Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Trans Iowa V10--A post years in the making

Some people assign a lot of meaning to certain events in their lives.  Bike rides aren't often viewed as something important, but a 336 mile, 34 hour bike ride might leave a bit of a lasting impact on your psyche.  Trans Iowa is one of those things you choose to do that sticks with you for a while.  You find yourself revisiting the event in your head every so often.  The time you spent training for it, the imminent looming pressure of it building as a deadline in your life... Will you be ready?  Will the gods conspire to derail your efforts?  Well, who really gives a damn.  You just get ready for it and when the day comes you lube up your taint, clip in to your pedals and hit the road.  All I know is I'm sure pleased as punch that I managed to pull it off.  The venerable race director Guitar Ted declared TIV10 as one of if not THE hardest TI any rider has ever managed to finish I feel damned proud to have been one of the few that crossed the line that morning in April.  If any poor soul training for Trans Iowa ever happens across this entry, I'd advise that you can train all you want but it really comes down to your head.  You're either ready for it or you're not.  Way more of a mental battle than physical.  I'm not a true athlete.  When I completed Trans Iowa I was a derelict college student, eating food out of dumpsters, smoking cigarettes, and drinking cheap booze more than I'd like to admit.  I skipped a lot of classes to go on rides.
 I just wanted it bad enough.  It's one of those things you can take with you.  A weird experience that you can only really share with the people that were alongside you while it occurred.  You try to tell people about and they just brush it off because it seems such an absurd thing to have done.  I think that's what attracted me to the event in the first place, it is regarded as so outlandish there must be something fundamentally strange about you to attempt it in the first place.  The funny thing is Trans Iowa really burned me out on that style of riding.  Some folks get addicted to it, but for me it was "one and done".  Ever since I have really cut out the idea of suffering and endless training, preferring to engage in more pleasurable pursuits.  Trans Iowa is not fun, at all.  It ruined my body for weeks after, and consumed me for the months approaching it.  I will always respect Trans Iowa for it's strict ethics though.  It is an uncompromising event, offering no concessions to participants.  Self sufficiency is the name of the game.  Try to make excuses, but it won't budge for you.  Success or failure, you are the only one who can be held accountable.  I have always respected tradition and things unwilling to bend to the demands of a larger audience.  Trans Iowa fulfills those ideals to be sure.  Looking back, I have funny feelings towards the experience.  I will always treasure the memory, but I have no desire to ever do anything similar to it again.  It was defining, but just another bike ride.  I held it in the highest of regards, an apex I would sacrifice to achieve.  In the end it taught me that I should just have fun riding bikes and doing what I love whenever I want.  It left me with the contradictory impression that I had done something amazing, but at the same time something completely pointless.  Same as there is no point to me writing about my experience.  I suppose this day in age it is difficult to find something that feels like a genuine, self supported, on the edge, threatening challenge.  Those of us who romanticize thee explorers of olde wish to capture a slice of that fun for ourselves, and maybe Trans Iowa approaches this.  But it really falls flat when you compare it to things like alpinism or other truly dangerous solo efforts conducted far from the safety of Casey's convenience stores and cell phone reception.  Events like this get recognition for being so difficult and committing, but really nothing serious is on the line.  I was never more than a phone call away from rescue should disaster strike.  Tradition is one thing, but commitment is another.  The greater the risk, the greater the reward.  By signing up for TI you risk wasting a year of training but really nothing else.  I guess I'm just saying don't blow it up too much.  It is an amazing event that has stayed true to it's roots over a decade thanks to the tenacity and steadfastness of ole' Geetar Ted.  But when it comes down to it, it's just a bike ride.  Have fun, don't beat yourself up.  Don't become some bitter old bastard obsessed with finishing the race, doomed to never achieve your goal. Enjoy the ride.  I encourage you to give it a shot yourself, so afterwards you can ponder why you even wanted to do it in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment