Trans Iowa Live

Trans Iowa v13 is officially under way. I’m driving support for Josh and Walter Zitz, and by “driving” I mean I’m going to be sitting in the hotel (see: hot tub) on stand-by in case they need someone to come and get them. The weather has not been ideal leading up to this, and it looks like we’re in for a decent amount of rain and some pretty chilly winds. A couple of years ago, at TIv11, there were no finishers due to weather. I’ve been told that this year is substantially better than that year, so hopefully we’ll see a good percent of the riders finish. If you want to follow along and listen for rider call-in updates, here’s the TransIowa Radio page. Feel free to also follow along for my live updates as I post them, from rider positions to hot tub positions.

1:50 PM (4/30): Mark Johnson pulls home the sole Single Speed finish of the year, and is the 6th and final finisher for Trans Iowa v13. Dan Lockery was 8 miles out at the cutoff, so just barely missed out on finishing this year.

12:04 PM (4/30): Walter, Jackson Hinde, and Matt Acker come in for a joint third place. There are still 2 people out on the course: Dan Lockery and Mark Johnson. 

11:20 AM (4/30): Greg Gleason rolls across the line for second place. 

10:48 AM (4/30): Officially leaving the hotel (and my internet access behind). I’ll sign on when I get home and give updates on the finishers. It’s been a wild adventure, and if you followed along at all, thanks for checking in!

10:45 AM (4/30): They must’ve miscalculated Dan’s distance from the finish, because he rolled across the line at 10:45 (about a 30 hour, 45 minute ride).

10:30 AM (4/30): Dan is about 7 miles from the finish. There are only 4 riders left in the race now: Dan Hughes, Dan Lockery, Walter, and Greg Gleason. At this point, it seems like those 4 will finish, but anything can happen.

10:06 AM (4/30): I’m probably going to be kicked out of the hotel before Walter finishes. I was hoping I could at least get Dan and Greg’s time recorded live, but they still haven’t posted updates on that (not sure if it’s because they haven’t made it or because they’re just slow to update). Check-out is at 11, so I’ll be live until close to then. After that, I’ll probably have to wait until I get home to finalize and post times.

8:48 AM (4/30): The leader, Dan Hughes, is estimated to be at the finish within the hour. The word is that he’s riding very light. Something like 2 feed bags and a single tube taped under his seat.

8:18 AM (4/30): Cereal, bananas, and bagels in the belly. Watching some Everton (get f’ed Chelsea) and looking to chillax while we wait for word from Walter and the rest of the riders out there. It seems like everyone I’ve talked to has said that the gravel was basically all mud and the B roads were essentially impassable. At this point, I think we’ll be doing well to see 5 finishers this year.

6:50 AM (4/30): Josh just got back to the hotel, and I’m astonished his bike is still in one piece. I’m astonished he’s still in one piece. It’s messy out there, friends.

6:39 AM (4/30): I’m not really a Bundesliga fan, but holy god Wolfsburg. Maybe try some defense.

6:24 AM (4/30): Walter is with Matt Acker and Jackson Hinde in Pella at Walmart. They have about 60 miles left to go, so I would expect them in around noon or maybe 11 if the wind settles down a bit.

5:47 AM (4/30): Shout out to the farmhouse in Knoxville that let a soaking wet, muddy group of cyclist strangers into their house at 4:30 in the morning. Iowa’s aight.

5:17 AM (4/30): As of around 2 AM, there were only 13 riders left in the race. I think that was before Josh, Sarah, and Luke stopped, so I’m guessing we’re at around 10 people left. They’re estimating 7 or 8 AM for the first place finish (still Dan Hughes).

4:48 AM (4/30): Just got word that Josh and 2 other people are calling it at around mile 250. The rain and wind all night long, combined with the low temperatures make hypothermia a real threat. 250 miles in this weather is an incredibly impressive ride. Walter is still out on course with the top few people, but I suspect they’re about all that’s left from the original field.

1:15 AM (4/30): A bit after 10:30 last night, Josh had caught up with the group of 5 in front of him, so he is no longer alone which is good because nighttime is scary. It appears that the rain has dwindled just a bit, but that wind is still nearly 20 mph. I haven’t heard an official count, but it looks like somewhere around 18-20+ riders made the checkpoint last night, with a few suspected DNFs after the checkpoint.

9:38 PM (4/29): Alright, fam. I’m going to try to get some Zs in while the riders travel between Checkpoint #2 and the end. Last I heard there were 30 riders left in contention, with not all of them at the second checkpoint yet. It’s supposed to be a cold, rainy, windy night, so we may see a few more DNFs pop up. Catch ya in the morning.

9:32 PM (4/29): Nice win for SKC. They had many chances for more goals, but I suppose I’m sated with a 3-0 win.

