|Mike Curiak @ T.I.V1's Algona checkpoint|
Remembering back to the very first Trans Iowa, it was a weekend when weather played an important role in the outcome of the event. Like many T.I's afterward, the "weather was the wild card", and of course, we had no idea what we were in for standing on that cold, chilly April morning on a bright, sun drenched high school parking lot. The forecast was for a sunny day, albeit a bit on the chilly side with highs forecast to be in the lower 50's.
I recall that the early morning was a bit chilly and I was pretty bundled up for a bright, late April day. (By the way, that's me in the flouro jacket in the image.) I didn't recall the wind being all that big a deal early on, but as the day wore on, it ratcheted up to at least a 25mph constant blast with huge, heavy gusts coming in that probably topped out at 40mph later on that day. It was from the North-Northwest, and resulted in a side wind for most riders. Even so, this wind prevented drafting and was causing mayhem out on the course. Folks were crashing, but more importantly, they were getting fatigued and dehydrated at alarming rates.
By the time many riders had reached the first town out, Primghar, there was a lot of dropouts. Moving on from there, even more riders were calling it quits. The wind was just wreaking havoc on the small field of 52 riders. Veteran endurance rider Mike Curiak saw this, and he was smiling. Yes, he was happier than a pig in the mud, because Mike knew a thing or three about being in the wide open and riding against gusty, stiff winds. That wasn't a foreign concept to one that had several Iditarod and Great Divide rides under his belt.
I was waiting things out in the only checkpoint of Algona, marveling at how long it was taking riders to get 127 miles down the road. The start had been at 8am, and still by 4pm no riders had pulled into Algona yet. When they finally started showing up, Mike rolled in and headed straight for his, (then allowed), drop bag support and was changing out his clothing when I approached him and asked how it was going for him out there. He replied without hesitation, "Do you think you could ratchet up the wind a bit more?"
I thought he was being sarcastic, but he was dead serious. Mike knew more wind would favor a rider like himself, one who had ridden literally 100's of miles at a crack in such winds. I was astounded by his request, and it made me look at him in a new light.
Mike was one of the very few to soldier on from Algona, but a knee overuse injury cropped up about 3/4's of the way into the event and he bailed out in Osage, Iowa late Saturday evening. While the wind had died out by sundown Saturday evening, it had taken its toll on the field, guaranteeing a small finisher's list of 9 riders for that edition of Trans Iowa.