Hope rises in the morning, they say, and we certainly were feeling more hopeful as we saw the leaders come into Checkpoint#1. They were later than we imagined. The rain and B Road really put a dent into the their progress and time left was slim. d.p. and I knew that there would be many that wouldn't make the cut off.
That said, the sun was out, the winds had died down somewhat, and it looked as though it might allow for the roads to firm up later on in the day. We stuck around for a bit after the leaders took off and then we set out to chase them down and continue our check on the roads and directions.
Here is the lead group on their way out of Checkpoint#1. (Click on the pic) Notice the tire tracks? Yeah........soft, soupy, and like peanut butter. d.p, and I could see that this was going to be a really tough Trans Iowa.
We passed the leaders and then we were on to the western reaches of the course. The hills were many, the roads were really soft and bad here, and the views........incredible. There is something about a rain washed sky, wet landscape, and springtime that is really beautiful. But, I doubt the racers were looking longingly at the bucolic countryside of Iowa. Something told me that there was a lot of grinding of teeth about now.
The roads were so bad that we were wondering in some spots how to negotiate the mud holes that had developed from the mutitudinous dust holes we saw here just weeks ago. The Element pitched, swayed, and spat mud high into the air. At one point I remarked that if we continued to have spring road conditions in Iowa like this, we should promote a rally car race! It would be epic.
Well, we weren't doing a rally car race, although it felt like it at times. We were checking out roads and trying to gather information. We were getting DNF calls and texts. I knew we would, but when Checkpoint#1 volunteers told us 30 riders failed to make the cut off, I was a bit stunned. The gravity of how tough this event was this time settled in, and d.p. and I knew that another blow from "Mother Nature" would knock Trans Iowa down for the count this time. The event was teetering on the edge of collapse, and only a respite from clouds and rain were going to salvage something from what we had to deal with. Of course, we had dealt with bad situations before, so we soldiered on content in knowing we had experiences to draw from that would perhaps be valuable once again. It didn't help the bad feeling in the pit of my gut that had been there for hours though!
<====Jeremy Fry and Joe Mann refueling at Pella.
We raced ahead all the way to Checkpoint#2 and confirmed that almost all the sections we had chosen were doable. We only needed to re-route around one really bad B Road just outside of Pella Iowa that was an all clay mire which would be a bit treacherous to walk due to the grade of the road. We marked it off on the way out to Checkpoint #2, but we had thought we should get back to man the corner where the re-route started to make sure the riders saw the flagging.
As we approached the corner, we saw the chase group just behind Meiser and Gorilla taking the "wrong turn", only they didn't know it. We chased them down and set them straight. Whew! Now what about Meiser and Gorilla? Well, we saw the tell tale footprints in the mud, indicating that we were too late. We found out later that by the time we saw those footprints they were already gone down the road.
<===Jay and Tracey Petervary's "Love Shack"
Afterwards, d.p, and I went to Pella to find any riders we thought would make the cut off at Checkpoint #2 and warn them of the re-route. When we saw that time was running out on the riders coming into town yet, we high tailed it back to Checkpoint#2 to watch what might happen with the event. By this time the clouds were building back in, and I think we both knew it was a matter of time before the skies unleashed their fury on the hills and dales of Iowa's countryside again. By 2:00pm we were getting into some drizzly showers. Hope against hope, we waited to see what we would be dealing with, and how far the riders would get before the inevitable happened.