Sunday, February 09, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #37

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....

A muddied and weary Jeremy Fry resupplies in Pella during T.I.v6
 As the afternoon wore on, we were hanging out at Pella at a convenience store watching a group of about seven elderly ladies decked out in purple doing something related to the annual Tulip Festival. It was a surreal site seeing these nattily dressed ladies while we stood across the street all wet, muddy and watching our riders come through looking more like vagabonds from a traveling mud wrestling troupe than cyclists. Definitely two different worlds there!

I recall the most memorable thing was watching the Petervary's tandem riding skills as they came in, stopped and then left back out on the course. They stood, seated themselves, pedaled and coasted without exchanging any words. It was as if I was watching a well choreographed team from some bicycle based ballet do a performance for me. I think it was the most beautiful piece of riding I've ever witnessed, to be honest.

Well, we were calculating and trying to guess when the time would come when we could leave our post knowing we wouldn't see anymore riders come though with a chance to make the cut off in What Cheer Iowa. I remember seeing Eric Brunt come in right before we took off and saying to David that I didn't think he had any chance of making the cut off in What Cheer. We peeled out and headed up the road, thinking we'd seen the last of Eric for the day.

Me making a Trans Iowa Radio post in What Cheer: Image by K. Wilson
On the way over the roads were really nasty. David's Element pitched sideways this way and that as the all-wheel drive spat mud off the tires high into the air. The skies were looking grayer and heavy with rain. We were in communication with David's wife who was relaying weather conditions to us live from cable TV radar. What we were hearing was not good. More thunderstorms were on the way. By evening, the winds were forecast to rise to 30 miles per hour with higher gusts and there was a 100% chance of rain. So much for a "few tenths", which is what the prediction for the day was the evening before.

We made a brief stop at the checkpoint, after running into some light rain, and we bugged out again to re-route out some B Roads we knew were only going to put folks outside the time limits. I remember our frantic staking of flags and running into rain showers. The wind was picking up as well. It was late afternoon on Saturday, and although we were keeping a positive attitude, I think we both knew it was only a matter of time before we would be up against the weather again and having to make that tough decision to end the event.

Meanwhile, back at Checkpoint #2, we were getting news of a most unusual sort. Apparently there was a meeting between the leaders to decide whether or not to drop out "en masse" from Trans Iowa.

Dennis Grelk, Joe Meiser, Sean Mailen, John Gorilla L-R Image by K Wilson
This was fascinating. The rain had returned and apparently, with the deteriorating roads, the riders were calculating whether or not Checkpoint #3 was a reachable goal. Eventually, the majority of the riders quit right then and there, but Meiser and Gorilla decided to make off with an attempt to get to CP#3 anyway.

Meanwhile, while this was going on, six more riders blew through the checkpoint and continued on up the road. These riders were Corey Godfrey, Matt Braun, Eric Brunt (!!), Charles Parsons, and the tandem team of the Petervarys. About this time the skies unleashed their fury and it was raining again heavily.

I remember it well. David was driving on a gravel road just East and South of Brooklyn Iowa. We'd just crossed I-80, and a torrential barrage of rain came down, stopping us in our tracks. It rained so hard, we couldn't speak to each other due to the rain on the roof without yelling. The rain came down so hard it bounced off the road about two feet upwards! I looked at David and asked him if he wanted to be out here driving anymore. He said no. I said then we should call this thing off. We made some quick decisions, and decided to backtrack the route to head off Meiser and Gorilla, if we could. Then we'd worry about the other riders.

Next: End game at a malt shop.

No comments: