2021 Iowa Wind and Rock: Event Recap
The Iowa Wind and Rock is a challenging 340-mile event that continuously pushes riders to their limits and has some of the lowest finisher numbers we’ve seen. Mike Ivancic, this year’s first-place single speeder, put together a deeply personal reflection on the tragedy that led him to the starting line and what motivates him to keep pushing on. Find it here…
Filling the gap where the 14 year-old TransIowa race (RIP) left off, Iowa Wind and Rock is a free, 340ish mile, cue sheet navigated, self-supported adventure on the gravel and back roads of Iowa. The 2021 event took place in April and had around 60 riders take part. The ride was brutally difficult not only because of the terrain, but because of Iowa’s fickle weather that time of year. Only 11 riders finished, one being singlespeeder Mike Ivanacic (cover photo). Here’s Mike’s reflection in his own words.
Words by Mike Ivancic, photos by Michael Conti (@utahclimber)
My story about riding 342 miles on a single speed in Iowa did not begin as an idea of how hard I can push myself or how much can I suffer. This all began on January 1st, 2019, with the brutal murders of my father, stepmom, brother, and sister. I have only shared this story a few times with my friends, family, and recently on the podcast Bottom Bracket Biking. In late 2018, I sent in my race resume to the DKXL (recently renamed Unbound XL) a 350-mile gravel race in Emporia, Kansas. I had already completed the DK 200 the prior year and the newest addition of the DKXL intrigued me. However, I received notice in December 2018 that I was not accepted.
The next few events that followed spurred my passion for endurance riding and racing. When my local cycling community found out about my family, there was a tremendous outpouring of love. One of those individuals was a cyclist that works for the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) and the other being the director and several other members of the US Military Endurance team. They all asked if there was anything they could do, and my friend with the KBI gave me the number of an excellent forensic psychiatrist that normally works exclusively with law enforcement. I tell you this because no matter how strong you think you are, it’s always okay to ask for help. When the US Military team asked if they could help in any way I immediately said “GET ME IN THE DKXL!” Without any hesitation, they said “consider it done.”
So, what was it about this hot and grueling 350-mile gravel race? That was simple: I knew I needed to unpack all of these feelings. Besides working with the forensic psychiatrist, I knew I needed more and to really dig deep within myself.
So why, two years later, do I still feel the passion and need to race 342 miles with 30,000 feet of climbing on a single speed, in remote Iowa with unpredictable weather conditions? For me, it is about more than just pushing myself. This type of race/ride is about paying respect to my family, whose lives were cut too short. When I was in Florida going through everything in my father’s home, one of the detectives told me that my father, at 70 years of age, still put up a fight to try to save his family and himself. So, I race these events to let my father know that his fight may have ended with the loss of his life, but it instilled a tenacious fight in me.
Iowa Wind and Rock was hard and possibly the deepest in the well I had gone down. If you are looking to really stretch yourself in an absolutely beautiful landscape, this is the race to do it. The race director Sarah Cooper (self proclaimed Head Banger, Course Designer, Crusher of Souls) puts on a totally professional race and the volunteers were all amazing. I have ridden in so many states and several countries. In fact, Iowa Wind and Rock reminded me of a week I spent riding across Finland. Just remember to lift your head and enjoy the scenery too.
I’m not sure of the official numbers, but I know about 100 people signed up for the race. Maybe 60 showed up and 11 finished. Last year, only one rider finished (by the way, he was on a single speed).
While writing this I realized that May is Mental Health Month and National Bike Month. I feel that we all have things we struggle with and there are many ways to get through this life. For me, it is my love for my fellow humans and cycling (and of course dogs too). If you do struggle with anything in life, cycling is not the only thing to turn to. You need to have your family, friends, and always look to a professional to help unpack anything that you may have deeply internalized.
2021 Iowa Wind and Rock Results
- James Ebart: 28 hours, 4 minutes (first place men’s open category)
- Dave Haase: 28 hours, 57 minutes (second place men’s open category)
- Andrew Onermaa: 29 hours, 54 minutes (third place men’s open category)
- Kae Takeshita: 33 hours, 16 minutes (first place women’s open category)
- Mike Ivancic: 33 hours, 21 minutes (first place single speed category)
To hear more of Mike’s Iowa Wind and Rock story, you can check out the Bottom Bracket Biking podcast below, which interviewed him and Cory Rood after the event.
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