I probably slept better than I had before any Trans Iowa, but that isn't saying that I got a great nights rest either! Any way you slice it, 2:30am is pretty early.
d.p. and I along with Daryl Pals and Mark Pals made our way down to the start area in front of Bikes To You. On the way down, we saw Steve Fuller riding to the start with a heavy bag he was carting down for another racer. We stopped and offered to carry it for him, which he gladly let us do. Then we were off again. When we arrived at a little after 3:00 am there were bikers there already! Guess some people are like d.p. and I and can't sleep well before a Trans Iowa, eh? At any rate, we were able to spend some time with those who were hanging out before the start.
Craig Cooper of Bikes To You and Rob Versteegh of Oakley spent the night in the bike shop's trailer and after everyone got down there Craig fired up the generator and we had great lighting at the start area which was really nice. (Thanks Craig!!) Bikes To You also allowed us to use some pop up tents for our checkpoints which turned out to be a really good thing!
Well, it wasn't long before we had everyone down there and ready to go. I had to have everyone sign the waiver at the last minute, which was unplanned because I had originally wanted that done at the Pre-Race, but I had forgotten about it! (Whoops!) That put us about three minutes in arrears on time, but it wouldn't matter in the end. While everyone was trying to sign on, I had a bit of a warning to the racers about the downhills. After I finished, Odia, the wife of Salsa Cycles Tim Krueger, said that I sounded like a father leaving his sons in charge of the house for the weekend. Ha! I resemble that remark too!
Well, once d.p. hit the horn on the Element we were off. The roll out was longish, due to the fact we were in the heart of Grinnell and had to get the riders to the first gravel road before we pulled off.
Once we did, the lights and commotion of the start were replaced by the tomb-like darkness and a thick blanket of fog. We could only see what the headlights illuminated, otherwise we were bouncing down the road in solitude and silence.
The roads were pretty sticky and gooey for the first miles. Worse than we had seen the night before. d.p. reckoned that a lot of riders had torn the beginning sector up reconning it after the pre-race. It looked to be true, as after a few miles the roads got a bit better. That was soon forgotten though when we started seeing flashes of light. Trying to believe it was just micro-wave towers went out the window when we saw an obvious big flash which couldn't be mistaken for anything other than lightning. The worry level went way up!
Then after waiting on an overpass for any signs of the leaders, we took off and found a car parked backwards on the course with a bike rack on it. uh-huh.......hmmmm..... Then a text comes on my phone from Paul Jacobson, " that was me". So that turned out to be our pair of "eyes" to watch for the leaders. Paul texted not long after when they came by him. They were doing close to an 18mph average over the first 20 hilly, gooey miles. Amazing!
It wouldn't last though. The rain unleashed its fury upon the course with strong, amazing blasts of lightning all around, but not on the course. It was getting pretty close to shutting us down though, and as we crawled along some discussion was had to what we would do about ending the event. About that time we noticed that the fog disappeared. Shreds of blue sky could be seen coming our way, and the rain was stopping. Maybe we would get this event in after all!
But the damage had been done. We were told that the thunderstorms had dumped up to an inch of rain in that short time. Water was standing on the roads, and of course, the B Maintenance roads would be unrideable.
<===image by Steve Fuller.
T.I. vets knew not to even try and ride these sections, but others not so well versed ended up with a real time sucking situation on their hands. Unfortunately, fully over a half of the field was wiped out before Checkpoint #1 due to the conditions which prevented them from making the 8am time cut. So it was that the event started to take on the look of T.I.V2. Would anyone make Checkpoint#2? Would the weather improve enough for the riders to make up time? These were the questions on our minds as we drove off on into the section between Checkpoint"1 and Checkpoint#2.