Without any careful thought, I signed up for something I said I would never do. Trans Iowa, the mega-mother of endurance gravel road bike races. Now I’m staring down the barrel of a loaded gun that’s taking aim straight at me in 77 days. 323 unsupported miles on Iowa gravel roads with a 34 hour cutoff to get an official finishing time.

How do you train for something like this? Ride as much as you can, as often as you can is the only plan I’ve got. Setting some sort of pace right from the beginning will be an interesting challenge. I’ve done a lot of racing and basically you set your pace at, “as fast as I can go for the distance of this race”. I’ve done some long races, Leadville 100, Almanzo, Buffalo 105 and one 12 hour solo but not anything near this long. So, what’s my, “as fast as I can go for 323 miles” pace? I have no idea but I’ll find out.

My training ride today consisted of heading into the wind for 29 miles of gravel and reversing. It turned out to be colder than I thought, I think the air temp was in the high 20’s or low 30’s but the 10+ mph wind chill bit, literally. My feet got pretty cold and I waited, too long to put in some calories so got a little bonky towards the end. Average speed ended up at 12.9 mph, not great.

My TI ride is a Salsa Fargo which is still pretty new to me. I tested two things on it today. Aero bars and a homemade cyclometer mount. Aero bars on what will be 30 lbs of bike sounds like an oxymoron but my seat of the pants efficiency gain heading into the wind was 15%. Is that worth the extra weight of the bars, I think so. With the aero bars, I had no where to put my cyclometer or the on-bike light I’m going to use for TI so I made a little PVC mount for both that zip ties to the aero bars. It worked and seemed pretty stable.

  • Nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live here.

    Nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live here.


    Look what you can do with a little PVC and grill paint.

  • Mileage: 58 miles, 95% gravel, Fargo w/ aero bars and computer mount
  • Weather: high 20’s, 10+ mph SSE wind, overcast
  • Route: prison road, Killduff, Sully, then south