Crap happens. Leading up to Transiowa it was the weather. People freaking out, biting their nails, and discussing there fears with friends. Me, I just remembered what I tell the love of my life in these situations. Everybody poops. Everybody will have the same weather, same course, same opportunities for failure and success. I just wanted to hop on my bike and push myself with no regrets.
Four am in the morning and there is unexpectedly no rain. Actually, just a fog in the air and surprisingly decent temps. The roll out was good and Jason Buffington (great guy, DBD member, and fantastic Transiowa recap) warned me that the first section of gravel was nasty. Sure enough the only halfway passable lines seemed to be the deep tire tracks of our pace car. That lead out to more gravel that was just plain really soft. So off we are, at too early in the morning, on wet/soft gravel. The spray was bad and the fast track hard to see, so I spent my time on the front where it was much easier. I was actually having fun.
Soon enough the lightning could be seen in the distance, and then right next to us. Night turned into day and back into night many times over. White streaks would strike the ground all around us and across the sky. This was made only more fun with the rain. Everybody poops I thought as I rode on the front. I was really, truly having fun.
The skies subsided some and a group of about nine of us were left on the front as we passed through the first checkpoint 45 miles in. This of course was after walking my bike on some sweet Iowa mud, er 'B' roads for a mile all the while cursing "Bango Ted's" name in humor. Last year's champ flatted soon after and Gorilla (yes, that is his real last name and also a previous champ, but I don't know what year because I am not a TI historian like many at the race seem to be) waited. We backed down our pace as it was swift and we knew that the night held more of the same from that morning. The roads were mushy and slow. The tops of the slow, slow climbs were met with mashed piles of rocks and mud for some reason and they were nearly unrideable. I was still having fun.
(As we slowed with Joe and John off the back. I think Jason on the left, Eki on the right, and others hidden by my big head)
Meiser and Gorilla would join back on, but during another Iowa slip and slide road they got a gap as we stopped and took pictures. We let them go as they seemed destined to go harder than the pace we had settled into. Through attrition our group was down to Me, the DBD'rs from Duluth (Tim Ek, Jason Buffington, and Charlie Farrow), and Sean Mailen. A hearty bunch that I certainly enjoy spending time with, and I was having fun.
(Hey guys, stop pushing for a sec and smile for the camera!)
Well, about 80 miles in I had a mechanical that caused my rear wheel to lock up. The boys stopped, but continued on since it would be awhile, if at all. As soon as I remounted my body let me know it was not too happy with the fact that it was only given about 50 ounces of water in the last 5 or 6 hours. Weakness, dizziness, and confusion reigned supreme as I drank and ate while chasing my compatriots. Without a response to my knock on a rural front door, I attacked someone's garden hose with my thirst. I drank close to 50-60 ounces on the spot, filled up the bottles again, and then resumed the chase into the relentless headwind. I was in a bad way.
Almost an hour later my chase would end at a BP gas station in Pella where I was met by my previous partners. More calories and liquids were consumed in an effort to get out of my funk. Discussion revolved around the center idea that this was tough. We were getting worked over. Our departure soon happened and my funk had gotten worse. I was in a much worse way.
This is where I entered my "Dark Place". I sat on the back of our train that was joined by Lance Andre. Everything seemed to hurt, I was tired, and the legs were weak. That is when the Devil sat on my shoulder helping to figure out a way to quit and keep some self respect. I would ask the Angel on the other shoulder to intervene, but he was very quiet. So there I sat, on the back constantly telling the Devil to shut it's pie hole. You usually reach this point at some stage in a race like this. Maybe more than once. After all, everybody poops. I was in my Dark, Dark Place.
It was walking on another 'B" road that I noticed my attitude perked up and some how we lost Sean. Soon my body would respond with in kind to my mind's reversal. I was back to 100% finally and going good. I would proceed to got to the front for long periods and make up for my wheel sucking. I was having fun again.
We rode. The partly cloudy sky left and dark clouds were taking its place. The wind slowed and you could see the predicted bad weather about to hit. Lance would pull off of our group. As we rolled in to checkpoint 2, 131 miles and about 12 hours from the start, we knew the soft roads and fatiguing legs were taking their toll on our pace. Mathematically we couldn't foresee any possibility of anyone arriving at checkpoint 3 on time. The weather was going to be worse, our legs more tired, and the roads would seemingly only get slower. Meiser and Gorilla seemed also worse for wear as we pulled into checkpoint 2 just 7 minutes behind them. I was now conflicted.
The DBD'rs and I pulled the plug for fear of putting ourselves in a needlessly dangerous situation. J-No would pick us up in What Cheer (yes, that is the town's name) and we would spend much of that night together, eating and drinking. The race would be canceled very soon after we stopped for the very reasons we had given. There were some that continued past the checkpoint, but it seemed even more called for a ride back. Several stopped as the course had simply broken them. The rest just simply could not make the time check. Physically, I was glad with the fact I would have been able to continue without concern for my ability to pedal. I was happy.
(The view of checkpoint 2 from the Casey's as rain poured down and litter flowed by the window)
So that's that. I have not sworn off another run next year. I have no regrets with my race, I rode strong, and had fun. Those were my only goals going in.
Now, maybe you should get back to work. Especially you Gunnar, you must spend half your day just looking for material and then putting it on your blog.