• Posted Jun 17, 2014

Trans-Iowa Intrigue

Trans-Iowa has intrigued me since TI V1. Each year I watched the event unfold, then I scour the internet for photos, blog recaps and results. Even more intriguing is how tough the event must have been for the participants. The months of training and planning for the event, only to have Mother Nature or Father Time squash ‘the dream’ in a blink of an eye. Even luckier are those few who outwit mama and papa.


As part of the agreement to become an official finisher of the Trans-Iowa Master’s Program, one must post some pictures and a written recap. Oh yeah. We had to take a photo of a cow. Here is the Recap posted on the Trans-Iowa Master's Program website. Here is a great post-ride piece my Mike Kilen at the Des Moines Register called "Biking the back roads, clear across Iowa"

Was it hard? absolutely! Was it fun? absolutely! Read on for more about our Adventure.



Start Time: 6:00 am - Friday June 5th 2014

End Time: 12:40 am - Sunday June 7th 2014

Riders: Scott Sumpter (46) of Ankeny and Andy Zeiner (44) of Des Moines

Total Ride Time: 42 hours 40 minutes

Total Time “Up Time” (no sleep): 47 hours

Route Miles: 381.74 (203.54 1st semester, 178.20 2nd semester)

Total Miles rode: 381.74. 385 total

Calories Burned: 21,380

Elevation: 15,974 (6,729 1st semester, 9,245 2nd semester)

Avg Speed: (9.7 mph 1st semester, 8.1 mph 2nd semester)

Avg Moving Speed: (13.3 mph 1st semester, 11.4 mph 2nd semester)

Number of Flats: 0

Number of Mechanicals: 1 (shifting issues after muddy road)

Number of Times folks asked us if we were training for RAGBRAI: 26

Total Time: (20 hrs 57 mins 1st semester, 21 hrs 55 mins 2nd semester) *

Total Moving Time: (15 hrs 20 mins 1st semester, 15 hrs 38 mins 2nd semester) *
* give or take a few minutes since I forgot to stop the timer when we ended.

The Choice to Ride

Each year I knew I was not, or would not be in shape for Tran-Iowa by late April. I am not an indoor training kinda guy and most Winters were spent working on the BIKEIOWA site and not on a bicycle. Until.. until the Fat Bike came along… Now.. with a pair of Winter boots, some pogies, a beard and a Fat Bike, I could ride all year round and have fun doing it. So step #1 was getting and staying in shape. Check.

Rewind to Fall 2013… Andy, I and some other teammates were talking about Trans-Iowa Master’s Program that would be held on the 10th anniversary of TI. It would be held later in the year and the “race” component against Father Time had been lessened. We jokingly said “We should do the Master’s Program...” We all thought it was a good idea, but we continued on with the cyclocross season and it was not mentioned again until a fat bike ride in February before CIRREM. Andy and I started to talk “open dates” and tentatively picked the first weekend in June.

Knowing the date was still “tentative” meant we had not yet 100% committed, but we were still getting in some long Fat bike rides and races. Triple D, Pugsley World Championships, Cirrem, Gents Race and Almanzo Royal 162 had all came and went before we truly “Committed” to entering the Master’s Program.

Our BIKEIOWA Cycling Team already has two members who have won Trans-Iowa, Dennis Grelk and Rich Wince, so the event even had more meaning.

On May 13th Andy and I submitted our entry to Guitar Ted and thus reality set in. Long miles were getting common this year, and the longest we over rode was 225 miles on paved trails and roads a couple of years ago. 377 miles was a brand NEW animal to us, yet is was an animal we longed to tame. has loosley used the slogan “We BIKEIOWA… Do You?” for years. And what a better way to “put my money where my mouth is” than riding across Iowa border to border on gravel?

The Five

I knew there would be five components to making or breaking this trip:

  1. Physical - Was in in good enough shape to ride 377 miles? Was Andy?

  2. Mental - Could I handle the fatigue?, lack of sleep?, the remoteness of the gravel roads?

  3. Mechanical - Would the bikes hold up? What kind of mechanicals could we fix? and what kind could we not?

  4. Mother Nature - Rain? Heat? Cold nights? debilitating headwinds? It was a gamble.

  5. Father Time - There were no time-driven checkpoints, but there was a rule that we could not stop for more than four hours at a time else we would be disqualified. Would we need to sleep more than 4 hours? what if we overslept? What if we had a major mechanical?