9:14 PM (4/29): Checkpoint #2 is at the Cumming Tap, AKA, everyone is refueling with a brew. Given current speeds of Walter and Josh, I’m guessing Walter will be back to Grinnell sometime around 6 or 7 AM and Josh will roll in around 8 or 9 AM.

8:31 PM (4/29): Josh rolls into Checkpoint #2 about 2 and a half hours before the cutoff. We’re on the downhill slide now. And by “downhill” I mean “really hilly and into a headwind for basically the rest of the race”.

8:26 PM (4/29): Steve Fuller is keeping things tidy on his Twitter for Checkpoint #2. Looks like Walter made it in a bit before 7 with people trickling in after him. Scott rolled in around 8:08, seemingly without Josh so he must’ve pulled away. Still waiting on updates from him.

8:06 PM (4/29): Sounds like Dan Hughes is about 25 minutes ahead of Greg Gleason — both are through Checkpoint #2. At the time of the update, there were two riders rolling in so hopefully we’ll hear soon who those were.

7:39 PM (4/29): SKC v RSL kicks off. Carry me to bedtime, boys.

7:35 PM (4/29): Man, that was stellar. The difference between warm and wet and cold and wet is spectacular. Fun story – Walter was telling us last night that one of the supporters got super drunk last year and threw up in the hot tub. I’m both happy and ashamed that I wasn’t that guy this year. Still no updates from the field, but they were expecting the leaders at Checkpoint 2 sometime around 6 — meaning that things are going a bit slower into that wind than planned.

6:29 PM (4/29): Hot Tub Time Machine. BRB.

5:23 PM (4/29): Josh and Scott are in Winterset with a few other riders. Sounds like the wind has pretty well demolished everyone, so they’re going to eat some food and regroup there before making the final push for Checkpoint #2.

4:42 PM (4/29): For the time being, the rain appears to have stopped (in Grinnell, at least). The incredible NE winds have not, however. Currently we’re looking at between 25 and 30 mph winds. The rain looks to be on its way back in a few hours from now, prepping for a chilly, wet night ahead.

4:00 PM (4/29): Cracked the first beer. Made it all the way until 4 o’clock.

3:39 PM (4/29): Haven’t heard much from any of the riders or Guitar Ted, so I’m assuming things are still going well. If the SKC match gets postponed tonight, I might be in for an early bed time.

2:42 PM (4/29): Sounds like Walter flatted and fell back into 2 unnamed people that, I believe, are probably Josh and Scott. Hopefully he can carry them out of the darkness and make a run for the 2 leaders ahead of them.

2:23 PM (4/29): Josh is in his pizza place and seems to be enjoying the headwind. Gettin’ cray cray in the middle of nowhere.

1:33 PM (4/29): Greg and Dan have pulled a away a bit from Walter currently, and Josh and Scott are behind him. The leaders are about 55 miles from Checkpoint #2, and they’re turning into a headwind with a bit of mud coming up. RIP your derailleurs.

1:23 PM (4/29): It’s funny hearing people from out of state pronounce Madrid wrong. This isn’t Spain, you guys!

12:52 PM (4/29): Shout out to my reader(s) in Nigeria! No idea how you stumbled across this blog, but thanks for checking it out!

12:10 PM (4/29): Walter is still in the lead group of 3 with Dan Hughes and Greg Gleason. Josh and Scott Ryder are riding together just a bit back of that group. First place woman is Sarah Cooper in 10th overall, at around the same mileage. Still a decent group of people pretty close together up there!

12:05 PM (4/29): Josh pulls out his secret weapon: Pepperjack Keebler crackers.

12:01 PM (4/29): I just found out that 105-110 miles in is around Madrid. Josh should stop by Nevada and say hi to Papa Bear! Also – it’s starting to sleet out there. Here we go!

11:56 AM (4/29): Josh has hit a bit above the century mark at 105 miles, so roughly 1/3 of the way done. Still no word on the donut count.

11:06 AM (4/29): And Sunderland is relegated. 1 down, 2 to go. It seems likely that Middlesbrough will be relegated as well. Jason Scholbrock’s Hull City are going to fight to stay above water and keep Swansea below them!

10:53 AM (4/29): And so it begins. The rain has set in on Grinnell — I’m not entirely sure where the course goes, but given the radar is basically entirely green there’s a good chance the riders are getting a bit of a shower!

10:31 AM (4/29): The rain is approaching quickly as the winds pick up. It looks like they’ve got about an hour before it starts and doesn’t stop for a few hours. That could certainly mix things up a bit en route to Checkpoint #2.

10:27 AM (4/29): What do you guys think? Is Sunderland going to be relegated today?

