Dratted weather! We have had to postpone the full on recon of the 2008 Trans Iowa course again. This time it is not the ice, but a big snow storm that has left behind in its wake drifts and temperatures below zero with dangerous wind chills. I don't know about you, but being in a vehicle that is stuck in a snow drift out in the middle of nowhere in Iowa with ambient air temperatures well below zero doesn't sound like a great idea. Maybe its just me? Hmm.....
The good news is that because of the data we were able to glean by the means of modern technology, we are well ahead of the curve in terms of getting our cue sheets prepared. Here is the reality of what that means. In the past, I would look at maps and come up with a proposed course. Because of the unreliability of the source materials I was using, I would have to do a physical reconnoitering of every turn and verify that roads were in fact passable. ( All of that being done in hand writing no less! ) For example: During the T.I.V3 recon, a road that had been on every single map I could find, including the D.O.T.'s online map of this particular county, was in fact closed due to a bridge being gone over the Shell Rock river. It was obvious, (once I laid eyes on the place) that the bridge had been removed several years ago. (Trees don't spring up to a height of 20 feet overnight, ya know?)
Typically maps available to the public can have data that is up to 20 years old. That doesn't cut it for me, so physical recon was necessary first before doing the cue sheets could be considered. Now with the availability to us of fairly up to the minute satellite derived maps we can do the cues pretty accurately and the mileage will be spot on. Cues may have to be slightly modified here and there, but overall we shouldn't have to drive the course first, and we are not this year. It should also be noted that because everything is sourced in the digital realm that hand writing all the cue sheets can be completely avoided now. This not only saves an enormous amount of time, but increases accuracy as well.
Actually, we really don't have to drive the course until much closer to the events time to make sure that certain features haven't been made impassable by recent actions in regards to weather and government. Still, our excitement to see the course drives us to get this done as soon as possible. You never know too, something might crop up that even the latest in mapping technology can't reveal.
We'll get out there sooner than later!