Trans Iowa: The Stories

As with any cycling event, after the fact all you have are the stories. Trans Iowa race reports, Facebook posts, and communications shared with Guitar Ted are the legacy of the past Trans Iowa events. here are some that have been gathered which you can read to get a feel for what went down at Trans Iowa. Click on the blue colored text to go to each report link.


Cut And Paste
Race Reports From Social Media

Kate Ankofski wrote the following up on her Facebook timeline:
#transiowav13 race report
The weekend officially kicked off when I ran into Guitar Ted, aka Mark Stevenson, in the hotel lobby. I felt like I was meeting Santa. He’s the type of person who makes you want to do well – for yourself, for him, and for the sake of the event. If I felt like an amateur going into this race, shaking GT's hand left me feeling a little closer to "making it."
Minutes later, I got a text from Andrea Cohen to meet her and some of the other women cyclists down at Bikes to You. Seabiscuit and I had our pictures taken, and I had the opportunity to chat bikes with Brewer Bebe, Allie Corlett, and (briefly) Leah Gruhn. I’ve been following these ladies for a while now, and have so much to learn from them.
Next up was the Meat Up, where I signed my waiver in front of a giant grill where the athletes could cook steaks themselves. I got to meet Jamie Granquist in person for the first time while she was holding a giant piece of meat; what more could I have hoped for?
At our table were Matt Acker and Walter Zitz, two of the six cyclists who officially finished. Matt’s wife Jenny Scott Acker became a quick dear friend.
Though I was hoping to be asleep by 9 p.m., a last-minute rear light issue – which could have been easily prevented with a test run – led to an hour delay. I was exhausted from the four-hour rainy drive, and thought I’d sleep easily. Not so much.
At 2:45 a.m. my alarm went off. I had been wide awake, chilled and nauseous all night. I struggled to get dressed and wondered how I’d even make it to the starting line. Heather Fisch reminded me I’m stronger than I think I am, and tried in vain to get me to eat.
An hour later we were on the starting line, having watched the blinking red lights guide us into downtown Grinnell. I managed to swallow a Honey Stinger waffle just in time to have an issue with my bike computer and headlamp, both of which, again, avoidable.
For the weather I did manage to ride through, my kit was perfect. On the top, thin Smartwool long-sleeve baselayer, mid-weight Smartwool long-sleeve baselayer, Patagonia M-10 jacket. Windproof Buff around the neck, wool cap. On the bottom, Garneau shorts, Polartec fleece leggings, REI rain pants. Wool socks and Velocio winter shoe covers. Showers Pass gloves that I tore off a few miles in.
I found I enjoyed riding at night, alone. It’s so quiet, and there’s no time to be afraid: you have to focus on pedaling up hills you can’t see, guided solely by a few hundred lumens.
Still, the early miles were a challenge. Because of my poor headlamp positioning, I couldn’t read the cue card directions without stopping. Being a tad obsessive compulsive, sometimes I stopped multiple times to assure myself I was on the right track.
As I was making my way up one of the rolling hills, I was passed by a cyclist who warned me about the B road ahead, but promised tailwinds for most of the way to the first checkpoint. I was grateful for his words, and for those of everyone who passed – those who called out hello and shared mutual “Oh, just questioning life choices.” Guitar Ted had advised us to watch out for each other, and everyone I met did so readily.
Leading up to the B road, I made a few turns without seeing anyone else, and figured the bulk of riders were well past me now. But once I hit the mud, the blinking red lights of riders walking their bikes told me otherwise. It was one of the most memorable sights of the race for me, a minor victory of sorts: No, I wasn’t so far behind every last rider.
In hindsight, I may have made it to the first checkpoint in time if I hadn’t a.) taken so many pictures, b.) hadn’t tried in vain to get concrete out of my cleats, which never clipped back in after that first bit of muck, and c.) hadn’t called my mom while trekking up that B road. But I had only texted her “didn’t sleep” before the race, and knew she was worried sick. I told her my good news – that I was alive, that I hadn't barfed, and that I had passed a farm cat who, unfortunately, didn’t seem interested in following me back to Minnesota.
The next time I’d talk to my mom was a few hours later, when I DNF’d. By this time it was nearing 8 a.m., fifteen minutes from the cutoff, and I was more than ten miles behind. Cell service was sporadic, as were clear intersections where I knew Heather Fisch could come find me. When I found one bar of service and an intersection with a grassy section at mile 33, I called it. I hesitated to text Guitar Ted; I didn't want him to feel I'd wasted a lottery spot.
Despite this disappointment, I'm appreciative of the many firsts for me in this event. My first real race. My first attempt at an ultra. My first time setting my alarm for 2:45. My first time attempting something of this caliber with athletes of this caliber. My first time descending on muddy hills. My first time not falling while descending on muddy hills. My first time using an emergency bivvy. My first time causing Heather to think I was hypothermic, when I texted that I was in my orange bivvy, which my phone translated into “I'm in my orange bicycle.”
My first time learning that people who seem 100 percent more confident than I am aren’t necessarily mentally stronger.
My first time learning how badly I want this.
I will be forever grateful for all the inspiration and support I received leading up to this weekend -- from my family, friends, co-workers (who bought me a cherry chocolate cake that I managed to even share), and cycling community, especially Janie Hayes and Luke Kocher, whose Trans Am efforts last year were a huge reason I decided to give this cycling thing a try. I could never have imagined last June that a year later I'd have the support and advice and good cheer of TABR vets. It's a little mind-boggling.
And, again, thanks to Guitar Ted for putting on an event that makes you a better, stronger, more resilient person -- whether you officially finish, unofficially finish, or DNF while shivering in a fancy trash bag until your friend rescues you with a heated car and hotel lobby cinnamon rolls.