Bike Choice

Up until Almanzo Royal 162, my bike of choice was my Cross Bike (Trek Cronus CX). Pretty much a stock setup except for my seat (Specialized Romain) and the 42C Schwalbe Marathon Extremes. After that race, I was a little more beat up than I wanted to be. My back hurt, fingers and man-parts were numb for several days following the race. If I felt this way after 150 miles, what would I feel like after 377 miles?

I made the decision to strip my trusty bagger bike, a Salsa Vaya, of its racks, fenders and kickstand and make it my Trans-Iowa bike. It already had some creature comforts like a Selle Anatomica seat, Salsa woodchipper bars, and a Schmidt dynamo hub. “Steel is Real”. I knew the bike would be heavier, but it had to be more comfortable over the long haul of a border to border gravel bike trip - right?

Gear Choice

Knowing this was a border to border trek, and the fact that we did not have anyone to pick us up until the end meant we’d be carrying more “What If” gear. What if it rained all night? What if it was a 100 degrees? What if the convenience store was closed in the next town? the town after?

You can see the gear list below and the way it was packed. Did I use everything I took? No, but we had most circumstances covered if the need arose.

Andy and I talked about sharing gear. i.e. - we don’t need two of everything. In the end, we decided to pack as if we were on our own. Part of the spirit is deciding what to pack, plus if one of us had to quit for some reason, we would not have to combine gear at an inconvenient time.

Route Planning

Andy loaded the cue cards into RideWithGPS so we could physically see the route and pinpoint convenience stores and other resources along the way.

We also downloaded the cue cards locally to our phones and printed two sets of the Cue cards.

In additional to the cue cards, we downloaded each county’s maps to our phones just in case a bridge or road was closed and we had to find another route.


Andy and I both used the Garmin Edge 800 as our odometer and our primary navigation tool. In the Cheq 100 I had ran the battery down on the Garmin because I had too many “beep and lighting” settings ON. I also learned that turning the “Virtual Partner” OFF saves battery life too.

The good thing about the Garmins is that they can be charged on-the-go, so I carried my 12000 mAh New Trent external battery to keep the GPS and phone topped off. I also had the Sinewave dynamo USB charger that I recently purchased that was capable of charging via USB from my Schmidt hub.I actually used the Sinewave to charge the GPS during the day, then I used the New Trent to keep the charged at night (it is not recommended to charge off the Sinewave when using the lights). My charging systems kept my GPS and phone 100% charged the whole time.

Spot Tracker

A couple of days before the event, our good friend Steve (#SaveFuller) Fuller asked if I wanted to borrow his Spot Tracker. I said “Hell Yes” and thought it would be cool for folks to watch our progress (or lack of).

Steve said it would drop a point on the map every 10 minutes if we were moving. The Spot worked great and the only thing I was not aware of that it had to be reset every 24 hours. Steve sent me a text about 26 hours into the ride telling me we were not longer sending signals. I reset the Spot, and we were back on the map.

Trek to Hawarden

Hats off to Scot Hoffman for driving us to Hawarden from Ankeny Thursday evening (June 5th) . We rolled in late afternoon, ate at the Pizza Ranch, stopped by a local thrift store to get a pair of throw-away shorts, and then checked into the Hawarden Harvest Inn for our resting place before the adventure.

Scot left and we repacked all our gear again, watched a little TV, spent time trading spots in the restroom. Something at the Pizza Ranch did not agree with us and it definitely did not want to go with us. We relaxed, watched a little TV and hit the sack about 10:30pm. We set a 4:30am wake-up call. I fell asleep pretty quick, but started to toss and turn around 1:30am cause my brain couldn’t stop thinking about what was in store for us.

3:30 am. My phone rings… I jump out of bed, and answer it in the bathroom, hoping not to wake Andy (no dice). It was a work call from Wells Fargo. A team in India was having issues with one of our applications and I was first on the call list. ARGH! I spent an hour on the phone troubleshooting and eventually fixing the issue. Well… I did not need my wake-up call, as I was wide awake… so it was time to get this show on the road!

Race err.. Ride Day
It took the better part of an hour to still get dressed, bladder filled with ice-water, lubed and geared up. There was a little diner in town that opened at 5 am that fell into place with our planned 6 am start.

