute any other hike-a-bike sections.  Unfortunately, the Garmin was even more sadistic with its reroutes, leading Courtney to claim that it was stuck in Guitar Ted mode.  It was known as the Guitarmin the rest of the trip.
    • Gummy worms and candy orange slices aren't good endurance food.  
    • We found out that people will drive a long way for cheap cigarettes.  The lady working at the gas station in Missouri told us that she's had people drop $1000 in one trip on tobacco.  Ironically, those are the same people that think it's crazy to spend $1000 on a bicycle.  I can see their point though.  Bicycles don't burn all that well.
    • Charles has gone from being destroyed by a metric in mid-October to doing sprints at the end of a double because he wasn't feeling worked over enough.  I have to face the fact that I'll never be able to put the hurt on him again.  That makes me a sad panda.  By the way, he took third in a gravel race the day before. 
    • Regardless of how tired or lousy you feel when crawling out of bed, watching the sun rise through the mist on a quiet country road is worth the early start.  Always.