Sunday, November 02, 2014

Trans Iowa V11 Recon #2 Report: Part 1

Note: "Trans Iowa V11: A Look At The Rules" has been postponed in favor of this recon report, which will be a two-part post.

It is 5:30am. Temp- 17°F. Warming up the truck.
It is over. Trans Iowa recon, that is. Jeremy Fry and I knocked it out yesterday in a big, two part drive that saw us review a reroute and then come up and check out the last 80-ish miles that we didn't get to back in September. I am going to do a bit of a two part post on this. This part will reflect on the reroute, and Part 2 will be about the end of the course and have an overall commentary for the whole course.

The day started early and when I checked the weather on my i-Phone the weather ap said it was 19°F and snowing! Whaaaa......!!!! I ran over to the window and much to my relief, it wasn't doing anything of the sort. Bone dry. Just really chilly. The frost on the windows of the "Truck With No Name" was heavy, and it took a bit for the cab to come up to temperature. I suppose I better had get used to this now for a while! I checked the ap again- now it said 17°F! Excuse me......wrong direction!

I left the neighborhood to go grab some Coke for the drive, and on the way over a Sheriff's car pulls in behind me and follows me for a bit. muffler is grumbly and loud-ish, but that was weird. I grab my sodas and head over to get Jeremy only to have a Waterloo black and white unit follow me for several blocks as well. Maybe I am a subversive or something! Whatever!

We had a big drive ahead of us just to get to where we needed to be to start recon at.
My "office" for the day. (Image by Jeremy Fry)
Breakfast was up first on our docket, and after making sure we got a belly full of eggs, potatoes, toast, bacon, sausage, and coffee it was off to find our reroute starting point. As this section was to be found at the furthest points from T.I.V11's start in Grinnell, we had quite a haul to just get there. On the way, I was wary concerning the deer movement associated with the rut season, and my eyes were peeled for any sudden movements in the ditches. We did see one buck, and he was looking rather pitiful, what with his head down and his lumbering gait. Maybe he was following a scent on the ground? Finally we reached a point where I wanted to check on a road coming out of CP#1, and that turned out to be an excellent road to use, so it fell into the plan, but that isn't the reroute we needed to look at.

We found some Level B Maintenance roads that were graded recently, rather primitive, and remote.  
An 18 mile section of this. No kidding. All in one, straight, flat shot. 
Although the corn will undoubtedly be gone when T.I.V11 goes through here, I thought this was cool.

I'll be honest- after the first recon I was sorely disappointed in the route we found and since then I had been cooking up another plan. This was an all or nothing chance and if this reroute wasn't going to meet my ideas for Trans Iowa, I was ready to scrap this plan and redo the entire route. I'm happy to report that what we found today was about 97% really great. There are a couple question marks, and something at the end of the route that I will mention tomorrow. The reroute was almost all really a big improvement and fit into my vision I had arrived at for this version of Trans Iowa rather well.

The section features dirt roads, but not the gnarly, "almost-not-a-road" Level B roads I have used sometimes in the past. No- these are real roads that get maintained, driven on, and are just not covered in gravel. None of these were rutted, had seen any lensing out due to mud holes, nor did they appear to have been used for any 4X4 competitions. These roads looked really nice for dirt. The images above speak for themselves.
Taking a Level B Break!

The reroute can be thought of in thirds, I think. The first third is deadly flat. Jeremy and I were remarking that the single speeders will hate it. Especially if the winds are contrary. The roads were fantastic otherwise. Just really mind numbingly flat.

The next third can be thought of as having lots of twists, turns, and navigational challenges along with several short sections of Level B Maintenance roads. None of the dirt sections are longer than a half mile with the exception of two, and one of those may get rerouted out of the course at the last minute since it has a low water crossing. Low water crossings can turn into really bad situations depending upon the weather, so I'll be keeping a close eye on that, but the road is otherwise spectacular and cool. If this goes away, I have a ready made reroute that doesn't include more pavement.

The final third is full of rollers to start out, has a gnarly, super cool Level B, more rollers, and ends on a road that is a bit unusual, but not too tough at all. This part also will include Checkpoint #2 and a 24hr convenience store after that. (Yes- open 24 hours a day. We asked!) So, besides the possible deletion of that Level B, we're really stoked about this part of the course now. It fits into the overall plan very well, and should provide that necessary resupply point without worry for missing out, as in the last few years.

Then our big day was filled with county blacktops as we moved toward the ending miles planned for Trans Iowa V11. Look for the report and images for that tomorrow!

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