TransIowa was a seminal event in U.S. gravel cycling, so when it held its 14th and final edition in 2018, a giant hole was left on the gravel landscape.

Fortunately for the Midwest ultra-endurance gravel crowd, a group of Iowans stepped in to start a new late-April event called Iowa Wind and Rock. Although nothing will ever be TransIowa, the event still challenged participants to ride 337 miles with over 28,000 feet of climbing in one go.

Event organizers Sarah Cooper, Dennis Grelk and Steve Fuller shared the motivation behind the race on the event website:

As Iowans, TransIowa finishers, and people who enjoy stretching personal boundaries, we didn’t want to see this unique opportunity for people to challenge themselves disappear. Iowa Wind and Rock is NOT, nor will it ever be TransIowa.

However, we want to provide people a similar challenge – A free, 340ish mile, cue sheet navigated, late spring, Iowa event that allows entrants to challenge themselves, expand their boundaries, and allow them to see what they are capable of.

TransIowa was known for a distinct flavor that Iowa Wind and Rock paid homage to. The only navigation aid allowed was cue sheets passed out right before the race. TransIowa racers had 34 hours to finish the course within the time limit, and at Iowa Wind and Rock, the limit was set at that same 34 hours.

The event started on Saturday morning at 4 a.m. in Winterset and the finish line closed at 2 p.m. on Sunday. This year’s race was in the same central part of Iowa, based in Winterset, located southwest of Des Moines.

One reward for taking on the 337-mile race was a beautiful Iowa sunset. © Iowa Wind and Rock

One reward for taking on the 337-mile race was a beautiful Iowa sunset. © Iowa Wind and Rock

The first edition of Iowa Wind and Rock was free to enter, of course with the expectation that plenty of blood, sweat and tears would be required on the rolling hills of Central Iowa.

Registration was capped at 120, and 57 riders took the start line in Winterset. A team of 12 volunteers helped keep track of participants on the warm 80-degree day with 20mph winds.

Although race day was warm and windy, the spring has been a brutal one in the Midwest. An ugly race day was traded for an ugly race course. Race co-director Cooper described the conditions.

“The extreme winter we had here in Iowa devastated the surface of our roads, and even though things were very dry for race day, the impact of that damage was evident all over the course,” Cooper wrote on the race Facebook page. “Spring means new rock, which showed up by the truckload just in time. It all made for a very, very difficult day.”

Cooper designed most of the route on roads she knows very well from long days training for Ride Across America and Ride Across the West. She described how one particularly challenging road ended up on the Iowa Wind and Rock route.

“The Trail of Tears was a road that I took out to see the tree in the road, because why not ride 70 miles into a 30mph headwind on fresh rock to see a tree? The tailwind on fresh rock on the way home from that ride taught me a lot, and I take myself there whenever I need a good ass kicking. No one has shed more tears on that road than myself. I love this route.”

Thanks to a long winter, conditions on the route were pretty gnarly in spots. © Iowa Wind and Rock

Thanks to a long winter, conditions on the route were pretty gnarly in spots. © Iowa Wind and Rock

The challenging course with challenging conditions made for a shattered field across the Iowa cornfields. Only six people finished by the official 2 p.m. Sunday cutoff and a few more finished after the cutoff. A number of riders pulled the plug 27 miles from the finish. Difficult, Iowa Wind and Rock was.

The Women’s race winners were Janie Hayes and Heather Poskevich, who finished together (second overall). The Men’s winner was Mark Skarpohl.

Other finishers before the time cutoff were (singlespeed!) fatbike winner Bob Billings, Greg Grandgeorge and Darren Gilmore. Robb Finnegan and John Mathias finished the entire route after the 34-hour cutoff.

Results are below.

Women's Results: 2019 Iowa Wind and Rock

PlaceFirstLastCategoryTime at Finish
1JanieHayesWomen's Open31:16:00
1HeatherPoskevichWomen's Open31:16:00
DNAAnyaBogdanetsWomen's Open
DNFAdrienneTarenWomen's Open
DNFCarrieBaxWomen's Open
DNFCarolynFranzoneWomen's Open
DNFKateAnkofskiWomen's Open
DNFKimberlyBreuerWomen's Open
DNFJenBarrWomen's Open

Men's Results: 2019 Iowa Wind and Rock

PlaceFirstLastCategoryTime at Finish
1MarkSkarpohlMen's Open29:00:00
2GregGrandgeorgeMen's Open31:16:00
3DarrenGilmoreMen's Open33:37:00
Missed CutoffRobbFinneganMen's Open36:12:00
Missed CutoffJohnMathiasMen's Open38:19:00
DNAAndrewDostalMen's Open
DNANathanGriffeeMen's Open
DNFEricSchmidgallMen's Open
DNFPatrickWalleMen's Open
DNFBrendanHouslerMen's Open
DNFMatthewKutilekMen's Open
DNFThomasClaverMen's Open
DNFRussellBuriMen's Open
DNFShaneBuscherMen's Open
DNFJustinTan!Men's Open
DNFJosiahDermyerMen's Open
DNFJoeMannMen's Open
DNFTylerPulsMen's Open
DNFTomHughesMen's Open
DNFCoreyGodfreyMen's Open
DNFPetrInemanMen's Open
DNFDavidHaaseMen's Open
DNFCaleSwansonMen's Open
DNFMichaelMcGinnMen's Open
DNFLucasBarloonMen's Open
DNFJohnJarvisMen's Open
DNFKylePlattsMen's Open
DNFColeLedbetterMen's Open
DNFPeterMcQuillanMen's Open
DNFAaronSmithMen's Open
DNFJoeFoxMen's Open
DNFKeithWellsMen's Open
DNFIanHoogendamMen's Open
DNFEricFoutchMen's Open
DNFDerrickBoosMen's Open
DNFEricKoeritzMen's Open
DNFStevenKoeritzMen's Open
DNFJeffFisherMen's Open
DNFDamienBoleyMen's Open
DNFDannyFatkaMen's Open
DNFDavidInskeepMen's Open
DNFStefanoTomaselloMen's Open