This Trans Iowa feels like a very different race than last year. I feel more knowledgeable about the whole experience and learned from last year. I know better on what to pack and what not to pack...know the terrain better and feel like I trained a little bit better this year. I didn't have as many "long" rides this year compared to last year. Around this time last year I had already done a 162 mile ride, and many 100+ rides. This year I have just as many miles but was more consistent about riding. Doing a 70 mile ride one day and a 60 mile ride the next. Riding all through the month of March and commuting all year round I have about 2800 miles going into the monster named Trans Iowa. My fitness feels good...it is just a matter or taming the inner demons that might be the struggle. "Get your head right"
This year seems like a different beast. Last year it was raining a week straight before the race. This left the course totally soaked even though later in the day on Saturday the gravel dried up and those who had past the 1st checkpoint were able to gain a tail wind and some dry...yet hilly terrain. Many were able to finish last year. This year there is a 60% chance of rain scheduled for Friday during the day, a chance of rain Friday night into Saturday morning....freezing temperatures during the evening close to 33-35 degrees with winds out of the NW 15-25 mph. This provides an interesting question regarding the clothing situation. What do you wear....toe warmers, shoe covers, full tights, a heavy jacket?? I'm going to be bringing everything with me in order to test the waters friday night and see what the temperature feels like and gauge it from there...
Also, this year the Slender Fungus plans on relying more so on the convenience stores along the route....as well as maybe the "secret checkpoint"...(because I think it might be a food stop) for our nutrition. Last year we carried a lot more food and water than we needed to and ended up with heavy bikes for 5 hours into checkpoint 1. This burned up the legs....when there really was no reason to do so....we could've refueled at checkpoint 1...so why bring all of the extra weight. I am bringing a camelbak type setup just incase at the last minute I decide to carry some water along the route on my back. This would be a simple and easy solution to carrying extra clothing and food when I am used to commuting with a backpack as it is so I know that my body is used to it.
More than anything about this race I love training for it....I love talking with Ari and Giggles about it all winter. Pushing my body into the cold temperatures of the winter commutes just to harden myself up for the spring classic. I love thinking about little details about the race....even though some simple ones are often over looked...and I'm sure I am over looking some of them. This makes this race even tougher because in a sense we are throwing all of our eggs into one basket. This is the biggest race of the year for the Slender Fungus. So, in this sense there can be no failure. Ari and Giggles have to work all week....drive throughout the night on thrusday night into friday morning just to get to Grinnell from Syracuse, NY...get a little rest, do all of the pre-race events, then sleep for 4-5 hours if lucky...and then try and conquer a true mammoth of a race! This is a lot on our plates! But, we didn't sign up to back off so easy....we are here to finish this thing! Rain, snow, shine....we will be riding and we will have our sights on finishing this race. I look forward to seeing my good friends!
Yes, its going to be hell out there. There are probably going to be situations and encounters that we weren't planning on... but hell thats life and you have to deal with it. Its all part of this race. You need to be prepared for anything and everything which makes getting ready for this race all the harder. In this sense we are ok. Ari and Giggles are seasoned vets of this race. I have learned a lot from them, as well as other finishers and vets of this race. Thanks to the great DBD for the encouragement and advice on this one. I look forward to riding with Sir Mallory and Mr. Kershaw of Duluth, MN. Iowa is a special meeting place for some very unique people....one of them being the great Guitar Ted. Thanks to him we have another year of riding this great race. We all owe him a great thanks for giving up his own time and money to make this event possible for us riders. Thank you GT and see the rest of you out in IA!
- JB, Slender Fungus