We cruised about a mile into town to the diner and sure enough it was open! No one there but us and the cook. Of course we walk in with matching BIKEIOWA Sharpies kits. I’m sure we looked like two clowns to the cook, but she was intrigued and asked quite a few questions about us and our journey.

With breakfast in our belly, we set off to find the bridge over the Big Sioux River. We took a couple of photos at the bridge, started the Spot Tracker, fired up the internet to make sure the tracker was working, nodded to each other, started our Garmins and started to ride East.

First Semester

It was a foggy and damp morning. We headed out of town on pavement for a little over 3 miles before we hit gravel heading East. It was 24 miles to the first town - Orange City. I’m pretty sure I popped a few Sport Legs and we just rolled through.

Ineditable Gumbo - WIth less than 30 miles in, we hit our first Level B road which was all that gumbo mud that is super-sticky and dries like concrete. We quickly started riding the ditch to escape the mud. It was still muddy in the ditch, but at least the grass gave us some protection from the mud. The Level B was only one mile long, but it took a long time to pedal and then at least 45 minutes to get the mud off the bikes. We decided to ride and let the mud dry up because it was not coming off very easily when it was wet. I was having shifting and chain-skip issues for the next few miles where we stopped again to chip off the dried mud and re-lube our now bone-dry chains.

Yes, we knew this was going to be one LONG day in the saddle.

We rolled into the next town of Paulina about mile 44 A at Caseys for a water fill and food and a little more de-mudding.

Towns along the First Semester we pretty plentiful.. Every 10-20 miles we could refuel pretty easily. Sutherland, Peterson and Sioux Rapids were the next towns we passed through. We made a good habit of eating and drinking knowing we needed to keep our energy levels up.

Pizza - At mile 82 I slammed a couple pieces of pepperoni pizza and craved and ice-cold Mountain Dew in Sioux Rapids. We got our first taste of some hills after Sioux Rapids before hitting a 30 mile straight East stretch of gravel. We were lucky there was very little wind and we were able to cruise at a pretty good pace.

Hundy - Of course we has a celebratory shout-out at 100 miles just after passing Pickeral Lake. The 100 mile mark was also a reality check that we are only a little over 25% done.

Subway - Mile 113, we roll into Mallard for more food and water before another 16 mile stretch to West Bend (home of the Grotto) and then a 22 mile (windier) North East Stretch to Algona (mile 150) where we stopped at Subway for a set down meal and longest stop of the day so far except for the de-mudding after that Level B road earlier. After the best Subway sandwich in my life, we stocked up on supplies for a for a 45 mile jaunt to Forest City (mile 194).

No Drafting - We both discussed working together in the wind but in the end we treated it like an individual event. I think we both wanted to experience the full effect of the ride so we did not draft off each other. Yes, it could have saved us time, but that is what we did.

Mammals with tails - We started to see more wildlife past dusk. Seemed the raccoons grow rather large in Northern Iowa and like to jump out of the ditch full speed, “act” surprised, cross the road and dive back into the ditch. It was a great pastime for both sets of mammals that kept us alert and awake!

Pink Elephants - We knew the next town was Crystal Lake (mile 184) and the convenience store would be closed when we rolled through. As luck would have it, the Legion Hall lights were on. We cruised in for a water fill and a little caffeine. The bar was empty, but 3 guys were out back drinking. One was the bartender and the other was a father and son. The father and son were 4 sheets to the wind and we might as well been pink elephants versus two guys in spandex - lots of strange discussions ensured....

Crystal Lake will be stop on RAGBRAI this year. Let’s just say a 10 minute stop turned into 45+ minutes after bs-ing about our trip, RAGBRAI, and some shot THEY were drinking called “used condom”. They had to come out and see our “$500” bikes and the two “pink elephants” on their way. An interesting time with the locals, but I wished we could have left sooner.

Succumb to RAGBRAI- All day long we heard “Are you training for RAGBRAI?” At first we explained “this was the ride we had been training for”... “gravel”, blah, blah, “border to border”, blah, blah, “non stop” blah, blah, “Trans-Iowa”. It did not take long to succumb to the inquiries and just say “yes”. Simply “yes”.

