Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Trans Iowa V8: Pre-Race Jitters

Road grader kicking up dust in the wind Friday
T.I.V8 Race Report by Guitar Ted: NOTE: All images by Guitar Ted and Wally Kilburg. Images can be enlarged for viewing by clicking on them.

Friday, April 27th, 2012: I had everything dialed for putting on T.I.V8. Cue sheets, volunteers, logistics, and even a room to stay in. I only was concerned about two things: I didn't have a way to change out a flat tire for my truck, and the weather.

I decided to gamble on the flat tire possibilities, but the weather thing was eating at me a bit. You see, it was an "even numbered year" for Trans Iowa, (2012), and it is true- most even numbered years for this event have had really bad weather. For believers of "The Curse", the weatherman was not disappointing- Chance of rain from 1pm Friday through till late morning on Saturday. Percentages for this were in the range that if you were a gambler, it was a no-brainer to bet on it. I was nervous about having another "non-finishable" year for Trans Iowa.

Not looking like a rainy day
 I dropped my two children off at school, then loaded up the truck to bug out of town. As I did so, the drops of rain began to fall. "Great!", I muttered under my breath as I loaded up supplies, "Here we go again!"

As I drove southwards though, things began to improve, and my spirits rose. I saw patches of blue sky, and thinning clouds. During my promised pre-race recon of the first leg of the route, I began to think that there was hope that we would miss the rain altogether. The roads were very dry, dusty, and in great shape, although the county maintainers had obviously been quite busy throwing down fresh gravel throughout Poweshiek County. The wind was really the only concern on Friday. 26mph with over 30mph gusts. The wind was insanely strong, and right straight out of the East.

I spent most of the day driving around the Trans Iowa course checking things until about 2pm. Then I headed into Grinnell to set up for the Pre-Race Meat-Up and the showing of Jeff Frings' "300 Miles of Gravel". I was a bit concerned about that as well, since Jeff had to work and would be high-tailing it down from Milwaukee just to get there by 6:00pm. I decided to have the film be last, just so Jeff would have time to have everything set up as he would like.

As if having a major part in the film wasn't humbling enough, Jeff wanted to make this special trip just for us to gauge reaction to it. I was very honored by that. Blown away, really. But Jeff was obviously very excited to see how his multitudinous hours of labor and passion that went into this project would affect the viewers and myself.

Riders sign on at The "Meat-Up"

Once at the Grinnell Steakhouse, I met some of my volunteers, who were especially helpful this year. Brent, Wally, George, and Tony were all instrumental in getting the riders signed in and numbers handed out. The timing of events, especially moving the start up an hour, made a big difference in getting folks in and on their way to eating much more smoothly than last year.

The Grinnell Steakhouse staff was ready, excellent, and super-accommodating to the needs of Trans Iowa. The room for the film showing was all set up ahead of time, and we had a smooth running event Friday night.

I was concerned that the forecast would scare off a lot of riders, and that we would have many "no-shows", but I underestimated the resolve of the folks signed in this year. Of a possible 71 still on the roster going into T.I.V8, only four no-showed. We got 67 folks signed in and into the meeting room to see the showing of the film and to hear me blather on about the course as I tend to do.

So, it was probably a good thing that I flip-flopped my original intent to have the film shown first and do the meeting last. You know, save the best for last, get the mundane stuff outta the way right out of the gate. 

Wally made a great observation during the Meat-Up. He said he loved to see how the meeting served to be a "family reunion" of sorts. A place where friends meet again. He is right about that. You could look all around and see folks catching up, or folks making connections for the first time. I guess Trans Iowa has been around long enough now that the "veterans" of the event see it as a kind of fraternity of sorts. We actually had riders from every year of Trans Iowa in this event, which says something right there, I guess.

Chatting around the grill

But it isn't like it is an "exclusive club" either. No- Trans Iowa riders seem to enjoy meeting new riders coming into the event as well. The new riders certainly appreciate being able to have some of that veteran experience rub off on them too.

That's why I like the venue. It makes people rub elbows. That isn't something you can avail yourself of at every meeting place. I know we could do a more traditional type of arrangement, but I still think the way it has been done the last three years is about as good as it gets.

After eating, everyone retired to the meeting room where I went in and did my usual. Then it was time to see the film. Jeff wanted to be able to say a few words before he showed the film, so I had him come up and he spoke about the "why" of the project, which was nice to hear. Jeff essentially wanted to explore the reasons folks do long, ultra-marathon events like Trans Iowa and to show off a cycling event he was drawn to since he is a self-described "former long distance cyclist".

Riders get settled in for the flick
Okay- Here is where I have some issues with talking about "300 Miles of Gravel", since my voice and my image is all over this thing. Jeff did a 30 minute interview on camera with me last year which he used a lot of in the project. He also used a lot of last years "Trans Iowa Radio" broadcast as narration.

If I say the flick is "such-and-such" or that folks were stoked about it, that might seem self-serving to some people out there. Well, I'll let the flick speak for itself. As far as how some of you may be able to see it, that may be able to happen, but that's another post. Stay tuned....

The Pre-Race Meat-Up went really well though, and the riders in attendance were excited and ready to get going. The event went so smoothly that we were all out of there well ahead of my schedule and I was really happy to have it go that way. More time for a "fitful night's sleep"! That and the non-rain event, (so far), was making me really hopeful the T.I.V8 would be the year that "The Curse" would be broken.

Oh Darn! Rain!!
After the Meat-Up I went down to Bikes To You to check in on Coop and Rob V who were doing an Oakley Swap event and were staying open late. As I walked in, I heard my voice, as if it were being played over a scratchy sounding stereo system. What?

It was Jeff Frings, who had come down to show the movie to them down there, and Coop had it on the store's loud speakers. Weird!

Well, at any rate, as we were hanging out I heard it start to rain. Hard! It was coming down in buckets and washing away any hope that I had of starting T.I.V8 dry. Oh well....maybe the curse thing was real. Nothing I could do about it now. So, I took off for the motel to see if I could check out the weather reports for the morning.

It didn't look good on radar. Clouds were spinning off the low pressure center and rain looked likely for several hours. Now my only hope was that it wouldn't actually be raining at the start. I tried going to sleep, but I never really got much, if any, what with all the lightning, thunder, and 50 plus mile an hour wind gusts. So much for a restful night.....

Tomorrow: The Start: Wet And Windy!

No comments: