Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Trans Iowa v14: The Moon And Cows

A fat, nearly full Moon over Iowa
"I don't mean to be a bitch about speed, but try to keep it under 20", I said to MG. This was no less the third time I asked him to back down the speed for the lead out. He was excited and it is hard to drive that slow. I know from having done this a few times myself. Plus, the spectacle of the lead out of a Trans Iowa field is not to be missed. We had a seat in the front row to view it, literally, and knowing it was the last Trans Iowa made it special for both of us. Yes......MG was in on the secret. He was one of three people I had confided in to help me decide this over 10 months prior.

Then the turn on to 37th Street and gravel. We were off now on our own. The fat, nearly full moon graced the Iowa rural landscape in its luminescence. Honestly, I cannot remember a lot about talking about much besides the commands to turn this way or that and the conditions of the race which were going to affect the riders.

The gravel was dry, very dusty, and loose. Despite that, I figured the event would be fast. MG agreed. We figured that riders would start showing up at Hartwick, Iowa, the location of Checkpoint #1, shortly after 6:00am with a guessed at 18 mph average speed. There were fast enough guys in the field to do this, for sure. Dan Hughes, the defending race winner, Greg Gleason, Eric Brunt, and Walter Zitz, all former winners, along with Luke Wilson, Corey Godfrey, and some new hot shots. There was no reason to not believe at that time that the event had a sub-24 hour look to it.

The Moon slightly obscured. It was a beautiful start to T.I.v14
The wind from the day before had subsided and the forecast was for light breezes, lots of Sun, and comfortable temperatures. It was perfect weather, or so it was seeming to be. The wind factor didn't seem to be one, with the possible exception of Sunday. It was supposed to pick up in intensity all Sunday morning, but that probably would not affect the leaders.

The air was dry though. Really dry by Iowa standards. 40% humidity with any wind is no joke and I figured a few people would likely suffer issues related to that throughout the day. But the event seemed to have this record number of finishers feel to it at the start. Kind of like v12, which saw 42 folks finish. Still, everything has to line up for that to happen. Just having the roads be as sketchy and loose at the beginning as they were was pause to consider that a record finishing rate wasn't going to happen. Plus, my friend Wally had driven out further on Friday on the course and pronounced the roads as being really rough. Hmm......

But in the meantime, it was just a bumpy ride toward Checkpoint #1 with MG. Suddenly the phone sprang to life, startling me. It isn't uncommon to have a DNF call this early in the event, but seasoned Trans Iowa veterans like Jeremy Kershaw usually are not at the the other end of those texts and calls. Unfortunately, it was him, and respiratory problems forced him to abandon. Both MG and I were shocked and saddened. But onward we went.

MG and I stopped at the intersection of four Level B roads to soak in the atmosphere.
Just before CP#1 there was a Level B road with a four way, all Level B road intersection. I asked MG to stop and we walked around a bit, just taking it all in. The sound of song birds was in the air, and the hollow where the intersection was gave the rising Sun a perfect chance to back light the rural landscape. It was a "calm before the storm" moment, since several cyclists would soon be descending upon this spot. We hopped back in the Subie and continued to the checkpoint location.

Much later than expected, the lead group finally arrives at CP#1
We arrived when a few of the other volunteers pulled up. The invasion of Hartwick, Iowa had commenced! Dennis and Christina Grelk were already there. Mike Baggio, Jess Rundlett, Dori Jansma, Todd Southworth, and Julie Fisher rolled in. Last but not least, Patrice Parsons joined us. We all chatted, laughed, and made prognostications about the day's events. Then the cows kicked in.

Hartwick is not very big. It is a village, maybe five or six blocks for the entire place, and seemingly surrounded by herds of cows. Cows that were not happy. Not by the evidence of their melodious bellering, which filled the air. Despite our hi jinx and the loud sounds emanating from the bovine residents of Hartwick, we were alone out there in the street. Perhaps the invasion of outsiders was so alarming we frightened the few residents of Hartwick away into hiding behind curtains and blinds. Or, perhaps they just couldn't have cared less.

As six o'clock passed we strained our eyes Southward down the main street of Hartwick looking for any signs of riders up. Six fifteen went by and still nothing. Puzzled looks at 6:30am and we were still waiting. Maybe this was a harder day than any of us imagined. Finally, at about ten minutes to seven, riders appeared. About nine strong, this group included Greg Gleason, Luke Wilson, Dan Hughes, and Walter Zitz. The usual suspects. Then, something surprising happened. Dan Hughes stated he was waiting for his girlfriend, who was also in the event. He poked fun, or made some comment which elicited a terse comeback from Gleason. Then the sneaky Eric Brunt tried a surprise escape and bolted on out of the checkpoint. Hughes bellowed that the chasers better get going, and the small group of riders was off again, with Nick Legan bringing up the rear.

Dan made some small talk with us and then we bade him farewell. MG and I hopped back into the Subie in hot pursuit of the lead group in the bright morning Sun.

Next: Hanging Out At Trans Iowa

2 comments:

MG said...

What an awesome weekend... Thanks Brother!

Robert Ellis said...

Those first couple of hours riding TI were some the most magical moments I’ve ever spent on a gravel bike. And I want to thank you for that!