9:00 AM (4/29): Someone named Dave puked on course. That’s a rough way to go out, but he sounded in high spirits still

8:22 AM (4/29): Checkpoint #1 is now closed with 48 riders making it through in time.

8:17 AM (4/29): Breakfast update: got my bagel on, got my apple on, got my nanner on.

7:09 AM (4/29): Josh rolls into Checkpoint #1 with a bit over an hour to spare. Gummy worm status: burnin’ and turnin’. The next checkpoint is at mile 193 and the cutoff is 11 PM.

7:00 AM (4/29): The leaders reach Checkpoint #1. The current leader is Dan Hughes, with Walter in the group of 3 at the front.

6:07 AM (4/29): There are 4 people in the lead group right now, and one of them is Walter! I should’ve mentioned he’s the defending champ. They weren’t 100% sure on the 4th rider in that group, so perhaps Josh is the sleeper on this one.

5:58 AM (4/29): Just woke up from a power nap. The riders took off into a headwind, so the first checkpoint could be a doozy.

4:00 AM (4/29): 71 riders line up and fire off the line. The first checkpoint is 46 miles away, with a cutoff of 4 hours and 15 minutes.

3:33 AM (4/29): Josh and Walter are at the start and ready to rip.

3:15 AM (4/29): Josh and Walter head out towards the start. It’s about 3 miles away.

2:00 AM (4/29): Wake up time. Holy God.

Texting, Drinking, and Prison

I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a journalist or reporter in any sense, and there are numerous places where you can get faster, harder hitting, and more grammatically correct news than this blog. However, I’d be remiss not to mention the recent laws signed into legislation by the Iowa governor (Terry Branstad). Here’s a quick, totally biased update on those:

I’ll start off with the changes to the punishment for texting while driving. Until recently, texting while driving was a secondary offense in Iowa – meaning that the driver could be cited for using their phones, but it would have to be during a traffic stop for a primary offense. It’s now a primary offense, so police can pull the driver over if they’re suspected of using their phone behind the wheel. You may recall that one of my tips for driving around cyclists included putting your phone down. This is maybe just another push to follow that advice.

Even further, the law establishes a much stricter penalty for death caused by drivers using their phones to “write, send, or view an electronic message” while driving – to the tune of a Class C felony and up to 10 years in prison. One of the largest forces behind this change was the death of Grace Harken in July of 2015. The person behind the wheel admitted to texting while she was driving, causing the accident. The repercussions? A bit over $1000 in fines and a 3 month license suspension. The wild part is that this wasn’t even a unique case. Numerous cyclists have been killed by negligent drivers with little to no repercussions for the drivers, which is, frankly, fucking absurd. I am beyond stoked to see the Iowa public and legislators supporting and defending Iowa cyclists (and really every Iowa resident) by signing this bill.

The other part of the recently signed bill is around a 24/7 sobriety initiative. Basically, this means that if you’ve been arrested for being impaired while driving, you have to check in twice daily for a breathalyzer test. This program spawned largely out of a crash that killed Wade Franck in August of 2015 during Urban Assault Ride. The driver was drunk at the time of the crash and was a secondary offender that was driving while barred. It’s a bit sad that people require this sort of monitoring to just not be a total asshole, but it’s comforting to see Iowa prioritizing public safety.

Currently another important bill for cyclists, the Change Lanes to Pass Bicyclists bill, has been moved to “unfinished business”. The bill stalled last year, and it appears to be losing momentum this year as well. I sincerely hope that I’ll be talking about that story one day soon, but I’m about out of thread.

P.S. – I wrote this while listening to Run the Jewels 2. Great album.

Josh

For my first ever rider profile, I decided to go with the dude that originally got me hooked on cycling and kept my interest for years to come. I met Josh in our freshman year of college and in that same year, I bought my first road bike. For many years after that, all of my memories of cycling include Josh – from carpooling to cross races together to taking back-to-back podiums at Cranksgiving in skinny jeans on our fixed gears. We’ve created and shared countless memories on and off the bike, and he’s one of the most inspirational riders I’ve ever met. Without further ado:

How You Got Into Cycling:

I started off riding bikes about the same way every cyclist in Iowa starts off riding bikes: RAGBRAI. Minus the fact that I was roughly 75 pounds heavier, and I only rode my bike the two weeks prior to the annual great ride and then let my bike sit in the garage until next July. In college, the light bulb finally came on, and I realized that I was quite overweight, didn’t eat very well, and hated driving cars. I started commuting to courses simply because parking sucked, usually it was quicker, and I started to burn those calories — and the obsession stuck. I went on my first ride with the UNI Cycling Club and got spat out the back (I was somehow blind to the amount of work cycling actually took), but loved every minute of it. I went to a few of the indoor trainer rides, was stoked when I spun for an hour, and called it good. I did my first collegiate race weekend as a Cat D (wuht up, wuht up) and got lapped by the field twice. Somehow, I still loved it, and here I am today.

