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DIRT Cory Rood Wins 340 Mile Iowa Wind and Rock

The self-supported gravel and B-roads 2023 ultra-adventure pushed the father of one past the limit—for 28 hours and 48 minutes and the victory!

Cyclist Cory Rood Wins 2023 Iowa Wind and Rock
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge

“This one is hard to find the words for!” DIRT Cory Rood says proudly. 


Iowa Wind and Rock is a free, 340ish-mile, cue sheet navigated, self-supported adventure on Iowa’s gravel and back roads made exceptionally challenging by the notoriously unpredictable and unforgiving weather— 4/22-23, 2023 Winterset, Iowa. 


The organizers state: The primary rule is that you are responsible for yourself. Nothing more than the route will be provided to you. In the likely event of a DNF, you must find your own way home. 


“The weather never disappoints for this one. It was cold AF and wet B-roads for 2020 (DNF at mile 200), lots of headwind and rain early on in 2021, and wet B-roads (Finished in 32:13:00, Good for 6th place),” shares Cory.


After a less-than-stellar performance in last year’s 380-mile Tour of Central Iowa, his A race for the season, where mechanicals and mental and physical setbacks pushed him to the brink of abandoning, he sought redemption. He said, “I feel like I got that!”

Cory was training for the event when we met last summer on Day Thirty-Nine of The DIRT Dad Fundo Across America. With his lovely wife Beth and young son Oliver, Cory piloted a triple convertible bike with me on his wheel for the fifty-mile ride from Oxford to Wilton, IA.

I wrote then, “We’ll never forget our new forever friends, the Roods, and the day they dropped everything on a Summer Sunday to travel three hours to make our experience more memorable.”

black and white picture of four cyclists riding away

Cory’s winter preparation went well, and he tried to think of everything. He practiced fueling training rides on only items he purchased at gas stations. Cory was required to pack all essentials in and out. There were no drop bags in this year’s edition. 


He trained outside as often as possible and logged several weekly Zwift workouts. Cory described his focus and determination as “next level” and thanked his DIRT family for keeping him motivated.


Cory recalls: “I joined DIRT in December of 2018. I’m not a Zwift racer; those efforts are the opposite of what I do, so they don’t work well in my plan. But the DIRT community is great to watch. 

I’m not posting a lot, but there are a lot of fellow DIRTs doing some pretty cool things (like Chris’s trip across the country last year!) The way the group is so supportive of everyone else. 

I believe it was March of 2022; we were vacationing in Maui, HI, driving up to the summit of Haleakala with our then 9-year-old when we spotted a pair of cyclists climbing in DIRT kit! We spent a couple of minutes chatting and cheering them on. Without DIRT, that would have never happened!”


On race day, the fickle Iowa weather gifted him with rising temps in the 30s F at the start that dipped to the low 20s overnight and winds gusting over 30 mph, but little precipitation. 


“The forecast didn’t call for it, but we managed to find a pretty stout section of sleet/snow that completely covered the road. Luckily that only persisted for 30 minutes or so,” he says.

cyclists racing up a gravel hill in the snow
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge

The race organizers share little about the course other than to assure the riders that the longest stretch between convenience stores was around 100 miles and a 24-hour one at mile 280. That’s it!


Navigation is via cue sheets that you get 30 minutes before the start. Reach checkpoint one ahead of a ten mph pace, and you get cues to checkpoint 2. Rinse and repeat! 


Cory’s auspicious goal was sub-thirty hours!


“If that resulted in a podium, then great,” he admits, “if not, I won’t feel like a failure. That said, events like this require a healthy dose of respect. So many things can happen that can ruin your day, and even a finish is tough.”

Two men climbing up a hill on bikes
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge

The alarm blared at 2:15 am to signal the start of what would prove to be a  memorable day and a half. After his morning fuel and some caffeine, he stepped into brisk Iowa and up to the scoring table. He collected his cues and poked through them to get a rough idea of where the adventure would send him.


“4 am comes,” he recalls, “and off we’re off with a whisper, ‘Go.’” The pace was hard and fast for the first hour as the front group formed with Cory in it. At around mile 30, he took a wrong turn but realized his mistake early and chased back to his packmates. 


