|Meet me down at the crossroads.....|
At the end of the road, it dumps out on to a corner where a county blacktop ends and a cemetery sits. Perfect! I drive up to find Wally, George, and Jason lounging on the luxuriant soft grass under the shadow of the white wooden fence around the cemetery. I wasn't there long before Jeremy and Robert pull in, my two new Checkpoint 2 volunteers. Jeremy produces a small cooler of beer and I grabbed mine. Soon we were all drinking and chatting away in the sun on a fine Spring day in the middle of no where in Iowa.
These people are all my friends, but I do not get to see most of them very often. To have all of us standing around with no other reason to be there but to chat and have fun with cycling and photography was perfect. Another one of those sublime, tiny slices of time you do not want to ever have end. But they have to, and you know that in the back of your mind. It was very good while it lasted......
|L-R: R. Frye, J Fry, Cornbread, J Boucher|
There ya go! As Jeremy later noted, it wasn't like I didn't try to stress that there would be nothing at our checkpoints. I walked away thinking he wasn't long for this event. He looked really out of sorts. Then I watched him weave away slowly and suddenly here is Cornbread! Okay then, I had better hit the road. I don't think I said anything to the guys, I just got in the truck and beat it up the road. I saw Chris shoot out from a driveway, apparently he was looking for a place to beg some water.
There were other surprises already in terms of DNF's (Did Not Finish). I received a call while rolling away from Checkpoint #2 that Eric Brunt was done, a victim of dehydration and he was also a victim of a dog bite while trying to ask for water at a farmhouse. Matt Gersib and Charles Showalter were both strong riders that were also already out of Trans Iowa by the time I left Checkpoint #2. (Note: Charles Showalter fixed his bike with outside assistance and was still riding the route for pride.)
|Tama County really laid on a lot of fresh gravel.|
I don't really have anything remarkable to say about the next 98 miles or so. I was going up and down hills constantly, I was stopping often now to take a phone call, or a text from a rider that was dropping out. I made a few Trans Iowa Radio calls based upon what information I had from Jeremy at the checkpoint.The gravel was horrendous! Every inch of every mile was laden with fresh gravel. Only T.I.V5, the year of the government bail-outs, was anywhere near this level of fresh gravel madness. I can only attribute the situation to a "perfect storm" of sorts. One part late Winter weather, which pushed back any possible maintenance till just before Trans Iowa, and the other part the farmers, who were also pushed up against a time crunch to get the fields readied for crops. The counties had to get the roads fixed before all the heavy equipment went out, and this all was concentrated in the few days running up to T.I.V9.
|Makeshift paper dryer|
I finally pulled up to the right hander on pavement leading into Brooklyn, Iowa. I decided to stop and parked my truck at the head of the B Road there. I conspired to stop and wait for the leaders, but I knew I would be there a long time. The Sun was westering and soon it would be dark, but I might be there 4 hours or more waiting. No matter, I had resolved to do it.
In the meantime, I figured I could take care of some clerical and T.I. related chores. One of those was ascertaining where all the prizing was in my covered tubs so I could remember it when I got to the finish line. I popped open the first tub, and saw the bottle of Templeton Rye Matt Gersib had given me as a gift. It looked strange. Wait.....the cork was gone! The bottle was lying sideways, just the way I placed it in there against a big bag of Cajun food brought to me by some fellows in the event from Louisiana. The big bag of foodstuff was poofy, and I figured it would cushion the whiskey well, but apparently the cork was pushed out, possibly due to heat build up? I don't know. Anyway, I also suddenly realized that there was probably a lot of Rye whiskey in the bottom of the tub.
Actually, it turned out most of the whiskey had either evaporated, or had been soaked up by various things in the tub. To my horror, one of these was the waivers! I could still make out the names, but the pages were half soaked in whiskey and not very stable. I carefully peeled them apart and laid them in the waning light of the day. I was sure they wouldn't dry, with little wind, and the air getting cooler by the minute. What could I do?
I thought about my defroster! Yes! So I got all the papers dried on the dash with the heater on high. It took about 45 minutes, and my cab smelled like whiskey bad! Good thing the sheriff didn't come by! The Oakley watches got marinated in the stuff, but were okay otherwise. I also lost all of the boxes of breading that came with the food, but otherwise I just cleaned up whiskey residue and put everything back. At least it took up about two hours of my time!
|A rider spotted in the inky night!|
Then it was a game of waiting and figuring out if anyone could beat the 24 hour line for a complete Trans Iowa. What I knew was that Chris Schotz, Cornbread, Rich Wince, and Paul LaCava all got to Checkpoint #2 before 4pm. I figured these were the only guys that had a shot at it. I knew Chris was hurting, so I counted him out. I had been told by text message that Cornbread dropped out due to a knee issue at Gladbrook, so he was done. That left Wince and LaCava. Every minute that passed pushed the clock closer to 11pm, and I was figuring that post 11:00 o'clock, the chances for a sub-24 T.I. would become astronomically harder to come by until by 11:30pm, I figured there would be no chance at all.
Eleven went by, and still no sign of riders. It was getting really chilly under a big fat moon now. 11:11, and I saw a faint, bobbing orb, then two! Two riders separated by some 100 yards or so. I saw the first wobble slowly around the corner as I gave some faint encouragement. I asked the name, because I couldn't see the number! It was Rich Wince! Then came a very tired Chris Schotz. I was impressed very much that he had gutted it out this far after seeing how poorly he looked 98 miles back. But then again, I can't stress how hard these men were. The bad roads, the hills, and the miles were taking a toll. It took Chris Schotz almost exactly 8 hours to traverse the distance from Checkpoint #2 to where I stood. All with only one convenience store 10 miles from CP2.
Now there was about 60 miles to go. Who would make it? Would either man break the sub-24 hour barrier?
Next: Of Joy And Sorrow
NOTE: If it is not raining tomorrow, there will be a 3GR at the regular time, regular place. (8:30am, Gateway Park, Cedar Falls,IA)