TransIowa V.V is now pretty much done and over if you've been listening to Ted over at his blog. From what I last heard about 15 of the 53 beginning riders either made it or making their way towards Williamsburg for the finish. Unfortunately, Bottke and I were not able to make as strong of a showing as we would have liked.
If you were following my attempt at Twittering throughout this past week concerning the final race preparations and then the few during the race itself some of this will be review. Hopefully this will add a little bit of depth to the last week that 140 characters can't quite do...
It's story time children, sit back and enjoy....
'adamlorenz... is trying to take bottkes advice and getting better sleep this week. monday night... not so much. tonight? we'll see... sleeping = training' This was from Tuesday. Brian and I had been exchanging a few texts, emails, and phone calls about last minute things we wanted to make sure we had in order. Since we knew that we wouldn't be in contention we were simply trying to work together as best we could to finish well. A few weeks prior we had also resolved that we were in it together: start together, finish together. No pride, simply go and hopefully feed off of one another. Also by this point of the week, I wasn't sleeping, thus the post. Actually, I was sleeping but I wasn't getting any rest. Making sure I had everything, having 3 flats in the last week had me worried about a mechanical during the ride and stress was at a level that I had not seen for a number of years. Any of my friends could attest to my rather, let's call it, 'interesting' behavior around them and with them this week.
'adamlorenz... heard of carb loading before an event? well... try electrolyte loading. game on!' As I had wrote about during my Barry Roubaix pre-ride/only ride that cramping became an issue. Cramping was something I have never had to really deal with before that. Sure I've had the occasional cramp after workout and events but never during. Since at this point I was still very much over thinking everything that was happening or could happen in the next few days. On the suggestion of a coworker I really pushed water and electrolytes. An interesting thing to note about this is pushing liquids often does not help sleeping since well I was getting up a lot to relieve myself but I can definitely say there were benefits to do this.
'adamlorenz... g-ted just made my day http://tinyurl.com/cejpto listen... and you'll know why/http://twitpic.com/495qo - peace of mind via new tires... only 3 days before the race. dang flats.' Listening to Mark's audio post about gravel conditions for the race definitely helped settle myself as to what to prepare for. Growing up in Iowa, everyone knows that in the spring, when Mother Nature decides it's time to rain... it rains. A LOT. Then after talking with Geoff, being that he's kind of a big deal and all, helped settle things. He hooked me up with some Bontrager CX 700x34 tires to rock for the race. I did break the golden rule of not changing things on your bike a week before a race but for how paranoid about my old tires suddenly getting a flat I couldn't afford to risk it.
'adamlorenz...http://twitpic.com/4b5l2 - To this... Dang! i love the bd1' Oh dang, product placement! But seriously folks. The guys at Ergon know exactly what their doing and who would doubt them... their German! Jeff hooked me up with this bag back in the fall for the specific use of Trans Iowa. Sure, I use it for commuting but only up until this race have I used it to it's fullest extent. If you're on the fence with one of these bags, jump and jump fast to your local dealer and get your hands on one. You won't regret it. Super comfortable, super reliable, and fits everything but the kitchen sink inside of it. The weight distribution with the Fink Link system alone allows the pack to be carried without interfering with movement, flexibility or adding any pressure points. I can't wait to get my hands on the BC3 next, which is really suited for commuting.
'adamlorenz... First moment of panic... Brian forgot a bag at home... we should be able to fix it' After arriving in Williamsburg, Brian and I were getting our bags and bikes together before the race meeting and well, Brian left his bag and jacket in Cedar Falls, a few hour drive away! Now, if it was me, at this point I would have simply would have found the largest silo and jumped. Brian doesn't freak out all that often and fortunately his sister in law came through in the clutch and got his stuff there by the time we got back from our race meeting.
'adamlorenz...http://twitpic.com/4ddf6 - Getting the bikes ready...' Ok ok, before you read the post, check out the linked picture. The picture is a bit blurry and my bike is on the left. Brian's on the right. Brian had one of the most interesting and creative bike set ups there. Sure, there were guys who rode Fargos, cross bikes, 29ers and the like. But not Brian. Brian took his fixie frame [lugged steel] and built up wheels, changed the crank, bottom bracket, and added a rear derailleur.... and oh hose clamped 5 bottles onto this bike. He easily had the heaviest bike in the field, fully built without any water in the bottles... 32 lbs!
Now the race updates...
I won't copy those over... but the 4am started did originally bother me a bit but in reality it wasn't all that bad. We ended up having Craig [one of the guys at my old shop, Brian's current] brother drive us all to the start line in his truck. We had 3 bikes in bed, 3 guys up front and me, with the bikes. Seriously awesome. For some reason those few minutes in the back really took away all the nervous energy I had when I woke up.
