Friday, May 02, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: The Gathering Tempest

Jeremy Fry follows the three leaders to check them through CP#2
4:33pm, April 26th, 2014:

The three leaders all roll into the checkpoint together. The mood was mostly businesslike, but they also weren't in a huge rush either. Gleason was smiling, relaxed, and calm, Schotz looked a little worked over, but I knew he could take a lot  of abuse from his previous T.I. performances. The third rider, John Williams was a curious study, to my mind. He was very relaxed and didn't appear at all tired or even concerned about getting moving again. In fact, he made a remark to the effect that he had stopped to take care of some nutrition or take a nature break or something earlier and had ridden back on to catch Schotz and Gleason. Even when Greg Gleason shot off down the road with a slightly weary looking Schotz dragging behind, Williams actually then pulled over to relieve himself before riding down the road and making contact with the two leaders easily. This spoke of a quiet confidence and reserve energy on the part of Williams, or maybe it was his way of saying, "Look- you aren't getting away from me and I can do whatever I want, stop or go, and I will beat you." 
Schotz, Williams, and J-Fry, (Left to Right)

Well, whatever it was, I found that the dynamic of the event was shaping up to be quite interesting. The course would now tack West and Northward, giving the riders some relief from the high winds, which had to be 25-30mph with higher gusts by this time. These riders would likely stop at the next convenience store up the road, refuel for the night, and then motor on. I needed gasoline for the night time portion of the event, so I also needed to stop at that convenience store. I bade the checkpoint volunteers goodbye, and passed the three leaders before another short B Road section. I noted that my tires were kicking up a lot of dirt as I drove through here.

A cloud of dust chases me up a B Road
I made my stop at the convenience store in Norway before the leaders made it there, but I couldn't have been too far ahead of them. I then entered onto a straight Westward shot of really flat roads. The first major relief of the ride from the stiff Easterly wind which was unrelenting in its force. The wind was definitely the story of this day now. It was knocking out folks from the event left and right by this time. In fact, after 4:00pm my phone started an almost non-stop activity until about midnight! I texted Jeremy at Checkpoint #2 any DNF's I was getting called in and he was forwarding the DNF's at the checkpoint to me so we had a constant up to date count on riders still in the event. At one point Jeremy texted me the following:

"I wish it was some hot chick texting me all the time instead of you....!"


A Gathering Tempest- Image by W Kilburg
 It was later in the afternoon when I made a social media move that gained a life of its own afterward. Jeremy texted me the following which prompted my action:

6:19pm: "19 through (the checkpoint). Johnson Fuller group just rolled out. Corey with them. Fuller was going to quit but rolled on."

So I immediately stopped the truck and Tweeted the following:

"@RassysBikes Hey! @zenbiking needs your positive vibes! Rolled thru CP2 but hurtin fer certain. #TIV10"

With that and the steady rate of folks stopping their rides due to the winds and hills, I was really busy. The phone was bleeping and blurting while I was trying to drive and of course, I had to stop a lot to record DNF's and text them back to Jeremy. People were re-Tweeting and referring to my Tweet about Steve Fuller the rest of the night, which only added to the mayhem of phone activity. Meanwhile the skies were looking ominous. Clouds were swirling in and the wind was still pushing from the East at the high speeds it had been for several hours. I had heard several reports coming in from Wally that bad weather was expected for the evening. Honestly, it was a huge concern, but I was so busy I didn't have time to worry about that just then. The weather would do what it was going to do. I just hoped that we could get as much dry weather riding in ahead of whatever rain we might get that we could. Severe storms? I'd deal with that if it happened. Honestly, I didn't think that this atmosphere seemed very conducive to severe weather. The high winds and dry air were just not the right conditions for it. The Sun was setting in the West, and I was just North of Highway 30 when it finally sank into a cloud wrack not to be seen again until later Sunday morning. 

Andrea Cohen feeling the effects of a hard day in the saddle near the end of Saturday. (Image by Jeremy Kershaw)
The sky looks almost like a Van Gogh painting at the end of Saturday. 
I rolled onward to the North as the light of day was fading. The winds were still at the 25-30mph range straight out of the East, and the clouds were gathering. As we like to say here in the Mid-West: "This wind is gonna blow something up!", and just what it was, I didn't know. I knew whatever riders were left, it would be a big help to them to hit the Westward section of the course now, which there were three of that had a decent length. However; the Northward section was one of the toughest ones in the course, and with a strong cross wind, it would be a really hard slog. 

As I was driving along, taking down messages and sending texts, I thought, " is picking up!", meaning that the long windy day was finally taking its toll on the field. It was quite apparent that by this juncture in Trans Iowa V10, it would not be a repeat at all of the numbers of finishers that we had the previous year. Whomever was able to persevere through what had already occurred so far was going to earn themselves a very special finish. However; it wasn't over yet. Not by a long shot, and there were going to be some crazy things going down in the next twelve hours.

Next up: The Fireworks Begin!

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