Spiked with Spike - There were some nice rollers the next 5 miles to Forest City (mile 194) where we stopped to stock up on food at a 24-hour Caseys. This is where the young guy behind the counter told us about “SPIKE® Double Shot” energy drink. Kind of a 5-hour energy drink on roids. I bought one, drank half of it, and packed the other half for somewhere down the road. On our way out a young policeman drove and and talked for a bit, and just shook his head when we told him what we were doing. Eastward Ho…

Two Hundy
Somewhere in the dark, we rolled the odometers over to 200 miles. No shout-outs this time. We did not even notice.

McGrady Trail - It was dark-thirty, foggy and damp by the time we go to Pilot Knob State Park 5 miles East of Forest City. We came to the off-road section called "McGrady Trail" in the park that we read about on the cue cards. It was a blast to ride a little single-track in the dark after all day on gravel roads. The trail was abundant with vegetation and pretty dang wet. Our legs and shoes got soaked cruising by grasses and shrubs. We had to walk up one hill because it was way too slick to ride.

Boom! - And there you have it… The TIMP First Semester ended 5 miles East of Forest City in Pilot Knob State Park. The "McGrady Trail" dumped us out at 340th street still inside the park, with some residential houses “back in the trees”. I think our lights and talking woke up all 95 dogs in the neighborhood. It was 2:57 am and we saved our GPS track at 203.54 miles and fired up the Second Semester.

First Semester Stats

miles: 203.54

time: 20 hours 57 minutes

moving time: 15 hours 20 minutes

avg speed: 9.7 mph

moving avg speed: 13.3 mph

max. speed: 34.2 mph
elevation: 6,729
calories: 11,283

avg Temp: 75.1 F

number of mechanicals: 1 (shifting issues after muddy road)

number of flats: 0

I wish I would have tracked how much water, food and other liquids I took in, but did not. I did not eat nearly as many GUs, shotblocks, skratch Labs, or Lars bars as I thought I would. “Real” food was tasting much better.

Second Semester

From Pilot Knob State Park, we navigating to Osage, only a short 42 miles away. At Mile 214 we cross Interstate 35. A milestone to feel we had ridden halfway across the state.

This whole section was pretty flat with a few rollers and river valleys. We stopped somewhere about halfway at a bridge around sunrise, ate again and took some time to stretch.

Diner Time - We arrived in Osage somewhere between 7 and 8 am (mile 245.5). We cruised through main street looking for breakfast. The town was setting up for a Farmer’s Market as there were lots of locals and local wares and art being set up. At the end up Main, there it was… a nice little diner.

We parked the dirty bikes in front and us dirty bikers walked in adorned with muddy legs, dirty arms and the “wow” factor of the BIKEIOWA Sharpie Kit. We turned every head in the diner as we walked in (Think old Western, without the swinging doors). Even the 6 month old child in the height chair looked over. We found a quaint little table for two up front and proceeded to relax for a bit. We ate well and enjoyed the rest. You could tell folks wanted to ask us so bad what we were doing, but they didn’t. Not even the waitress said anything out of the ordinary. Just business as usual. We still got plenty of peripheral stares, and those who walked out of the diner just stared at the bikes and walked off in silence.

We were both still feeling pretty good. Our nutrition, water and Sport Legs intake had been spot-on so far, but we knew the hardest part of the ride was coming. No sleep Big hills and long stretches between towns. We loaded up on supplies and away we went.

The next town was Cresco (aka “Land Before the Hills”) (mile 295) was still 49 miles away from where we were at in Osage. We rolled past Riceville about 20 miles in and did not need to go 2.5 miles off-route for any supplies (5 miles saved!)

Hello Mother Nature - I am not sure of the mile marker, but at some point, it started to sprinkle. We stopped to put the rain covers on our bags and stow away our cameras. Within a minute or two the sprinkles turned into rain. We pointed at a pole barn less than a ½ mile away and that is where we sprinted to. We spent the next hour there as the rain turned into an all-out downpour.

We saw a pickup coming down the road. It was the farmer who owned the building. We waved as he pulled up very slowly. I’d be weary too if I saw two drowned rats in spandex in my barn. We said we took cover in his barn when it started to rain and we were riding across Iowa on gravel. He asked where were were from and we said “Des Moines”. He had no problem with us waiting out the rain there in the barn.

We ate, rearranged gear, took photos, and watched at the radar as we heard tornado sirens from a town away. It rained several inches in that hour and we wondered how this would affect the rest of our journey...