Mark started the race promptly, with his normal brand of humor and we took off. The lead group of riders did set up a pace that the other half of the group did not really take. Brian and I moved to the back keeping our approach of slow and steady being the best. I wish I would have been able to take a picture but seeing all the red taillights litter the gravel a head along with the light glow of the headlight because it was just an amazing sight. I remember turning to Brian pretty early on when it just dawned on me that, riding right then, was exactly why I loved to ride. The Iowa country side is quiet and the stars were out it was just great riding in the dark with no lighting except for your light and the occasional farm house. Riding gravel in the night is the way to go, often during the day when you can see that next big hill or the grade that you are on, your mind often gets the best of you where riding where you can only see as far as your light allows the rider to simply focus on each pedal.
We kept a solid pace to the first check point. My computer decided to work when it wanted to so I have no idea what exactly we were putting for the MPH but it was exactly where we wanted to be. We got into Washington, Iowa the first check point at 7:40am, 20 minutes before the cut off. Brian was able to get some tea at the coffee shop there to settle his stomach. We refilled, shed some layers and were on our way. Oh, I should mention that the volunteers rocked! Super encouraging, super laid back. Made for a stress free stop... that is until Brian and I decided begin the second leg.
We had some issues getting out of the town. The Q sheets where clear and I'm going to mark this one up to us not being able to navigate. If you look at the map below of what we road and zoom onto Washington you can see where there are 2 green arrows and a very short road between the two. Of course, then you will also see the read line not connecting the two and do a few circles. We ended up finding E. 5th and making our way hoping it would connect us up to where we should be. I believe we added about 4 miles in that little detour.
After this little mix up, we were cruising a few miles before we got back onto the gravel. Unfortunately right on the climb, I began to get the hint of a cramp on my left leg on the back of the thigh. We stopped, I threw down some gu blocks, a good amount of electrolytes and slid around on my seat and found a position that after a bit got it to go away. It was then that we started to encounter a good headwind. This of course, effects the pace that we were going at. We started to dip down below 10 mph which was not a concern because we both thought that we could then make it up on downhills and crosswind sections.
We started to realize [http://twitpic.com/4eprt - 67 miles in. pace slowing. dnf probable] that our pace was making the second checkpoint at 150 miles less and less likely. Brian and I mentioned it a time or two, and the seed was planted from there. We had gotten word in Washington that the route was going to be swinging back towards Williamsburg and that started to make more and more sense as logical end with all our stuff, Brian's wife and sister in law there. At the 71 mile mark, we stopped and really finalized the decision to end it. In consulting our Q sheets and Brian's handy cell phone we were narrowing down where the route was taking us exactly. This is where the picture at the top was taken [also marked on the map with the camera icon].
The ending was tough to get to. The final straight away on 280th was filled with a bunch of rolling hills that had a fair amount of grade to them, making the final 7 miles of our ride memorable. Being that my bike was dramatically lighter I was often able to pull away from Brian on the climbs and these were no different. Unfortunately one of the last hills my left leg decided to act up again. I got off the bike and the cramp intensified. And as timing would have it I had just run out of fluid and stretching did not do much to help. I was fortunate that unlike what has happened to me in the past when my leg cramped up badly, it went away once I was able to walk a bit. By the time I was on the top of the hill, I was able to saddle back up and ride the final few hills and finish on the bike.
Overall, Trans Iowa was a great experience. A learning time not only when on the bike but also how stress effects myself personally. I'm looking forward to setting forth a few more goals for this year which will probably entail a few more long gravel rides, all with the intention of coming back next year with better fitness and nutrition and outlook to finish it.
There are thanks that need to be given to quite a few people as I close:
-Mark Stevenson [G-Ted] and David Pals - You guys put on an amazing race and saying thank you is not nearly enough. You are both top notch men and friends. If anyone ever wonders how a race SHOULD be run, look no further than Trans Iowa and to you both. Your love for cycling and for your willingness to sacrifice family time and your own riding time to giving others the chance to do such an event is awesome.
- Jeff Kerkove and Ergon great product. Great resource and friend. Thanks for supplying me with a pack.
- Geoff, Keith, Michelle, Jeff, Tom, my guys at Mars Hill Students, my co-workers thank you for your support and simply putting up with me the last few weeks as 'crazy' Adam came out. Thank you for trying to keep my head on my shoulders when all I wanted to do was freak.
- Brian, my fellow Trans Iowa conspirator. You are a great friend and it was great to hang out for a few miles as we worked out how to solve all the worlds problems, or at least the Church's. Next year we will finish!
- Thanks to all the sponsors of the event. I don't think any of the riders did it for swag but we are greatful for everything you provided... Feepish, Garmin, Salsa, Surly, Ergon, Vassago Cycles, TwinSix, AdventureCorps, Rough Riders, bikepacking.net, CycleCity, Epic Designs, WEMBS, Snappy Caps, and Ritchey