I’ll start with the end. I did it! I managed to pedal my bike over 323 miles of Iowa gravel roads in under 34 hours to become an official Trans Iowa finisher. At 4 am on Saturday morning on April 27, 2013 I lined up with 90 other starters on the street outside Bikes To You in Grinnell, Iowa. At 12:08 pm on Sunday April 28, 2013, I rolled across the finish line just outside Grinnell with my long time riding and racing buddy Brad Patty and our companion for the last 100 miles Derek Weider. One of 36 riders to finish the race this year.

You can’t be a serious off-road rider in Iowa and not have heard of this race. We’d talked about it for years because it sounded like such a bitch. Who would even want to tackle this monster! Not me, doesn’t sound like any fun at all. Then in December or January, Brad sends an email, I think, and says, maybe we should do TI this year and I immediately answer, I’m in. What the #@*&! Not sure where that came from but the race was on as they say.

The thing starts with the mandatory Meat Up on Friday night before the race. It’s at the Grinnell Steakhouse so most of the riders and their friends and family come out, grill up some meat and get their race packets. We show up a little after 5 and the very first thing we notice is the number of Honda Elements in the parking lot. Mine must have made 5. We walked in and as racers do, immediately start sizing up the participants. Look at that guy, he looks fast, is that guy doing it, he won’t make 20 miles.

There are three Wrecked’em’s attempting this thing myself, Brad and Matt. We’re all there of course along with my wife and Brad’s wife. Matt’s got younger kids and his wife was off at one of their activities. Another riding buddy, Shawna, and her husband JJ joined us, too. Side note, JJ had sliced the top of his finger open the day before when the lock on his knife blade failed. We were very impressed with the 2″ gash and the lovely stitches. We chow down and head into the pre-race briefing.

Guitar Ted, the race organizer, is a cool guy. Laid back but unwavering in the rules and regulations of the race. Absolutely no outside support, you can’t even have fans meet you anywhere along the route because he won’t tell you what towns you roll through. Cutoff times at the checkpoints are absolute, make them or be done. Check points will have no water and no food and none of the volunteers will help you. If you have a problem or need to get pulled off the course, you’ve got to do it yourself, period. There’s the potential for 5 convenience stores, I think, but you better be able to go 100 miles on your own and pass a convenience store without restocking at your own peril.

They call the racers up one by one to get their packets starting with previous winners, then finishers, then veterans, then rookies. Sitting behind me are two guys from the UK that have come just for this event. One of them had his wheel destroyed on the flight over and had to borrow one somewhere. Do these Brits know what they’re getting themselves into? I have no idea but how cool is it that this crazy little Iowa race is attracting riders from overseas.

Packets in hand we head home for final prep and to try to get a little sleep.