Unsupported, Unsanctioned, Unmarshalled
It might seem that unsupported, unsanctioned, and unmarshalled might mean things are a bit chaotic. To the contrary, the BikeIowa team has things nicely dialed in and puts in countless hours ahead of race day organizing, seeding the teams start times, rounding up sponsors, scouting the route, and putting together queue sheets.
Waivers still required.
No money to enter, no money to win
The BikeIowa boys and girls keep the greater good in mind with all of the events they produce. A big piece of that is growing and caring for the cycling community. Since the Renegade Gent's race premiered in 2011, the race has been free of charge. This year they asked each competitor to donate $15 to the Central Iowa Animal Rescue league to honor the memory of Julie Hugo Sumpter, a long time central Iowan cyclist and animal lover who passed away late in 2015. Bam, close to $4500 raised.
They also have a real passion to get as many people of all shapes, forms and ability engaged in a race that they have a chance to win. Lot's of folks race for lots of reasons, few have a chance to win in certain circumstances.
Christy Varnum making sure all the teams are checked in and they have queue sheets.
This isn't your ordinary, mass start event. The deal is, you need to round up five people, best if they are real good friends to ride 65 miles or so over the gravel farm to market roads around Slater Iowa. Start out with five on your team and only four make it to the finish line, well come again next year and try to win again. The clock stops ticking when all five of your teammates roll their wheels over the finish line. Seems pretty simple. Well, not so fast. The last wrinkle in the race is the race organizers seed your start time based on your ability. This year, sixty teams signed up and the first team off the line was scheduled for 8AM. If you were seeded as the fastest team, your start time is 10AM and you have two hours to make up if you're to win todays race.
Paul Varnum giving a team last minute instructions prior to their departure.
It will be fun
The 11 mile slog
Ten miles into the race, you get to turn north. For the next 11 miles, you ride some of the flattest terrain you can find on the planet. Sounds simple, take turns smoothly rotating through a pace line and this section of the course should fly by.
It's April, and it's Iowa. Mother nature decided to unleash her fury and dish up a little breeze. Pulled from the National Weather Services station in Ankeny, at 8AM when the first team departed, the winds were blowing out the northwest at 21 mph and gusting up to 31. Throughout the remainder of the day, sustained winds were clocked blowing between 25 to 36 mph with gusts up to 46 mph.
No place to hide.
When we turned into the wind, we really struggled to keep our pedals from running into our teammates spokes as the wind knocked us around at will. We finally settled on letting our handlebars bang into our teammates hips - Andy Peterson.
Once you leave the start line, there will not be a convenience store, a gas station, or a town that you encounter until you return to the staring town of Slater. Half way through the race, you'll have a chance to refuel and take on water, and rest your weary body.
Time to move on, second half.
Best made plans
What goes north, also goes south. Best you use this segment for a littler recovery. At the end of this leg, you turn back west for the final seven miles back into the wind, and to the finish line.
Winners get nothing but pride and high fives
Who won? That's not important. Teammates, friendship and five people sacrificing for each other is what's important.
Still trying to figure out how yesterday's suffer ended up being so much fun. Honestly, it was the hardest day I've ever spent in the saddle and I am thankful for teammates who worked together and took care of each other - Kim Hopkins