There were six at checkpoint one (74 miles), where they used the park facilities and headed back out, less than a quarter done. The six men soon came on the first opportunity to purchase supplies. Three stopped, including Cory and the others decided to press their luck.


As the miles passed, his riding companions would come and go, and he was solo for long stretches battling a nasty headwind. Somewhere around mile 160, a ditch-to-ditch patch of thick chunky gravel and a 15 percent uphill grade forced him off his bike to walk for the one and only time.

Cyclist Cory Rood Wins 2023 Iowa Wind and Rock riding through a ravine
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge

Cory’s reward for hiking was the infamous Loess Hills B-road. He explains: “This B-road is unlike any other I have ever ridden! The road is cut into the dirt with vertical canyon walls on either side with roots extending out.”


He descended the long steep monster taking a less-than-ideal line, and had to be creative with his bike to avoid launching over the bars. At around mile 183, Cory rolled up to another store for provisions, and two other riders joined him. He was efficient and left the others behind. Cory calculated in his head as he rolled away alone.

cyclist riding on a dirt road narrowly avoiding a rut
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge

He recalls: “A lot of miles left to go, but 190 miles in, and I’m sitting in presumably 3rd place! I’m doing math, and I’m at the point where if I moved at the cutoff speed for the rest of the race, I would get my sub-30 hour time. I was feeling pretty damn good, all things considered. Ready to ride into the night!”


The sun dropped, and so did the temperature. Cory leaned against a farmhouse mailbox for support as he put on his second pair of tights and played some music. It was a welcome companion in the darkness’s aloneness and profoundly affected his motivation. 

At around mile 257, Cory made his first potentially critical error, sharing, “The cue said Immediate Left on 170th, I saw the street sign that said 170th street, but I went right. I could have sworn the cue said RIGHT.”

Cyclist Cory Rood Wins 2023 Iowa Wind and Rock turns in front of a blocked road
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge

It took him four miles out of his way and onto a road with mud so deep his bike stood on its own when it sunk too deep to pedal. He was mad at himself for making the error that he was sure cost him a podium position. Cory knew he must be perfect and push the pace to salvage his sub-30-hour goal.


Much to his surprise, after riding catch-up for what seemed like an eternity, he strolled into the 24-hour Casey’s to find two of his competitors sprawled out on the floor looking pretty shelled. They left the store together, and he questioned his new riding buddies for placing information to find out that he clawed himself back to the front of the race.


He tells what was going through his mind: “Back into a podium position, and I’m feeling pretty damn good! All the negative thoughts about my miscue are instantly gone, and I’m like a new man. Not only am I back in a podium position. I feel like I’m in the best condition of the 3 of us, and I like my odds!”

Cyclist Cory Rood Wins 2023 Iowa Wind and Rock riding to the win
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge

The odds were against him in this stacked field of multi-time finishers and past champions. He didn’t let it intimidate him. After a few uphills with the two, he knew he could climb with them, but they couldn’t descend with him. 


Somewhere around 25 miles to the finish, he made his move. On a steep downhill, Cory gripped tightly to his aero bars, turned it up a few notches, and turned around to see that he was alone. He was in the lead!


The next thing he knew, he was stopping to get the final cue sheet. “Keep eating. You’re not close enough to stop consuming calories,” he tells himself. He nestles into an aero position and turns it up as high as his fatigue-battled body can stand. 


Three hundred forty miles in, and he was drilling it! A small kicker, then a flat section of driveway, and the final climb to the finish. And then.

Cyclist Cory Rood Wins 2023 Iowa Wind and Rock at the finish
Photo courtesy of Greg Grandgeorge



“I’m destroyed. I’m speechless, and I have no clue how what just happened actually happened! 28 hours, 48 minutes! First Place!” he exclaims in disbelief. 

Cory got everything out of the ride that he could have imagined. He managed his circumstances efficiently and didn’t let anything deter him (the navigation miscue came close). He only spent 1 hour and 40 minutes off the bike. 11 of the 45 starters made it to the line.

DIRT Cory Rood’s final thought: “This one is gonna stick with me for a long time!”

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