Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: Fire In The Sky

Three Rassy Amigos
3:00am April 26th, 2014- 

My iPhone alarm goes off and I jump up out of my borrowed bed and get dressed. Coop is already flitting about getting kitted up for his ride in T.I.V10. He can't find his jersey, but seems to have decided upon another. I brush my teeth and Coop then offers me a couple of organic granola bars which I take and check off the box in my mental notebook which called for something to eat for breakfast. In fact, I eat one of them right away.  I turned down an offer of coffee. Water is consumed instead as I had forgotten to drink any the entire day until the pre-race meeting and I was borderline dehydrated already. That taken care of, I take leave of Coop and jump in the truck, fire it up, drive around the block, and see a few racers already plying the deserted streets of Grinnell's downtown area. I am not a bit surprised by that. 

I jump out and familiar faces start showing up. I am engaged in conversations with several old and new Trans Iowa folks. I really have come to enjoy this part of Trans Iowa. It's an unspoken thing, but I realize that this may be the last time I see many of them for quite awhile, unless, perchance they finish, and then the conversations might be picked up in about a day and a half from then.

A  day and a half to go until the end of Trans Iowa?!! 

Trans Iowans- Lined up and ready to roll! (Image courtesy of Wally Kilburg)
 I begin the usual line 'em up routine when I see a couple of squad cars swoosh into view ahead of the assembled bikers. I walk up and approach the rear-most car and I spy a slight figured female officer in the drivers seat. She looks barely old enough to be in a car, let alone be a law enforcement officer, but hey! I am getting on in years! I ask her what is up, and she calmly lets me know they are there to blockade the two highways we have to cross to get out of town. I was a bit surprised by this, because last year the police didn't want anything to do with this and I figured it would be much the same this year. This news elated me as now there would be no need to have volunteers doing it.

I walked back and informed the racers of the new-to-me development and commence the countdown. I hop into the truck with a minute to go, buckle up, set the flashers, and toot the horn at 4:00am. We're off on this little adventure once again.

The first B Road was (mostly) rideable. (Image by W. Kilburg)
I used to feel a strange sense of trepidation when the horn was tooted back in the beginning, but anymore it is just a simple act and "here we go!", so I found it strange when it felt like a "normal thing" to be leading out a 100+ strong throng of cyclists to the edge of town so that they could ride 300+ miles of gravel. I guess I knew what to expect.

That was that there would be the typical rider chatter as we slowly rolled through the darkened neighborhoods to get to the countryside. Interestingly, those "Chatty Cathy's" became rather silent as the gravel road approached! I made the left turn, gunned the throttle, and roared off Northward on 20th with a stream of LED lights in my rear view mirror. A couple hills later it was just a glow in the distance. Oddly enough, that glow of a 100+ riders could be seen for miles away. It was as if a small city and its light pollution was following me down the rural by-ways.

I was cruising along with no real sense of purpose since I knew the roads were okay. I decided to skip around the B Road which was just seven miles into the course, and then I got disoriented a bit. I was off course for awhile, but managed to get myself back again. It was about this time that I found out I had forgotten a flash light to see the street signs with. Dang it! That slowed me way down since I had to aim the lights of the truck at the signs to see them. I didn't let it get to me too much as I knew the Sun would be illuminating things soon enough.

Fire in the Sky Part 1
 Suddenly, just after a Left turn to head Southward, I noticed a tongue of fire in my periphery vision to my left. What the.......?!!! What's on fire so high up in the sky? It was the waning crescent moon. Too bad I don't own a camera with a "long lens"! I stopped the truck and just gazed at it for a long time. I'd never seen anything like that in my life, and I've been up at all hours a lot in the past. (No.....I won't say what I was doing!) A little later on, Venus joined in and it was even more spectacular.
Image by Wally Kilburg

 About this time Wally texted me and said, "Half the riders rode the first B Road!"

This wasn't too surprising to me, as I could also see that what had been soft and mushy on the roads the day before was now rock hard. Moisture in the roads was going to be a non-factor in the early going of T.I.V10. The temperature, at 3:00am when I awoke was warm enough to go out in shirt sleeves and there was no wind. However; by the time the Sun was about to rise, an Easterly breeze had arisen and the air was chilly. Still, the skies were clear and it was obvious that it would start out being a great day to ride a bicycle.

Fire in the Sky Part 2
I camped out at the top of a long hill with a valley behind me to another distant hilltop. I figured it would be a great place to wait for the leaders to show up. In the meantime I enjoyed the warbling of various songbirds, the light breezes, and the rising of the Sun.

I thought about that old saw, "Red Sky at Night, Sailor's Delight! Red Sky in the Morning, Sailors Take Warning!" I tried to rationalize that it didn't look like we had clouds and we'd be okay. The forecast was saying something different though. Oh well! It didn't matter! What would happen later would happen. I tried to just enjoy the moment I was in.

I waited for the lead group and in the meantime, a couple of DNF's happen. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that one of them is my good friend Ari. I knew he was injured coming into Trans Iowa, but I was bummed that he wouldn't get to see much of the course this time around. Then I saw the leaders crest the hill and slowly descend into the valley. I grabbed my camera and set up a shot.

The early morning leaders
I then hightailed it to checkpoint number one and I was anxious to see my volunteers. So far, so good. Trans Iowa v10 was well underway, and things were looking fine at that point. But, you never know about this event!

Next up: A Turning Of The Screws

No comments: