Saturday, February 08, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #35

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....

Riders gather in the gloom of night for the start of T.I.v6 in Grinnell
It was 2:30 am and David and I were mobile and milling about our room at the Comfort Inn & Suites. We hit out for the short trip to downtown Grinnell and along the way we spotted Steve Fuller carrying a heavy drop bag precariously while riding his rig to the start. We flagged him down and offered assistance which he gladly accepted and we then continued on to the start line, amazed that he was already on the way down there. It was shortly after 3am in the morning! Our surprises continued as we rounded the corner and here were more racers in front of Bikes To You already, milling about and getting ready to take off.

It was obvious as the 58 racers made their way to Broad Street that there was a high level of anticipation for this event.More so than I recall for some other Trans Iowas. "Coop" from the bike shop had spent the evening with his buddy Rob V in a trailer parked outside across the street from the shop and when they emerged, Coop fired up some nice, bright lights that made for a nicer start than it might have been

Ready to roll!
I had forgotten to have the waivers signed, so in a last minute frenzy I passed around a clipboard with waivers to sign and we didn't get started off right on time due to that. Whoops! I guess I was so focused on the signing in of the riders at the Pre-Race Meat-Up that I spaced off the waivers altogether.

The race vehicle for this version was David's Honda Element. I had intended to use my new-to-me truck, but David insisted we use his Element and as it turned out, it was a more roomy, more comfortable, and capable vehicle with its all wheel drive. It also would mark the first time I had not driven a Trans Iowa during the event, which felt odd.

So, the riders were set, and we tooted the horn a tad late, but we were off. The roll out was long, we had about 4 miles of pavement to get them out of town, but when we turned right off the pavement on 50th, hit the gas, and went over the first little hill, we were on our own in a little envelope of light. Everything else was foggy, and then pitch black. A flawless start to T.I.v6, and I was now the one giving the cues to David for turns and we were just a couple of oddballs out in the dark on a hilly gravel road, headed Westward. The roads were wet, we were on a long stretch, and the conversation was slim due to our being a bit groggy and the anti-climatic stage of this part of the event for us. But things would not stay very calm for long......

Light at the end of the tunnel: This sighting saved T.I.v6 from stopping early.
I noticed some flashes of light, and asked David about cell towers or what have you out this way. He wasn't sure, and with his focus on the driving, he wasn't seeing the soft flashes of light in the sky far away like I was. But soon it was unmistakeable. Lightning was in the area! We hoped it was not headed our way. We stopped on an overpass over I-80 and watched for the leaders. After we saw the pack coming we took off and headed South. That's when the skies cut loose and all the lightning strikes were now right outside of our windows!

It was getting really serious now and David and I were entertaining the idea of cutting off the event at the first checkpoint. We finally decided to try and get to the checkpoint first before we made any final decisions, but it was looking really bad. We were totally prepared to pull the plug on the whole thing when suddenly a fresh bit of light that wasn't branching out in bolts of deadly electricity was sighted dead ahead. The clouds were thinning noticeably, the rain, which had been torrential, was suddenly now nothing but a fine, drippy shower. Sunlight appeared high in the sky to the South. We were good to continue!

Next: The Sloppy Ends...

No comments: