Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Trans Iowa V11 Report: Hopes Dashed In A Lonely Truck

The time when I give the riders my "Fatherly Admonishments" just before the 4:00am start. (Image by Wally Kilburg)
Hopes Dashed In A Lonely Truck: I woke up when MG's alarm went off, which he had set a little ahead of mine, and then I got up when mine went off. I had been drowsing off and on, but it wasn't the worst pre-Trans Iowa sleep I've ever had. About the typical, I would say. At any rate, I had gotten ready to go and was standing waiting on MG for several minutes before we were about to leave. MG had said something about feeling all hot and sweaty, but I didn't take too much note of it. We planned for MG to hit the convenience store for some grub and drinks, and I would park the truck around front. MG was to be my ride-along partner for this version of Trans Iowa.

I came around front by 3:30am and there were a handful of people milling about in front of Bikes To You already. Usually there are at this time before a Trans Iowa. One of them was surprise visitor, Jason Boucher, who made arrangements to ride with Wally and George and did not tell me. I saw him the night before, and it was a big surprise for me, so they were successful there. (Thank you Jason!) Jason then wanted to take my portrait in front of the shop, and afterward I went about checking on who else was there. Riders were trickling in, but at 3:45am, there weren't very many folks down there. There should have been many riders by this time. This was strange. I saw Sarah Cooper roll up with Fasterkatt boots and typical riding shorts but no leg coverings. "Wow!", I thought to myself, "I hope she'll be okay." Maybe she had some new "anti-cold" embrocation I wasn't aware of, but I thought this was odd. John Mathias told me that Joe Fox would be late. He overslept and John called and woke him up. Joe rolled up just as we were leaving, but George later told me three other guys went through the start line about ten minutes late!

Things were normal other than that, but where the heck was MG? Then, some bad news struck.....

The blackness of the Iowa night on the start of T.I.v11 was deep. This was my view for the first two hours of Trans Iowa v11.
MG was sick! He was vomiting and he didn't look good at all. I talked to him minutes before the start, and told him to stay in town, maybe rest up in Coop's loft, and we'd figure out a plan later. MG was terribly ill, and felt worse for leaving me alone at the start, but we didn't have time to figure anything else out. In a few short minutes, Trans Iowa v11 would begin, so I left MG and took my usual spot in front of the racers and gave them my usual speech. Then at 4:00am, I tooted the horn and we rolled off.......

It was an anti-climatic start from my view. Well, the news of MG's illness was part of that, but I also felt that there was a muted feel this time, an almost "hope against hope" feeling. Everyone pretty much understood it was going to be a very difficult start out there. Just what we all would face was not forecast. It wasn't supposed to be terrible, but in fact, it was. Worse than I imagined.
Once the Sun enlightened things, the full impact of the weather could be seen.

I hit the first section of gravel and the truck slowed as if I had hit the brakes hard. The gravel was really soft, mushy, and driving was treacherous. It's really hard to give you any idea of what it was like, but think of a bad, slick roadway in winter with lots of snow on it, and how you cannot drive one handed or you'd lose control. Maybe that image would give you some idea.

But that wasn't the worst of it. Not three or four miles into it, before I made my left hand turn on 90th going North, I saw it. Lightning. My heart sank.

Was this a T.I.v6? Would riders be scrambling off their rigs in near 30mph winds seeking abandoned farm houses and barns, ala T.I.v10? I was struggling with emotions at 30mph in a truck that was barely staying on the roads with limited visibility and I was alone. Another flash of lightning and I got sick to my stomach. This was my lowest point in T.I.v11 by a long shot. The darkness outside was only matched by my dark, depressed mood inside that truck at that time. I gotta say I really missed MG right then, and there are a lot more things I can't say about those nightmarish minutes in the dark.

Nuff said there..........

Riders struggled against a strong Easterly wind and sideways rain coming to CP#1. (Image by Wally Kilburg)
Later on, Wally texted me at 5:14am Saturday morning: "Riders passing us at 322 and 70. Rain hard here. Running at 15-16mph. Good spirits!"

I had trouble at that section of road. I had stopped to put up a Trans Iowa update there at about 4:30am and when I started out again, I nearly slid sideways into the ditch and mud was flinging off my tires as if I were really on a muddy B Level road. I was glad to read that the riders were in good spirits, but this rain, which didn't start in till about 4:20am, was getting worse, and the winds were relentless. The lightning tapered off and disappeared for good. That was one good thing.

This was a far cry from the ".24 inches of rain" we were supposed to get the entire day, and the winds were far more fierce than forecast. Trans Iowa was a lion this time, and was roaring loudly. Would anyone be allowed to pass? My hopes for a long, successful event were dashed then.

Next: The Struggle To Get There

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