We So Lucky - We were so lucky, just 15 minutes before the downpour, we were on a 3+ mile dry yet very deep and rutty Level B Road. After that kind of rainstorm, that level B road would have been almost impassable. It would have taken us hours to walk that stretch.

We finally made it to Cresco. We were both pedaling a little slower than we wanted to be for the flatness of the course.. The winds has picked up against our favor and our legs were starting to fade. The Caseys in Cresco was a great site to see! Food, drink and more food.

Octane - I love it when your body is on the verge of needing fuel. Not bonking, just needing that extra bit of octane.Just one sandwich or a handful or oreos can make all the difference. I slammed another Spike Energy Drink and we cruised out of town for a 6 mile Northern route (head wind) before turning East again. Energy levels were back, and legs were feeling fine.

Comfort - Now is the time when the steel bikes, the comfortable seats and handlebars really pay off! My back or neck did not hurt, and my knees were in fine shape. All would have been hurting at this mileage on my cross bike.

Three Hundy
yes, this should have been a memorable moment. A time for cake, balloons and midgets, but nope... but we rolled right past this milestone

Sallys - Mile 303 is memorable - This is where the ride will toughen up all you Sallys out there. The beginning of the last 77 miles. There was more elevation in this section than Almanzo Royal. I am glad I did not know that fact going into the ride. Some math is better left for post-ride recaps.

Mile 331.5 - We rolled into Decorah where we had spent the weekend and raced Fat Bikes at the “Pugsley World Championships” in late February. We knew the hills were pretty brutal, but beautiful, leaving Decorah. No single-track for us this time, only a beaut of a climb out of town.

Real Food Dammit - We stopped to fuel up knowing there were no towns in the last 49 miles to Lansing. I had been carrying way too much GU and Shotblocks. I threw most of it in the trash in lieu of Oreos, string cheese, a big ass pickle, a turkey sandwich, peanut M&MS and a Mountain Dew. Real food dammit. I packed as much of the food against my ice-filled camel-back in my frame bag so it would stay cool.

Cotton Mouth - We also bought toothbrushes, toothpaste and some mouthwash. I had cotton mouth from all the sugar, etc. over the last day and found myself drinking way too much water in the last couple of stretches to compensate for the dry mouth. A quick brushing and gargle made a huge difference! I meant to pack one, but forgot. A toothbrush and toothpaste will be a staple in all future long rides like this.

Stop for a Beer - Right before we started to climb (and I mean CLIMB!!) out of Decorah we hear someone yell “Hey Sumpter, stop for a beer!” We looked over and saw a house party going on across a field. We waved and motioned that we were moving on. They yelled “C’mon - You only have 50 miles left!”. I threw them a “thumbs-up” and geared down for the hill in front of me. Later I found out via a Facebook post that it was Sharon Huber and crew was watching our Spot Tracker location. Pretty cool.

Oney Sighting - Decorah was just full of surprises. About 45 minutes later after some rollers, we were on a short paved section and we see a group of 6-7 cyclists coming over a hill. They yelled “We haven’t seen any other cyclists in 115 miles!”. They recognized the Sharpie kits and we recognized them as Ben Oney and crew coming from Rochester MN on their way to Decorah to camp out. We shouted a few words back and forth and Andy and I were back on the gravel.

Up & Down - After the first few BIG hills, came a few BIG downhills. This was fun and all until the 10th or 12th BIG hill where it felt like we were little kids on a slide… climbing, sliding, repeating. We knew we were close to the end, but I did not realize how long this last 49 miles would take us.

Fatigue - It was soon dark and the fatigue was setting in. The gravel wet and mucky and throwing a pretty good spray as we bombed the downhills. Andy is a climbing machine and I was getting used to watching his tail light go up and then watching it go down. I’ll be the first one to say I am not a climbing machine and I could not believe how much we were climbing with over 300 miles on our legs.

Head Bobbin’ - We’d now been up over 35 hours without sleep. The uphills kept me awake with the effort needed to climb, but the downhills were just plain hypnotic. With my beam of light, the gravel spray and the cool winds, I was starting to head-bob which was NOT a good feeling give the curves, slick gravel and fast changing elevation. We stopped about 20 miles from Lansing, stretched, ate our food and downed another SPIKE Energy drink. I even did a few jumping jacks to wake myself up.

