the 3rd trans iowa gravel race was epic. the hills, the wind, the 25 hours all added up to a much harder event than the first one. kenny, g pickle and i drove up friday afternoon in ken’s truck and got to decorah in time to go to the prerace meeting before heading to bed at the motel. had a hard time sleeping. 2:45 am wake up and get eveything together before the 3:45 line up time. a little nervous but felt ok. neutral start for the first half mile but i was right on the car’s bumper. decorah is very hilly so we had to first climb out of the valley of the town. the hills didn’t stop there. by the top of the climb the 65 racers were all strung out. brian hannon rolls up to me and we push the pace pretty fast for a 325 mile race with hills. brian and i both agreed that the “out of sight, out of mind” racing tactic was the best. the roads wound up and down as we rolled of the front and the sun came up. this was the theme for the first half of the race. brian finished 2nd the first year and we both are roadies from the old iowa city bike racer scene. as the sun rose in the sky, the temp rose too and we rotated all the way to the check point. feeling sure that we were gaping the next group, we wanted to get a solid meal in at the checkpoint. as we rolled out of the kwik stop with water and gatorade, we see the polska team roll past. they only stopped for 2 minutes at the checkstop. brian and i time trial to bridge back to there group only to find that their pace was slower than ours. we roll off the front as the landscape evens out to rollers and windy flats. brian and i asses the options and plow onward, away from the polska kids. soon brian’s knee started to hurt worst and he pulled the plug before he did real damage. i rolled north on i ave. as the sun dropped in the sky. i pushed the pace and took a wrong turn. after a extra 5 miles, i found the right road. clear sky and full moon. i roll into the night without my headlight on. deer, rabbits and 3 water crossings. i didn’t walk. i rode through all three to keep the average speed up. my knees start to hurt but i keep going. i made the last stop for food and water. as i am leaving, i see 2 racers coming in so i roll out fast. the gravel turns twisty and hilly again. i have to stop because the lack of sleep is messing with me. as i lift my head, i see a light a half mile back. coffee is nothing compared to seeing another racer gaining on you after 21 hours of racing. i slow down to let him catch to see how he is feeling. the last of the polska kids with a bad knee, no food and little water. he flew down the hills but was slow on the climbs. my knees were done but i wasn’t gonna let that stop me from trying. climbing towards the moon in the sky, i drop him, crest the hill to see the lights from decorah and turn off my lights for stealth. the moonlight showed the steeps humps as far as i could see. 2o miles to go. cursing and climbing. super steep hills widened the gap as i slugged it up the last climb to the finish where i had the first beer i had had in 6 weeks. 2nd place was just 10 minutes back but had to walk part of the last hill. slept for 3 hours. ate a lot that day. could barely walk. ken dropped out due to back problems and g pickle rode the decorah time trial later that morning. for the rest of the day kenny and steve kept introducing me to everyone as the king of iowa. i don’t know about that but i do love killing it on a rural gravel road at 30+ mph.
i am happy to be home now. catch up on work and recover. to all the people who helped me out, i couldn’t have done it without you all.
special thanks to dad for coming up to watch the race, kenny and g pickle for helping out and being solid teammates and mom and dave for everything.