Saturday, January 18, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #29

In mid-November, the idea of Trans Iowa was hatched. The year was 2004. In the ten years since then there have been many stories and memories. These posts will tell of the most prominent ones to my mind. Maybe I'll even spill the beans on some things you never knew....

Down, but not out- Charlie Farrow @ T.I.v5- Image by Cornbread
 David and I ended up in Traer early and were hanging out at the convenience store for quite awhile. It was "only" 66 miles from CP#2 to where we were, so we had thought that the leaders would be screaming into Traer long before sunset. In fact, we were pretty sure a sub-24 Trans Iowa was happening right in front of our eyes. Volunteers showed up, and a few "fans" of the event as well. Pretty soon, it was a bit of a scene, with beers, tales, and good times being had.

Meanwhile, out on the roads of Iowa's back country, a different scene was playing out that would later shock us. David and I were quite certain that a couple of the front runners were stronger, and perhaps a couple would fall away, given the blazing pace we were seeing. What we did not realize was that things were slowing significantly, and that the players were going to be shuffled in a way we didn't think possible.

I remember seeing the three leaders roll in and being shocked that Charlie Farrow wasn't with them. Tim and Dave were shaking their heads in dismay at the outcome as well. They revealed that Farrow had fallen ill to a stomach issue, and they had left him behind. David and I were a bit alarmed by this turn of events, but we were assured that Charlie wasn't in dire need, and that he knew his way around things like this. Later arrivals had seen him as well, and related that he had intended to continue.

Meiser, Praaman, and Ek set off into the night.
Meanwhile, we watched as Meiser, Praaman, and Ek, still with a significant lead over the rest of the remaining riders, set off into the night. Joe Meiser made a quip about chamois cream as he remounted his rig that drew a lot of laughter, and then they disappeared over the hill heading South to finish off the last 100 miles of the event.

As I recall, this point of the event was where David and I were crunching numbers in amazement and wondering how these three riders would hold up. They left with the last fringes of twilight still hanging in the Western sky. Surely they would come into Williamsburg far before the Sun rose. Surely this would be the magical sub-24 hour Trans Iowa I was warned could happen years before by Rich Gosen of Decorah. It was a tantalizing possibility, and David and I stuck around a bit after the three left, but the draw of what was going down finally had us back into the Honda and bouncing down the gravel road in hot pursuit of the three leaders.

Behind us a bit of a party broke out, as beer and pizza was proffered and weary riders came and went. Well, not all of them went, as there were a few DNF's recorded here as well. And there was Charlie Farrow, who managed to keep moving, and showed up in Traer before the checkpoint cutoff to get his final set of cues. He didn't look like he would make it, by all accounts we heard later in the evening.

Cornbread is done: Image by P. Buchanan
One of the surprises we heard about later in the evening was that front runner, Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey had to pull the plug in Traer due to a knee issue. He had been running up front the entire event up to that point, and David and I counted his efforts as cagey, since the front runners seemed to be pushing pretty hard to sustain their pace, and any let up would bring Corey right up to them, but it was not to be.

Meanwhile, David and I were bouncing around in an area that was known to David as belonging to the Meskwakie Indian Reservation, and he was pretty nervous about our being down that way in the middle of the night. Plus, we were lost! Eventually we worked it out and I recall that we were really puzzled as to why we couldn't figure the route out through there. That wasn't the only thing we were puzzled about though!

David and I were certain that we should have seen the three front runners by this time. However; as we pressed on past Toledo Iowa, we became increasingly amazed at how we hadn't seen them yet. We strained our eyes ahead in the night to see if we could spot any evidence of their passing. Soon we became aware of their tire tracks in the thick, loose gravel in the road. We were getting closer! Finally, at the end of a long,winding stretch of gravel, we saw the three leaders in the headlights.

A weary Jeremy Fry rests before taking off from CP#3- Image by P. Buchanan
It was something I don't think I will ever forget. As the wash of our headlights passed over the riders, you could see them nose to tail, heads down, and moving through the loose gravel at an amazing pace. It literally raised the hair on our necks as we watched for a few brief seconds, slack jawed at the effort and determination we were witnessing. Then they disappeared from view and David and I were in the pitch blackness of the night all abuzz at what we had just seen.

Well, I tell you what! David and I were determined to get the roads previewed and still get about an hour or so of shut eye at his place in Marengo before these speedy riders made their likely pre-dawn appearance at the finish line. We hit a convenience store in Belle Plaine that provided a weird remembrance. I recall being quite hungry, since David and I hadn't brought anything with us from Traer, and that the selection here was terrible. However; I scored a couple things to tide me over, and walked up to the counter where a young, likely high school, or just beyond, aged kid  was standing there by the doorway, talking with a like aged clerk. The fellow standing by the doorway has a cardboard box on his head. Yep! It was as ridiculous as it sounds. In my state of delirium, with nearly 24 hours of being awake, I wasn't sure if it was real, but to my dismay, it was.

Next: The ending of T.I.v5

No comments: