Saturday, February 08, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #36

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....

The lead group gets in with about 15 minutes to spare at CP#1
 David and I arrived in Monroe, Iowa where we had a checkpoint stop set up about 50-ish miles into the event. We had one B Road in between the start and the checkpoint, because I figured that everyone needed to have one B Road experience before Checkpoint #1 in case they didn't get any further. Well, that one B Road accounted for much mayhem. The rain and lightning certainly had its effect as well, since afterward I heard stories about guys hiding in ditches and how bad it was to see and ride on the peanut butter like roads.

Well, all our volunteers were in place and we were wondering how much the weather would delay the riders when it began to become apparent that we may not have many riders actually get through at all before the cut off time. There was something like 15-20 minutes before the cut off when here they came! The lead group had been spotted.

The way the small group approached us was almost as if they had already finished the race. Arms were raised in "victory", and smiles and casual paces were the order of the moment there. You could tell the riders had been through a tough spot and were still trying to piece together what had just happened.

The B Road that did a lot of folks in: Image by S. Fuller
The riders were soaking wet and muddy. They were not well organized, but a few slipped on up the road while others weighed their options for convenience store fare and a brief regathering of strength and thought. David and I decided we'd better get outta town and catch up with the lead group and scope out the road ahead. But not before a bit of a confrontation that got a bit testy.

There was a friend of a rider in Trans Iowa that wanted to know where Checkpoint #2 was so he could go on ahead and sit there and wait to see his friend go by. Well, this was one of the things we were wise to from T.I.v5 and was the reason we were not giving away checkpoint locations anymore. In fact, the volunteers at CP#1 had no idea where CP#2 was, and this particular fellow had already exhausted that resource before asking me. I reiterated that we had announced at the Pre-Race Meat-Up and in blog postings beforehand that the locations were secret. Well, this guy got ticked off and told me he'd find out some way. I stated that if I or anyone else I knew reported him anywhere near the checkpoint his friend would be DQ'ed, which really set the guy off. He stormed away and David and I made our way up the course. That wouldn't be the last I'd hear about this guy, though I wouldn't hear about what he did until after T.I.v6 was over.

Apparently he found my home phone number and called it. He got a family friend who happened to be there watching my kids at the time. He badgered her about the location of CP#2, which she had no idea about, (and really, she had no idea about what he was talking about at all, since she only knew Trans Iowa was a bicycle race I put on), and finally the guy hung up on her. This didn't set well with me at all, and precipitated a stern response from me, but that can wait till later.......

The leaders just past CP#1: The roads were a mess!
Meanwhile the leaders were headed West and North of Monroe for a bit on some rain soaked, soft roads. The going looked absolutely brutal as we passed them by. Amazingly, John Gorilla and Joe Meiser had pulled a slight gap on the group here. A gap that would grow and stay away for the rest of the event.

The Sun actually came out for a bit during this stretch and I remember thinking we may recover from that crazy rain storm and lightning and have a decent event after all. This was tempered by the call from CP#1 which informed us that 30 out of the 58 that had started failed to pass through the checkpoint in time. David and I kind of figured that might be the case, but to have had the field decimated by so much so soon was a bit disheartening at first. Suddenly David piped up and said something to the effect that Trans Iowa was supposed to be tough and to have it any other way was not really in the spirit of the event. I agreed to that, but I still felt bad for those who were stymied by the events of the morning.

That's not a trick image of a Hot Wheel! We really saw this past CP#1
The rest of the morning was basically taken up with dealing with a B Road past Pella, which was a pass through town on the route. We had decided that since we had so few in the event yet and that those folks were desperately close to missing time cut offs that this particularly nasty, wet, clay B Road was unnecessary and would likely put people outside the time limit. We made our reroute and went back to see that someone, (likely Meiser and Gorilla), had already walked down it, missing our flags at the point we were trying to head folks off at. So David and I went back to that corner and arrived just in time to head off the chasers and set them straight. This was all a rather hectic and hurried part of the event for me and David, but it reminded me of our T.I.v4 efforts and this wasn't that bad.......yet!

We decided that with some further DNF's since CP#1 that we were not far from seeing everyone left in the event! We thought along the lines that if we went backward to the Pella convenience store near the east end of the city, we could catch the riders going by and make them aware of what was going on with the reroute.

On the way there we saw Matt Braun and told him what was going on and then we caught a couple riders at the convenience store. There wasn't much time for anyone further back to actually make the cutoff in the town where CP#2 was, but David and I decided to hang out there anyway, since we had already covered the roads up to CP#2 and had come back on the course to the place we were then. We had some down time, so we spent it there.

Next: Decisions, decisions, decisions....

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