Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Trans Iowa V11: Final Recon Report

Sunday mornin' comin' down- Recon started bright and early.
Thanks to Wally & George, who once again volunteered to drive five hours to Grinnell and spend a day bouncing around on gravel to check out my cues, Trans Iowa has had an excellent reputation for accuracy. The triple checking of cues never ceases to turn up mistakes and suggestions for fine tuning the cues. I am deeply grateful and without their assistance, along with that of Jeremy Fry, I would not be capable of doing cue sheets with such a high degree of accuracy and clarity as I have been able to provide with their capable guidance. If you get the chance to meet one of these three fine gentleman, please give them a hearty thank you. They more than deserve it.

The recon went pretty smoothly and, as mentioned, turned up a few things I need to straighten out before I can print up all the sets of cues we'll need for T.I.V11. However; the intentions of this post for you readers is to let ya'all in on how things are shaping up out there for the course. So, here is what I saw and my comments......

It's Really Dry Out There! Despite the recent rains, we didn't notice very many wet areas at all, and when we did, it could be chalked up to the rain received Sunday in parts of Iowa. Creeks and streams were noted to be extremely low, and the gravel was dusty, loose, and blown out in many places. However; I wouldn't read too much into that right now. With two weeks to go, the county maintenance crews will be changing things in many places. In fact, we saw lots of freshly laid gravel all over the route.

This was typical: Fresh gravel. Deep, and looser base. Hard to drive on. 
George was driving his Ford truck, and he had his hands full a lot of the day. Looser gravel spots would grab a wheel and cause the big truck to jerk sideways and lurch as the momentum of the wheels would be sucked away. We saw a lot of work that needed to be done in areas as well, and I am certain that if dry weather persists over the next two weeks, we'll see more of that fresher gravel and grading to help smooth out those softer spots.

The B Roads were dry, but many were rutted so badly that we're not sure they will be rideable anyway if they do stay dry.
B Level Maintenance: Again, we didn't get to see two or three stretches of B Level Maintenance road, but what we did see was dry. That's good, but they were not "smooth". There were many badly rutted dirt roads and some were so bad that we had a hard time keeping the bottom of the big ol' Ford from scraping on the dirt due to the unevenness of the roadbed.

There are a few low water crossings. Only one had water actually running over it, and it was maybe a couple inches deep at best. However; we do have re-routes available for these if necessary. I am having the capable help of Tony McGrane and Mike Johnson, who has been in five Trans Iowas, to help advise me on roads like this ahead of riders going through. Again- we'd like to have it be challenging, but there is a point where we will make a re-route if we feel the conditions warrant it. Right now my feeling is it would have to rain a lot over several days to get us into a range where this will become a problem. You can check the 14 day forecast yourself and see what I am seeing. I don't see a problem........as of now. 

Overall Thoughts: My feelings now are that this course is challenging in ways that are new for Trans Iowa.....at least from a recent Trans Iowa perspective. I have taken several comments made in recent years to compile what I think is going to be a very different course than I have devised before. I think once the riders that are Vets of T.I. have seen it, you'll hear them remark about certain features, and the truth of what I am saying will come out. I think it adds a dimension we haven't exploited before, and we'll see how it plays out. For these reasons, I am a bit anxious and worried about this Trans Iowa, more so than in years past. I'm not worried about the riders- the roster is stacked with veteran talent. The Rookie Class is small, and there is a lot of experience that will be out there this time. The riders should be fine. What I am concerned about is how this course will be received and how it will measure up to past T.I. courses. Time will tell. When you do something risky, I guess being anxious and worried a bit is only natural.

For some other perspectives on Trans Iowa V11, the Geezer Ride 2, and  on how you can get some images from Trans Iowa, see Wally Kilburg's post HERE.

Anyway, time to get cues cranked out and put the finishing touches on T.I.V11.

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