This weekend I finished Trans Iowa, a 320 mile ultracycling race that took me 29 hours to complete. I hate writing about the races I participate in because I end up sounding like a douche and its really hard to distill an entire day of riding into a cohesive narrative of just a few paragraphs (via being a shitty writer). That’s doubly true for Trans Iowa, an event that’s so long that I’m pretty sure I’ve already forgotten entire segments of it. While its probably impossible for me to offer a compelling recap of my race, there’s at least one big thing I took away from this weekend. Nearly every race I take part in is touted as a ‘self supported’ event. I think the sentiment behind ‘self supported’ is admirable (and the alternative truly wretched), but it’s also total bullshit! After Trans Iowa I have never been more aware of how much I really depend on others during these events. Early on Saturday morning another racer remarked to me that having company during the Trans Iowa’s mandated all-nighter was ‘critical’. This proved to be incredibly accurate, and I’m confident that I wouldn’t have finished if it weren’t for the eight other racers with whom I rode through the night.
I was lucky enough to cross paths with some seriously fit riders and capable Trans Iowa veterans. After a dinner break at mile 180 we coalesced into a group of nine and rode together through the remainder of the night. As the sun set and we pulled on extra layers for the long night it was obvious that we were all starting to wear. If it wasn’t for the leadership and navigation of a few members of our group, I would have been in trouble. By the time we rolled into a Kwik Trip at 2am, 290 miles in, I was almost ready to throw in the towel. Nearly hypothermic and unable to eat, I considered taking a nap in the Trucker’s lounge and calling my girlfriend for a ride. In the time it took me to choke down some chocolate milk Mike Johnson and already purchased pairs of gloves to pass out to the group (as well as a Mountain Dew sweatshirt that he wore to the finish!). He grabbed me by the shoulder. smiled, and asked if I was ready to go. The unspoken message was ‘get your shit together, ‘ and somehow I did.
Over the last forty miles our group drifted apart, some getting a second wind and attacking the final giant hills with alarming speed. I limped along, finishing at the back. Still, shaking hands with everyone as we sprawled at the finish line and cracked beers, it was clear that we had finished Trans Iowa together. Mike, Paul, Tim, Paul, Chris, Jay, Steve, Charles, it was a pleasure. Thanks for getting me to the barn!
Finally, if it weren’t for the support of one person I wouldn’t have made it to Grinnell in the first place. Thank you Alex for putting up with my obnoxious training schedule, hanging in Grinnell all weekend, and putting up with my sleep deprived rantings on the drive back home. I love you!