Monday, April 25, 2011

Trans Iowa V7 off the Bucket List

I am not in this picture but thought it showed how the riders looked early on in the race.

Well this time the weather did not kick my butt. The endless rolling Iowa hills and the too numerous to count mud roads did but I kicked it right back and in the end I came out on top. As a note to self I will not be giving TI the chance to break the tie.

Just a quick update then I will post pictures and the whole story later this week.

I tossed and turned all night stressing about every little thing from food, hydration, clothing, the bike you name it popped into my head. You know you are over stressed when you try to think about work just to calm you down. The race started pretty controlled as I rolled along with the lead group of about 40. The gravel was soupy from Friday's rain so the gravel slime was flying. No sense in wearing glasses. After just a few miles you could not find a clean area on your gloves or shirt to wipe the grit out of your eyes. Stayed with the group for 30 miles when the tempo up the hills started to catch up with me. Backed it off and rode with a couple other guys to check point 1, after 53 miles, at around 8:30 am with 45 minutes to spare. 8 of us rolled out together and stay as a group to the next check point at 8:15 pm after 177 miles total miles, 1:45 ahead of the cut-off. After that the speed dropped and it would take over 17 hours to cover the next 150 miles of the course. The nasty mud roads really slow you down. Three riders pushed on while 5 of us from the group stopped for breakfast at 6:00 am at the Casey's in North English and then the push to Grinnell for a 1:25 pm finish. 14th of the 18 finishers with a total time of 33:25.
The route went from Grinnell, Baxter, Montour, Treir, Dysert, Norway, Belle Plain, North English, Banes City and then Grinnell. Click here to view the map. There were a few other little towns along the way that I did not see the name and they were so small if you blinked you missed them, even on a bike. Go to for updates and some audio feeds from the race.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Trans Iowa Revenge

Tomorrow I will be getting up at 3:00 am to head for the 4:00 am start of the Trans Iowa 7. For those unaware of this event it is a 320ish mile gravel and dirt road race in central Iowa starting and ending in Grinnell. The rest of the route will not be revealed until Friday night and then they only reveal the first 53 miles to check point number 1. If you arrive by the cut-off time you get the cue sheets to the next checkpoint at mile 177. Arriving at the second check point by the cut-off time gets you the cue sheets for the rest of the route. The overall time cut-off is 34 hours. If at anytime you decide to quit you are on your own to find a ride back to Grinnell.

This has to be one of the harder races in the Midwest. If the miles don't get you the lack of support and not knowing where the next re-fueling stop is located will. For some great reading go to You can read stories about the past races and somewhere you can get a link to radio broadcasts. Monday or Tuesday I will post the story and hopefully some pictures.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pictures from the 300K Brevet

300 K  2011

          Mike Doyle,       Jim Yost,       Larry Ide,             Joe Mann, Jay Yost,    Paul Carpenter, Doug McLerran, Matt Levy


Larry Ide  0409111125b

Larry’s usual diet             Paul looks good in my vest.  Even after RAAM still taking care of him

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PBP Brevet Series

The Big Dog's, out of the Quad Cities, are once again hosting a Paris-Brest-Paris (or PBP) Brevet series. The series consists of a 200K, 300K, 400K and 600K and when completed qualifies the rider for entry into the 2011 addition of the historic ride. The series runs from early April to early June. RUSA is the governing body of the Brevets held through-out the country.

What is a Brevet compared to a race? This RUSA web page defines Brevet and Randonneur pretty well. Brevet's are not a race, the time cutoff is close to 10 mph. There are no awards for first place, all finishers are treated equally and usually the results are posted alphabetically. During a brevet if your riding partner has a mechanical problem or wish to take a "nature" break, add or shed a jacket then you stop and wait. If someone is struggling you let them draft and maybe back the pace off a little. You don't see that during a race. Don't get me wrong there are "racers" who enter brevet's and cannot resist the temptation to push the pace. Many times they will pay for it down the road especially during the 400 and 600K.

The 200K on April 2nd had 23 finishers from all over the Midwest. See results. Fellow Melon City Bike Club members Mike Doyle and Joe Wies joined me for the 6:00 am start in Eldridge Iowa. Mike has done a couple of brevet's in past years but this was Joe's first. We rolled out into the pre-dawn morning with a nice group of 11 of us. The route head west to Bennett, south to Wilton, the west to Nichols. The wind was gently blowing out of the NE so the wind would not be much of a factor. The pace was more controlled then any brevet I have ever done. We rolled along in a nice double pace line chatting as the miles rolled by. It was a mini RAAM reunion with Paul Carpenter and Jay Yost. Paul was a rider last year and Jay and I were on his support crew. It was good to catch up on how life and cycling had been treating them. Larry Ide (crazy Larry) was also in the group. I have ridden several long rides with Larry over the years and it is always nice to have him along. Fellow Trans Iowa participant Jeremy Frye was also out getting some training miles in for the big ride on April 23. The ride went without a hitch until 5 miles after the turnaround on highway 70 between the Nichols turn and F70. This stretch of road is pretty beat up and it looks like they tried to fix it by putting a thin layer over the top. That layer did not stick. With the variations in the surface color it is hard to notice pot holes. The 11 of us were riding two abreast when a pot hole snuck up on us. As the leaders tried to dodge the hole the riders behind were scrambling/panicking. this resulted in the back riders running into the riders in front of them. Two riders got tangled and one went down. As we slowed and circled back to survey the damage I hoped it was not Mike of Joe. It was both of them. Joe went down and Mike got ran into. It looked like Mike's rear skewer met Joe's front spokes and Joe's front skewer met Mike's rear spokes. The result was a really bent spoke for Joe and a broken spoke for Mike. Joe also had a nice scrap on his knee. We were able to fix Joe's but not Mike's wheel. We managed to get the wheel to stop rubbing the brakes but was really close to the frame. As we neared Muscatine Mike decided it was not worth risking ruining his frame so he headed home.

Shortly after saying good-bye to Mike we started working our way into the looming northeast breeze tha thad picked up as the day progressed. The first stretch was pretty protected but the two undulating sections from Wilton to Bennett were wide open. Keeping a group together in a cross wind is hard enough, but toss in a few rollers and it soon becomes "everyman for himself" trying to stay in the draft. Our shrunken lead group of five rolled into Bennett with a huge sigh of relief knowing the last 26 miles would be all tailwind. At this point I decided to wait for Joe and the rest of the shattered group before heading out. The last section was at a nice conversational pace and a great way to end a ride.

Total time was just under 8 hours with waaayyy to much time off the bike. Next up the 300K brevet as the last training ride before Trans Iowa.