|Should this man have won the first Trans Iowa?|
That first event was a real education for both Jeff and I. Probably more so for me than anyone else. Our plan going in was that Jeff would actually ride the event. He was doing loads of "double secret" training, logging centuries and 150 milers in the night getting ready to put the hurt on the field of riders. I think it was a point of pride for Jeff. He had all these heavy-hitters coming from the endurance community to his home state, and he wanted to put on a show.
Well, that didn't pan out very well, since that heavy wind sucked the life out of him and many other riders. I watched as all the carnage went down in Algona and only a handful of riders made it out of town a little before six in the evening. Jeff's parents stayed behind in Algona to tally the riders staying in the event or dropping out. Now I was all on my own, going forth into the night to finish up putting on this beast of an event.
Of course, early on it wasn't very tough. I made my way past the few riders headed toward Forest City and then I hit Pilot Knob State Park, where we were to have the riders go down about a mile long, heavily pock marked bridleway. None of this was marked, and I had never been on it, nor laid eyes on it till the very moment I arrived with my flags and course tape. Things just got a whole lot tougher!
|The Red Bull tent just about didn't survive the wind!|
Behind me, chaos broke out at Pilot Knob. Riders were confused as to where to go to enter the bridleway, the tape and flags were hard to see in the dark, I guess. However; several onlookers who had figured out where the course was going were on hand and those familiar with the park were directing riders to pass through on the park roads. Not what we intended, but since there were no "course marshals" what were we to have done? Live and learn lesson #1.
Now the wind died out to nothing, the stars shone in the velvety black vault above, and a moon rose up shining brightly. The temperatures dove down to the freezing mark. It was a cold, raw night. I had reconned the route to a little town called Lourdes on Highway 63 when I decided to park for a while and risk a bit of a nap. I was waaay ahead of any riders, so I figured it would be okay. I slept in five or ten minute fits and then would wake up, afraid that I was going to miss someone coming down the road. It was past 2am in the morning by now. I would see flickering lights, think they were riders, stare for ten minutes, and then realize it was a farmers yard light. Then I would repeat the process five minutes later, staring at the same light, swearing I just saw it move!
|The famous "podium shot". L-R: Hannon, Ryan, Dolpp|
The plan was that I was to call a volunteer for the Decorah Time Trials to let them know who and how many were headed their way. Our finish line was the same as the time trials, which was to get underway later that morning. I parked just out of town on the North side of Cresco, parked the van well off the road, and walked to and fro, shivering in the now sub-freezing temperatures at about 4:00am in the morning.
I was beside myself with chills and I needed to hop into the van to warm up. I hit the motor and turned the heater on high, all the while trying to keep an eye out for any signs of a rider. I ended up dozing off for a second.......or was it longer? I was sure it was a head bob and nothing more. I jumped out of the van and into the chilling night air to awake my tired body and mind.
Just then I saw a bobbing, bluish-white set of lights. A rider! The first I would see since leaving Algona hours before. It was Alex Dolpp. I could tell by his brightly colored kit and the Specialized mountain bike he was riding. Wow! He had been in the lead out of Algona and still was leading! (Or was he?) I watched as the Sun began to brighten the Eastern sky and finally crest the hills towards Decorah. I saw six more riders go by. I called in my results as riders were spotted.
Suddenly my cell sprang to life. It was a volunteer in Decorah who said that he had three riders in, two of which I had not notified him of! It seems that Ira Ryan and Brian Hannon had come in ahead of Dolpp. How did that happen?! It must have been when I fell asleep for a moment! I was ticked off at my lapse of consciousness and felt horrible about that. Jeff and his Dad eventually relieved me of my duties and we went and had a bite to eat for breakfast.
|Ira Ryan, (in front here), early in T.I.V1|
So it was as I was perusing Ira Ryans custom frame site months after Trans Iowa had finished and I accidentally clicked the mouse over an image on his front page. It led me to an "Easter egg" of sorts- Ryan's Trans Iowa story! I had never read it, or even knew it existed. In it, he told of the later hours on Saturday evening. He and Brian Hannon were riding together behind Alex Dolpp. It told of when they lost sight of his tail light and apparently made a wrong turn, or went straight and missed a turn. Then they came across some drunks in a car who led them to a near by county blacktop where Ryan and Hannon cut the course before eventually getting back on East of Cresco, essentially leap frogging me and Alex Dolpp in the process!
Well, well! Now I knew I had not missed Ryan and Hannon going by me because they never did! I felt justified, but as this discovery happened about six months past the ending of Trans Iowa, there was nothing anyone could do. Ira Ryan won Trans Iowa partially because of our ineptness in putting the event on and due to a decision made in the heat of the moment by he and Hannon that led to their getting ahead of Dolpp.
I decided to just keep my mouth shut back then and let it roll. But it is one of those stories that I feel is a good one to tell now. Obviously, this all set into motion many changes in the way we were going to put on V2, and I'll move on to that event next week.