Well This could be a long post so I'll start from the beginning. The Starting line was a street paced full of riders in front of the Granda Theater in downtown Emporia. They had staged signs for times you "expected" to finish in 12 hours, 14 hours, 16 hours, 18 hours funny but there was no sign for never. I looked for my group in the 18 hour but at the last minute found them in 16. I told Craig he was very ambitious 16 hours is really fast. At 6am after a short little speech that we couldn't hear anyway from our distance from the start line we were off. I was feeling a little 'under the weather' even though the weather in Emporia was perfect the weather in my stomach was not. My group was Don, Barbie, Craig to begin the day, Barbie was setting the pace for the first hour at 17+mph. I decided (and by 'I' I mean my stomach and legs) to back off to a reasonable 13-15mph as this is a pace for finishing a 200+ mile gravel ride. I did catch back up to the group on 'Texaco Hill'.
I was starting to feel better around 9am and finishing was looking like a realistic possibility. I got in to checkpoint 1 at 10:20 and was back on the road at 10:45 with Craig. We let Barbie and Don go since it was obvious that they wanted a little more speed than we cared to do. The next 40ish miles to check point two was a blur. The only part I remember is the ride through the long b-road section with all the low water crossings and stopping for a road side potty break with leaves for tp (and I made good use of the course map) I think it was around 2:30 or 3 at checkpoint 2 but I really cant' remember now.
I'm not totally sure what time we left Checkpoint 2 but I do remember we were way ahead of schedule and looking at a pre-midnight finish! The roads after 2 were a lot more 'B' service and some were almost single track level. I stand with my cross bike decision. We did talk on the B-road from last year were it all went wrong, Craig thought we should have brought a couple forties to pour out for fallen derailliers and broken dreams. I said we are mountain bikers will drink the fourties and leave the bottles for the deraillers. Once we were past there this section was the most fun section to ride. I do remember feeling towards the end of this section that I was Done, but I told myself to suck it up and quit whining and just ride.
Checkpoint 3 feels like victory. It was still light out about 7:50, didn't expect that. We Stopped for too long here (almost 30 minutes) but I think we needed the rest. I remember that after this point all I was thinking was are we there yet? How many more miles. One wrong turn in Americas set us back about 10 minutes or so and I thought I was going to die on the last hill.
We finally pulled into town and Craig says lets pick it up a little and finish strong so I heard start doing 20+ to the finish. A couple wrong turns later we were in the finish straight. They had blockades up the whole street and I heard the derailer clicks next to me. The adrenaline took over and this is were the 53 ring comes into play. I always dreamed of finishing a race in a sprint for the line with a couple people. I never thought it would be a 200 miles race. Gear kept dropping and I picked up speed, no one had come by me yet so I kept moving I caught a glance at the computer on my bike under on of the street lights 35mph. I shifted again and was out of gears (53x11) and crossed the line.... Only one guy was sprinting with me but I won, well 151 overall. Really I didn't even care if I was DFL I finished and did in 17.15 way faster than I had ever imagined. And I'm never doing it again...ha ha ha.
A Couple things I learned, bring toilet paper on all day races. Space food and liquid nutrition is great, but only for so long (thanks to Jimmy Johns for staying open late). I'm not doing Trans-Iowa next year. Aerobars look dorky, but I wished I had one. And I'll be back :)