Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trans Iowa V8 Recon #2

Yesterday I got more recon done for Trans Iowa V8 and it was a pretty successful outing, even though not everything about the day was planned. (More on that in a bit) WARNING! Mondo-long post with pics! Getcher coffee/favorite beverage and sit down fer awhile!

I'll share some images today, but not too many road images, since my favorite images weren't of roads, but things I saw along them yesterday. (Yes Jason, I have more barns in today's post!)

My favorite image from the days outing.
First of all, let me say that in no way am I trying to pretend or intimate that I am some sort of "photographer". These are images from a cheap-o Fuji point and shoot set to black and white. There they are, and I like the images. Maybe photo-zealots wouldn't, but so be it. I make no apologies for these. Hey! I'm driving a truck at 40mph, trying to keep track of a route, and shooting with an unsteady right hand......on loose gravel. 

Anyway....the day was a grey one. The skies were wrapped in a blanket of thick clouds, and everything on the Earth was somber, dead, and withered, for the most part. Black and White images seemed very appropriate.

I was so stoked to see I got the tree. I saw it coming down the road, and my camera was buried underneath some maps at the time. So- Here I am, scrambling to find the camera, driving 40mph on gravel, and then trying to open the dang camera and get a shot off. By the time all that happens I have one chance out the passenger window to try for an image and I got it. Definitely a minor miracle there!

The thing is, I am out here with very limited time available to get recon done. I cannot afford to slow down and stop to take a "proper" image. I have to keep rolling on, or I'd be taking images all day and only traveling 20 miles total. Recon ain't-a-gonna git dun like that! So it turns into kind of a game for me that keeps that recon fun.

Yes Jason.....another barn find!
The biggest goal yesterday was to go from Grinnell to Checkpoint #1. This included figuring out if my roll out in Grinnell proper was going to work. I may modify it a bit, but it would be okay the way that it is now.

I was a bit concerned about the chip seal mileage, but it ended up being just tolerable and I think I'll leave it in. You riders will appreciate that luxurious surface to start out on, no doubt!

The opening miles are kind of odd. It goes from relatively benign, to having a couple of monster rollers, and back again to benign for about 10 miles. Then it gets more hilly on a consistent level for a bit.

The roads were rough this time of year. There has not been much moisture in Iowa in the last few months, and new gravel just rolls around under the tires like marbles on the rock-hard underlying road surface.

Oddly enough, it wasn't all that dusty either. It was a bit eery actually. I was expecting it to be very dusty, but maybe the dust all blew away in the strong winds of late.

Yes- There will be at least a mile of B Road
I didn't really think I had any B Maintenance road in for the first section coming into Checkpoint #1. Well, guess what?

That's right folks, a mile section of B Maintenance road will be in the first 50 miles of T.I.V8. I know that just amazes you veterans of the event.

Obviously, I got to drive it yesterday. It is bone dry, and has two unbelievably steep hill climbs within that mile. When you are in between the  two ridges, it seems as though you are cut off from the rest of the world. It is almost like being in between two huge swells in a sea of earth.

Trust me- I highly doubt that this will be at all rideable come April 28th, 2011. If it is, well it will be a lot of fun. If not........

I am considering adding a hair more time to get to Checkpoint #1 due to this and......well, you'll see!

Not a barn- A one room school house

 Interesting to note; The route to Checkpoint #1 will be just a bit more than 50 miles. So, shorter than last year. However; it has about as much for hills, and you also will go in every compass direction getting there.

That means you will have a head wind,  if there is a wind that morning, and at least part of that time you will also enjoy a tailwind.

Okay, don't forget that B Maintenance road in there. If it is wet at all, that will be a walking mile, and it will be really tough. Those two climbs are waaay steep! Yes- so are the descents. No ditches either, so there is no escape.

Now last year, with the snafu with the B Road mix-up, the hills, and the wind, I saw where many missed the checkpoint cut-off in a 15 minute window. Had the cut-off time been 15 minutes later than it was, a lot of you would have made it through. So, with that in mind, I am considering a bit of lee-way on time coming into the first checkpoint, due to the difficulties.

