Thursday, July 14, 2011

Heart Wrenched

Well, I would have a lot to share with you all today. Things like the new Chris King Ceramic Bottom Bracket, the route details I discovered yesterday for the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, my experiences using the Gates Carbon Drive Center Track, and more, but I have to share with you what happened Monday night, and how it impacted me on my ride yesterday. The rest can wait.

Toppled Utility Poles And Wires On The Road
I was reconning the upcoming GTDRI event, and decided to drive down to Traer, Iowa to start from there. I went south on P Avenue, and headed for that old, familiar stretch of B Maintenance road I have ridden several times, has been used in past GTDRI's, and that has been on two Trans Iowa courses. Yes, I know the road well.

I saw a couple of trees snapped off and some folks fixing some utility wires on a farm, but thought nothing of it. I approached the section of B Road, and looked off up the road. Oddly, something didn't seem quite right. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was though. It had been well over a year since I had been down here though, so, who knows?

Well, I got to the lowest part of the road, where it used to cross over a stream, and I saw that a new, low water crossing had been laid out. Okay, that's what it is then. But I still couldn't shake the feeling that it was something else. Something here didn't line up with my memories of this spot.

New Low Water Crossing, And A New Horizon
It dawned on me when I crossed the new low water crossing what was wrong. The farm up on the hill ahead to the right of the road was mostly gone! 

Where there used to be the profiles of several  outbuildings, there was something misshapen. I had a queer feeling arise in the pit of my gut.

As I rode up the hill, a large evergreen tree that used to stand alongside the road blocked my further passage. Machinery could be heard from the other side. As I dismounted to work my way through the ditch, and around the fallen tree, which was so massive it obscured my view of the farm, I could see broken bits of wood, sheet metal torn and twisted, and bits of insulation on the damp ground. As I rounded the corner, I saw the devastation. The farm was mostly destroyed, and the roof of the house had a blue tarp stretched over it, which was bulging upwards in the wind like some twisted version of Jiffy-Pop popcorn. Only ugly, and distasteful, and sickening.

I thought, "tornado", and rode on, only to find more devastation on almost every farm I saw. For miles. This was not the work of a tornado. It was worse. I didn't know what had happened. I hadn't heard a whit about this event down here. I rode on in shock and felt terrible about being a guy having a good day on a bike while so many peoples lives lay twisted and torn in heaps and piles all throughout this part of Tama County.

The feelings didn't go away as I rode through Clutier, a town on my planned route, which had all roads closed going into it, and looked as if a bomb had been dropped on it. In the town, lots of folks were busy working to clear up the mess. In the distance smoke from fires could be seen, evidence of folks burning debris from the weather event's damage.

As I turned back northward to Traer, I saw miles and miles of downed power lines, and even had to dodge several low hanging poles over the roadway. In some cases, the poles and wires had been blown halfway into the fields lining the road.

When I got home, I looked up what had happened. Surprisingly, little has been said or written about this. Apparently, Garrison, Iowa, the little town on T.I.V7 received very intense wind damage. Some fields I saw were pretty battered, with corn beaten up to the point I think it may not yeild anything, but some fields apparently were flattened to the ground. What did this?

It was a "Derecho", which is an event connected to severe thunderstorms that produces high speed straight line winds. In Benton County, the estimates were that the winds were 100-130mph.

Yeah, that'd do what I saw. Now I know. I've never seen anything like it in Iowa on such a widespread scale. I hope I never do again.

Some rides are just heart wrenching, I guess. This was a good example of one. I hope to never repeat that.....


MG said...

Wow... That's some crazy stuff. You see a little of everything on gravel rides... But never want to see things like this.

Vito said...

The angry side of Mother Nature.

Steve Fuller said...

We've actually had a number of these derecho type thunderstorms come through this year. From a windspeed standpoint, this one was by far the worst.