Creek Crossin’ - At the bottom of one of the downhills the road ended at a creek (French Creek??). We look at our maps and thought “we musta took a wrong turn”. We had not. We looked at the fast moving water and tried to gauge the depth to see if it was rideable or if we should walk it. The rocks were softball sized which would make it difficult to ride. It looked about mid-shin deep. It was a cold and damp night and getting our feet wet was not in my plans, but neither was the “dirty dozen” hills we just climbed.

On the other side of the creek, we saw something reflective. Earlier that evening we came across a bridge that was out, but passable by bicycle. Right before the bridge, there was some electric fence with bicycle-sized reflectors on the wire. We thought there may be more electrified fence on the other side. We even threw rocks at the reflective aura.

Andy said “I’m ridin’ it” He turned around, got a little speed and rode across. He made it , but pretty much got soaked from all the splashing he created. I said I was going to “Trial bike it” and started out slow. I made it about halfway, got thrown off balance by some rocks and planted both feet in the creek. Yep. Nice try, but no cigar.

Trophy Time - We walked up to the “reflective aura” and the reflectiveness was actually coming from a sticker stuck to a trophy that was about 15 inches tall. We both said “WTF?!?” about 10 times. The trophy was engraved with “2nd place Ozark Mountain Adventure Race”. We were literally in the middle of nowhere and this trophy appears in the middle of a freakin’ gravel road with a sticker. WTF?!? We asked ourselves “WWGTD?
“ Guitar Ted would snatch up that trophy and ride to the end, and that is exactly what we did! I had one extra bungee cord and we strapped it to my back bag for the next 14 miles. We still don’t know the story of who put the trophy there. Fill us in please…

Last 10 - The rest of the hills were still big hills by Central Iowa standards, but nothing like we’d just came through. Lets call ‘em “big rollers”. I found myself looking for city lights around every bend. Of course the city of Lansing doesn’t put out much light where we came in, but it was keeping my mind occupied and we eventually hit the outskirts of town.

We stopped the clocks at 12:40am on the banks of the great Mississippi River with 381.74 miles. We had ridden some extra from the hotel and diner earlier, so I am calling it a 385 mile trip.

High Fives - Andy and I high-fived each other and stood there for a bit (#Surreal). The wind was howling and we were gettin’ cold. About that time Sherry (Andy’s fiancee) came down the street with a large cold pizza and a bag of beer. We loaded up the bikes, headed to the hotel to eat, shower and sleep.

Second Semester Stats

miles: 178.20

time: 21 hours 55 minutes

moving time: 15 hours 38 minutes

avg speed: 8.1 mph

moving avg speed: 11.4 mph

max. speed: 30.9mph
elevation: 9,245
calories: 10,097

avg temp: 64.4 F

number of mechanicals: 0

number of flats: 0

What Worked and what did NOT?
Everything pretty much worked as planned. The Bike, the gear, the food and nutrition, the whole setup. I was happy with it all, and would not change much “next time”.

There were two things did not work quite as expected.

My front light is bright enough that it is illegal in Germany, but when I am climbing a hill at 5mph or less, the light really dims down to almost nothing. I had a 500 lumen Serfas helmet light that I used the last 40-50 miles. Andy’s light actually got brighter and wider the slower he went (newer technology)

The other thing that I planned for was the charge my GPS via an external battery. The Sinewave USB charger worked beautifully all day long, but when I tried to run both the front light and charge the GPS, it turned my front light into a strobe. Sinewave actually recommends against this, but I did not figure the GPS would take much juice.

Look Back
A week later, I look back at what we accomplished. We rode across Iowa, border to border, on gravel in well under 2 days. It really seemed like we were on a week-long tour. I suppose that is the makin’s of a good vacation ‘eh? We knew were not going to “race” it, but we wanted to keep moving and would be happy with an overall average of 10 mph (which we did not make with all our stops and what Mother Nature threw at us)

It is an experience we can talk about for years. The support of our Facebook friends was amazing. Even the Des Moines Register did a great piece afterwards on our trip. There is no better way to promote Iowa Gravel than doing what we did. I hope it inspires others to take a different route and find an adventure like ours.

6 Billion Dollar Man
It really makes you aware of what the human body is capable of. Much more than the daily pace we normally put it through. It is not often than we get the chance to push those limits. To find out how long you can go without sleep. How many miles you can pedal, and then pedal more. How the body craves sugar and salt. The way your thought patterns change under fatigue and adrenaline. The body is an amazing machine.