Current Favorite Bike:

2016 Focus Mares – all day smasher

Favorite Type of Riding:

All Day Brevet Jammerz. Otherwise known as, Ramblin’.

Advice/Tips:

1. Get a handlebar bag. It looks pro, and you can stash so much shit in there.

2. Cook your own food, and don’t waste calories on gels.

3. Take it seriously but not seriously at all.

Favorite Cycling Story:

I’ve had a lot of wonderful rides ever since I moved out to Colorado, but some of my favorite cycling memories include the memories that I can’t quite recall. Back in Cedar Falls, I helped rejuvenate the group ride series nicknamed the HammerRide. We always met up for beers afterward, and well, usually that led to getting Hammered.

Josh

Driving Around Cyclists

Since my last post was about riding safely around cars, I figured that it only made sense to follow up with a post about the other side of that equation: drivers. I don’t claim to be such a die-hard cyclist that I’ve never ridden in a car (although I try my best to ride everywhere within reason). Similarly to cyclists needing be aware of their surroundings at all times, drivers share that responsibility in order to keep everyone safe.

1. Be predictable. Immediately you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute. That sounds pretty familiar, Cory.” That’s because it is! Just as the cyclist’s unpredictability can cause confusion and accidents, so too can the driver’s. As cyclists, we’re relying on drivers to follow the rules of the road just as much as the drivers rely on cyclists. It’s such an innately simple concept that’s missed all too often. This means following traffic signs, signaling, following the speed limit, etc. One frequent offender I see is yielding right of way. I find that people tend to fall into one of two categories: not yielding right of way or yielding right of way when they themselves have it. Both are really not ideal. I appreciate the thought of the latter group, but honestly it just makes everything more confusing and less predictable. Traffic flows most efficiently and smoothly when everyone remembers their driver’s ed class.

2. Pass with enough room. I really wish this one wouldn’t have to be enforced by law. Some states have a 2 feet pass law, a 3 feet pass law, and Iowa has a “reasonable distance” pass law (whatever the hell that means to you). It just seems like the natural, humane thing to do when passing a cyclist – give them enough space to feel comfortable. It might just be a simple case of the drivers not knowing what “3 feet” looks like when passing. In fact, there was an educational program in Brazil that allowed bus drivers to ride stationary bikes while being passed at 5 feet by a bus. It’s actually a pretty decent idea, and one that they could maybe start factoring into a driver’s education program one day – I would be more than willing to be their volunteer cyclist. As a general rule of thumb, though, I would say just pass a cyclist like you would another car.

3. Stop honking. This one applies to friendlies and foes. When you pass someone you know in your car, you give them a little honk and wave to say hello. The thing is, when you’re inside your car and they’re inside their car, that’s a lot of sound dampening between you. When the friend you’re trying to wave at is on a bike, though, it’s terrifyingly loud. As far as foes go, I understand that it can be hard to let a cyclist know that they ticked you off. Rather than honk at them (potentially frightening them and causing them to swerve into traffic), I would try rolling down your window at a stop light and politely letting them know the traffic law they broke. Notice I said “politely” and also “traffic law” – don’t stop a cyclist and verbally assault them because they weren’t riding on the side walk.

4. Check blind spots before turning. This is especially true for right hand turns. It’s easy to be assured there isn’t a car between you and the curb, but a bicycle is easier to miss. Checking your blind spots for both left and right turns will not only allow you to spot cyclists but also pedestrians and other cars.

5. Watch your car door when exiting the vehicle. In my last post, I mentioned cyclists getting “doored” (hit with a car door being opened). It only takes a split second to verify no one is riding up beside you before swinging your door open.

6. Stop looking at your phone. Really, this is good advice for life in general. We all look at our phones too much even when we aren’t driving, but it’s paramount to put our phones down while we’re operating a multi-ton machine at high speeds.

7. Remember we’re all human. Road rage is something that everyone suffers from on occasion. A car cuts us off, someone is driving slowly, a cyclist (or another driver) runs a light, etc. It’s easy to get fumed, but remember that we’re all just people trying to get from A to B. We all have families and lives outside of our commutes, so please be nice to each other out there.

I think that most of these are pretty straight forward and common sense. At this point, it’s pretty understandable that drivers don’t necessarily know how to or feel comfortable driving around cyclists. Until we get a more prominent section of driver’s education programs to include cycling laws and how to drive around them, it can’t really be expected that drivers will inherently know how. Hopefully this doesn’t come across as a snobby cyclist saying that all drivers need to bow down to me as a God. Well… maybe.