Sunday, May 06, 2012

Trans Iowa V8 Part VI: Broken, Busted, And Blown

M. Braun attempting to fix a local girl's bike
NOTE: All images by Guitar Ted, Jeremy Fry, and Wally Kilburg. Images can be enlarged for viewing by clicking on them.

Trans Iowa V8 Race Report: Broken, Busted, and Blown- by Guitar Ted

 Saturday, April 28th: Approximately 9:00pm- I am sitting at the trail head for the Volksweg Trail just inside of Pella's city limits waiting to see the Braun Brothers go by. And I really need to urinate! 

Checkpoint Charlie was a busy, busy place Saturday evening. It started out with the attempted fix of that local girl's single speed rig by the co-leader of the event, and it ended with some ragged, half out of their mind Trans Iowa riders just hoping to find a mythical pizza in a podunk town. In between there was a bunch of drama and the race was turned inside out there and further up the road.

As far as appearances went, it would have seemed to be a slam dunk that the Braun's were going to have the Trans Iowa prize of the Oakley watch to themselves. The last of the chasers, Eric Brunt and Troy Krause would hold on for the runner up spots, and John Gorilla would finalize the podium. We'd see Charlie Farrow pull some endurance mojo out of his hat for a miracle finish, ala T.I.V5, and a cast of "usual suspects" would fill up the in between spots. But just when you think you know how it's going to end, everything you know is wrong.

The Braun's visit a Pella convenience store 90m from Grinnell
Earlier, Charly Tri succumbed to full body shut down after passing checkpoint Bravo. Then I got a bomb dropped when I took a call from John Gorilla who said " was a difficult decision, but..." he was dropping out at Checkpoint Charlie.

Then the scare of the event for me was when Charlie Farrow didn't show up at Checkpoint Charlie before everyone went through behind him, (or that were behind him, I should say.) My good buddy, MG back-tracked the course though and found him struggling not more than 7 miles away. He too climbed into the broom wagon.

But that wasn't the real zinger. I recall that I was driving the last bits of the course, high up on some fresh graveled hill, when the cell rang to life sometime shortly before 2am.

"..yeah, we're done. Just not feeling it..."

The two that had animated the entire event since Hedrick, a 100 miles in, were calling it quits not more than about 56 miles from the finish. The Braun Brothers were out of Trans Iowa!

So, who would win? Well, I heard from the Brauns that they were seeing some tire tracks in the gravel ahead of them. They had been making wrong turns, and apparently someone had leap-frogged them. They were insistent it was one set of tracks. I surmised it was Eric Brunt, with Troy Krause somewhere behind him. Surely these two would come in one-two for Trans Iowa V8's top honors, since Troy would win the Single Speed/Fixed category as well. Wow! I was floored. But now to see that the rest of the roads were good and to get to the finish line.

An abandoned Phillips 66 station in Melbourne, IA
I finally pulled into the grassy lot just beyond the finish line of T.I.V8 at 2:30am Sunday morning. Steve Fuller was already there snoozing in his rig. I felt the elation of having finally gotten all the driving done, and that it appeared T.I.V8 would be a successful event, so I sat on the tailgate of my truck and drank my last Legend Pale Ale to celebrate.

Funny thing as I sat there sipping on the beer. I was feeling a biting East wind. It was getting just about as bad as it was the morning before. This would really test the riders resolve. I had seen miles of fresh gravel and a surprise B Road that was in store for the finishers, and now the wind on top of it which they would have to face for about 15 miles of the final 25 coming from the furthest west and north point on the Trans Iowa V8 course.

But that wasn't really registering on my radar at that moment. I'd been up for over 24 hours straight now, and I was beat from bouncing around in that truck most of that time. I thought I'd try to get a bit of shut eye, so I tried to get into a comfortable position in the standard cab truck I have. Hmm......this won't do.......I'll try this......nope.......aaahhhhhHHHH!  It wasn't really working. Then I heard a car pull up. It was Jeremy from Checkpoint Charlie wanting to drop off stuff with me so he could go on home.

The smile of a winner.
Jeremy chatted for a bit, then I climbed back in the truck for a bit when he left. It wasn't long after when a Chevy truck came wheeling into the area and stopping right next to me. Okay- so much for tying to sleep.

It turned out to be Eric Brunt's dad, who was wanting to make sure he'd be there to see Eric come in. (Seems some folks actually were listening to "Trans Iowa Radio"!) About that time Steve emerged from his vehicle and we chatted about the amazing turn of events that occurred over the previous hours of the night. 3am passed and 4am was coming hard. There would be no sub-24 hour Trans Iowa this year.

Eric's Dad was pretty animated during this time. He was nervous as a pet coon. I talked with him and assured him that it may be a later arrival than 5-6am what with the gravel and now the wind, which seemed almost as harsh as Saturday morning. I was suspecting a closer to 7am time, but I was going to start wondering more if it got beyond 7am.

Well, it did go beyond seven, but not by a lot. About 7:10 Eric Brunt rolled in to the finish to some sparse cheers from the few that were assembled there. (Unfortunately, my only "Trans Iowa Radio" post failure of the event was the one where I announced the winner!) Troy Krause rolled in about 10 minutes later and claimed second overall and the single speed crown. This was also Troy's second T.I. finish in a row.

Notice anything missing on the 6th place finisher's bike?
More folks started filtering in to the lot and we had a small party of cheering fans for the remaining 17 folks that would roll in. We had more repeat finishers from last year, (Charles Parsons, Mike Johnson, Adam Boone, Scott Bigelow, Dennis Grelk,), we had folks finally knock off a Trans Iowa finish after previous attempts, (Matt Maxwell, Robert Fry, Aaron Schnee, Bruce Currin, Jeremy Kershaw, Jay Barre, Mark Johnson), we had new, first timers, (Chris Schotz, Dan Jansen, Charles Showalter), and an old veteran who came back and did it again in Joe Partridge who was one of the original 9 to ever finish Trans Iowa.

Pugsleys were ridden, whiskey was drank, and tears of joy were shed by men and women alike. 19 finishers gutted out a course with an  ending that was universally agreed upon as being brutal in its content of fresh gravel, hills, and wind.

As if that wasn't hard enough, Charles Showalter and Corey, "Cornbread" Godfrey both whacked their rear derailleurs off on the last B Road at about seven miles out. So they scootered their rigs to the finishline!  Hardcore indeed.

I stayed until the very end, but just at the time I was about to get out of Dodge, the "Alabama Crew" pulled up and were asking about their man, John Karasch who was still out on course with another rider, Scott McConnell. In the end, they would get back to Grinnell to finish the course in almost 36 hours. Amazing!

I had pointed my truck home long before then, but a funny thing happened. By this time I had been awake for close to 38 hours and I was nodding off on the highway, so I pulled off on some gravel to look for a napping spot. Oddly enough, I woke right up, so I drove the rest of the way home on gravel!

And that was the end of Trans Iowa V8.

Stay tuned for a final look at the event and a hint at any future changes.

1 comment:

MG said...

Oh man... I haven't even finished reading and I have to say that watching Matt Braun help that girl while leading the race was a darn cool sight. I sure didn't have any tools with me, but Matt did! Awesome...

Good show, gents. I just may be back next year... on a bike.