I took Sunday, Monday and Tuesday off the bike, but took nice (slow) walks at night. My Quads were the only muscles that felt shredded for a few days. Calves, Hammies, back, netc.. all good. My seat bones are a little bruised and tender, but not bad for that amount of miles. Wednesday I got back on the bike and got in some mountain biking. I could still feel the fatigue, but was pretty back back to normal by the end of the week.

Thanks to Andy for making the trek. For spending those weekends getting in long miles when would could have been at a party ride or doing something fun(er). We both had our high and low points, but all in all, we really rode well together.

Kudos to Mark Stevenson for his tenaciousness with Trans-Iowa over the last 10 years and now the Master’s Program. His work has put Iowa on the map for one of the best and most challenging gravel rides in the USA.

What I Rode… What I Took...



  • ShotBlocks, GU and Lars Bars (used less than ½ of what I took)

  • Camera

  • Licorice

  • plastic bag

  • chapstick

  • eye drops

Revelate Medium Tangle frame bag

Seat Bag

  • Two tubes

  • Two C02 cartridges

  • Small shop rag

Jersey Pockets

  • phone

  • cap and gloves (sometimes)

  • extra food (sometimes)

MountainSmith Rack Bag

  • Mountain Hardwear Rain Jacket (did not use)

  • Light Windbreaker Jacket (used)

  • Long finger gloves (Oakley)(did not use)

  • Buff headwear (did not use)

  • Extra Shotblocks, GU, Skratch Lab mix and Lars Bars

  • Helmet Light (Serfas TSL-S500 Headlight 500 lumen)

  • Petzl small light

  • 2 applications of Skin Lube (Rich Wince - TI9 Winner turned me onto this!)

  • 4 disposable rubber gloves for Lube applications

  • Chain Lube (used for chain only…)

  • BIKEIOWA stickers

  • Triple AAA card

  • rain covers

  • extra food (sometimes)

  • Supplements

  • Sport Legs (4 every 1-2 hours)

  • Advil (2 every 2-3 hours)

  • Hammer Electrolytes (2 every 4-5 hours. probably should have taken more, but forgot to..)


  • Leatherman

  • Crank Brothers Multi-tool

  • Crank Brothers Pump

  • SRAM Quick Master Link

  • patch kit

  • 2 extra Crank Brothers Cleats (mine we very worn down to begin with)

  • 2 Crank Brothers pedal bushings

  • 4 extra cleat screws

  • 1 Fiber Fix spoke

  • 4 extra rack bolts

  • 1 extra chain ring bolt

  • Zip Ties

First Aid

  • Petroleum Jelly (nipples and crotch)

  • Claritin D

  • New Skin (small bottle)

  • Neosporin

  • bandaids

  • moleskin


  • BIKEIOWA Sharpie Kit (Jersey & Bibs by Primal Wear)

  • BIKEIOWA Sharpie Cap

  • Half-finger padded gloves

  • DeFeet Wool Socks mid-cuff

  • Specialized Mountain bike shoes (should have gotten new shoes before the ride. these had holes in them and I had to keep emptying the sand and dirt out at each stop)

  • See jackets, gloves and headgear details above


  • Garmin Edge 800

  • Spot Tracker Gen 3

  • Fuji point-n-click camera

  • New Trent 12,000 mAh battery

  • Samsung Galaxy S3 phone

  • Sinewave dynamo USB charger (hooked into Schmidt hub) - charged GPS, phone and battery) Look for a full review on BIKEIOWA soon!

  • Rear Blinkie - Battery powered


  • Oakley Split Jackets with Prescription lenses (tinted and clear)

  • Oakley Windjacket accessory insert (more eye protection from wind. My eyes are super dry and get wind-blown easily which leads to blurry vision. This was the first time I had used these inserts and they worked great! Sure my eyes sweated a bit more in the direct sun, but the extra protection allowed me to see clearly for the whole 42 hours) Look for a full review on BIKEIOWA soon!





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This is awesome! Don't know how I missed this blog posting, but thanks to RSB for bringing it to the top of the heap in the comments section. NICE!!!!!

#2 - deRonde posted Feb 3, 2015

Hellish Job Guys!

#1 - RSB posted Feb 3, 2015

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