Friday, May 01, 2015

Trans Iowa V11 Report: The Carnage

Greg Gleason at CP#1 (Image by Wally Kilburg)
The Carnage: 

I rolled into Guernsey around quarter to seven in the morning. The Checkpoint was all set up and the volunteers were all huddled under a small, tin roofed shelter in a small public park just off the main road coming into town. The bright orange lettering on the black vinyl banner affixed to the support poles of the shelter declared this as Trans Iowa V11's checkpoint. Rain slashed down sideways being driven by a strong Northeasterly wind. I got out of the truck and darted over to the shelter house.

Underneath were Steve Fuller, Tim Bauer, Patrice Parsons, Alex Oenes, Todd Southworth, Mike Johnson, and Tony McGrane. The floor of the tiny shelter was wet and covered in mud. Todd said that dust blew in right before the rain started and then the water ran in on top of that. It was a mess, but at least we were out of the elements.

Questions abounded and I was asked "What if no one makes it on time?" To which I answered, "Well, the event would be over. We'd be done and we'd all go home." Tim Bauer then quipped, "Does that mean we'd have to give back these awesome t-shirts?" Cue laughter. Of course, I said they could keep them! The volunteers deserved at least that much for their efforts.

Not long afterward, Wally, George, and Jason showed up, and they began to try and see where good shots could be taken and were prowling the streets of Guernsey like they owned the place. I am quite sure that the residents were frightened. I told the assembled volunteers that we likely outnumbered the entire population of Guernsey, and certainly we would once the riders started showing up.

The riders........ Where were they? I figured they would be there around 7:30am to 8:00am, but that time had long gone by. It was 8:15am, and Ben Welnak, my partner was sure the event was going to be a very short one. 8:20 came and Wally, Jason, and George were standing, peering into the grey morning to the East. Suddenly Wally shouted something and pulled his camera up to his face to focus. A rider! It was about 8:24am. A minute later, Greg Gleason rolled up to a small round of applause and hoots and hollers. He didn't stick around long. Steve Fuller asked him, "Are you sure you want your cue sheets?" to which Greg replied, "That's what I'm here for." He wrung about a pint of water out of his waterlogged gloves and packed his cues carefully away. Then with a fist pump he sped away Westward not to be seen again for several hours.

The T.I.v11 banner displayed in Guernsey Iowa
The checkpoint cutoff time then expired. No one else was in the event! This was unprecedented, and the volunteers were a little befuddled. Should they go home? Ten minutes later, Bruce Gustafson rolled in and looked waterlogged but was in good spirits. Not long afterward, a foursome including John Gorilla and Eric Brunt rolled up. Then single riders, pairs, and triplets of riders were showing up. It wasn't long before the little shelter was packed with people shell shocked, shivering, and looking for ways to get back to Grinnell.

Suddenly the volunteers had a purpose. They were tabulating DNF's, getting folks into warm vehicles, (Steve Fuller- thank you- amongst others.), and they were giving riders information they needed to make decisions on what they could do. Meanwhile my phone was blowing up with texts and social media alerts. There were phone calls and updates to make. Then, in a spectacularly overlooked way, my battery died on the phone due to my not thinking about cell coverage in a tiny, "off the beaten path" village. 2015 there are plenty of places with no, or very bad cell phone coverage. I'm sure you'd never think of Iowa when this coverage issue comes up, but ya know, they don't call it the boonies fer nuthin'. So, I had to yoke my phone to the truck and run back and forth with info for Steve to tabulate so we could keep track of all the riders. Meanwhile, the shelter looked like a scene from a locker room after team lost a football game.

Bruce Gustafson's Raleigh Tamland Two doesn't look too bad considering. The rain tended to wash stuff off the earlier arriving bikes.
John Gorilla leads in a foursome. They purposely waited to make sure they missed the cutoff. 

Mark Johnson shares a laugh at Checkpoint #1. Craig Cooper of Bikes To You is on the left here.

A couple more riders wander in.

Andrea Cohen chats with an onlooker just after arriving in Guernsey.
A shelled rider stares blankly as he rests at Checkpoint #1.
Riders showed the after-effects of being on the messy roads. 
Jeremy Kershaw rolls in as I chat with Andrea Cohen.
The rutted lead up to the shelter. We were busy up till about 11:00am
While the rains let up, the winds did not, and riders were straggling in up until about 10:30am. That's when we saw the last riders that we would see there at Checkpoint #1, a full two hours past the deadline. Between those two hours, Guernsey was a beehive of activity with cars, trucks, and SUV's picking up shelled out racers and getting them back to Grinnell to get them cleaned up and fed. In the meantime, MG got to feeling better and drove down to see what the deal was. Tony and Mike went off in search of Greg Gleason, and after the last riders were picked up, MG and I went up the road a piece to get a real meal. I hadn't eaten anything but a few mini-donuts since 3:00am.

I destroyed a breakfast skillet and then MG and I turned our attention to rendezvousing with Tony and Mike as we searched for Greg Gleason's whereabouts.

Next: Grinding To A Halt

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