At this point, I was totally lost!
Okay, so much for the first leg of T.I.V8! That is going to work out quite well, I think. That put upwards of 170 miles confirmed, (adding in the last recon I did), and in the books ready to be cue-carded this winter.

Now, I had a bit of extra time to do some checking into a snarl of a problem at one point on the return leg of T.I.V8. So, I headed on over to that section of the proposed course to have a look-see.

Essentially, it was like dealing with a three-headed monster. I had three possibilities, with one that I was hoping would be "the winner". I first checked on the two of the "lesser desired" choices.

Well, it looked possible from one standpoint for sure, although there was some construction work going on that would need to be looked into further. Since that wasn't a primo choice, I left it for a "possible later". The other choice looked sketchy. It would require a bicycle to really find out if it would work, since part of the route would be a "no motor vehicles" sort of deal. I didn't bring a bicycle on this trip. Dang!

Still lost, but the roads were rad!

Okay, no big deal, right? My "third choice" would be the winner anyway, or so I had hoped. I got closer, and I was totally stoked. It looked really great. Then, I saw where a farmer had re-claimed about a quarter mile of roadway which cut the route off. No way!

I was super bummed out. But, in the process of checking into the last choice, another, unforeseen choice, not on my maps presented itself. I decided I may as well do some on the ground research, since I was there and all.

Well, I was pressed for time by now, but I hurriedly went about my business. I figured out an approach pretty quickly, now to get out of there. What roads would link up? I looked at my maps and drove to two dead ends. No good!

I decided on adding in about a mile of pavement to solve the riddle. Not my favorite thing to do, but it would work. I was still feeling bummed about the earlier route not working, and decided to hang it up for the day and head on home.

A proper working barn with Holsteins!
 Since recon was done, I could head home on pavement. I looked at the map to find a direct way. I found the road, and followed the signs to the next town. Oddly enough, I got routed onto some gravel. Okay! Let's see where this goes now. It couldn't be far to the next town anyway.

Well, the road was totally awesome! I was immediately thinking how cool it would be to use this road in a T.I. added more pavement to get to it. Well, the further I went, the less I thought that was a negative. This road was just that good, or so I was thinking.

Then I realized I had absolutely no idea where I was! I had gotten so excited, and the road had so many twists and turns, I didn't know which direction I was heading in. There were only a couple of cross roads, and the signs gave no hints. The sun was shrouded by thick clouds, and everything was drenched in diffused light. I was going to have to stop to figure out where in the world I was, since the town never materialized.

And another barn!
 Well, I rolled up onto a cross road, looked at the signs, and got out my map. Within a few minutes I pinpointed where I was, and saw that I was actually headed in the right direction!

It wasn't the road I had thought I should have been on, and that didn't matter now. I was just stoked to see that if I wanted to, I could make the mistaken turn work out as part of the route!

A few things may make me change my mind against this though. First- A longer stretch of pavement than I'd really want would be necessary to get the riders on this section.

Secondly, there were three dogs, one of them a giant Harlequin Great Dane, that were a bit more "friendly" than I like to see. Yes, there may be other dogs on route that I did not see, but when I do see dogs get aggressive with my vehicle, I think about that a bit.

Finally, this section would more than likely be done by anyone still in the event at night. You wouldn't see any of the cool stuff, just have some really big hills to climb and descend.

The other route is definitely more "bland', but would also be expedient to use in the dark, and would deliver riders to the next part of the Trans Iowa course without the drama of extra paved road miles, dogs, and hills that would definitely put your skills to the test in the dark.

I'll be thinking about that for awhile!


Herringbone said...

"Still lost,but the roads were rad!" Your enthusiasm is terrific. Loved the story and pics!

Wally said...

Nice. The roads sound awesome. GK and I have rooms reserved so you know we will be there to help. After the holidays I'll give a shout to see about coming out early.

Enjoy your weekend!

GNAT said...

Sweet. Love the high contrast B&W!

Jay said...

Looks great! Happy Recon