Sunday, May 31, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: Here I Am Again On My Own

I've spent a LOT of time alone out in rural Iowa.
"Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

This deal was always about relationships with people and having fun. Part of the 'fun', for me at least, was being alone. Getting away from it all is something I have to do more so than most folks. I admire any of you that can navigate living in big, metropolitan areas, because there is no way I'd make it living in places like that. In fact, I try to avoid such places. That's me. I don't take anything away from anyone else that digs being in the big city life. If you get on with that, like I said, I admire your abilities to do so.

Anyway, the point is that I relished being alone in "The Truck With No Name" doing recon and adventuring out in the rural areas of Iowa. Trans Iowa v8 probably was one of the most remote, unexplored bits of Iowa countryside I ever experienced, besides some bits of T.I.v11's course recon which no one else but Jeremy Fry experienced with me. That'll be spoken of here in upcoming "Trans Iowa Stories".

Of course, I didn't really have a choice in the matter, since David Pals had quit being the co-director, and I was determined to do this all in my way, which meant that recon and route planning were on my shoulders. I guess this made me take stock in a lot of things in my life. This time alone- hours upon hours of it- left me no choice but to think about many things in my life. Things outside of Trans Iowa, like my family, my website work, and my job as a mechanic at a bicycle shop. I did a LOT of deep thinking and what is more, I never listened to music or the radio. I watched nature as the miles rolled by, and I saw a lot of things. This led to one strange practice of mine which was in regard to how I verified a "good route".

I have given special significance to birds of prey if I see them during recon. This eagle was seen during recon for T.I.v12.
I usually mapped out a route at home using various sources like the "Iowa Sportsman's Atlas", Google Earth, and the county PDF files on the State of Iowa's Department of Transportation site. But nothing really tells you about how a course flows, how a rider might see it, or how scenic the route is unless you get out there and either ride it on a bike or drive it. Of course, the possibilities for changing a route present themselves as well. You might, for instance, see a better road choice and go with that, but a map may not show you any reasons to make that sort of change.

Sometimes as I rode along I found myself second guessing my choices, and with no one else in the truck to bounce any ideas off of, I was left to wonder. Now I have to kind of take you back to my youth for a minute to help explain what helped me in route finding over the years.

See, when I grew up, it was during the height of the use of  the chemical DDT. They used it to get rid of mosquitoes, and as a general insecticide on farms, but it was found to be environmentally dangerous to birds of prey and humans. So eventually it was banned. That's when I started seeing hawks again. Then Bald Eagles, which I never saw as a youth, started appearing while I was in my 20's. Now they are a fairly common site in Iowa, but that didn't used to be the case.

So I always took it as a good omen, a sign I was doing things right, when I saw a hawk soaring, and especially if I saw an Eagle on the proposed route. Many times, in fact I cannot recall a time this didn't pan out, the direction a hawk was flying almost always coincided with my course choices. It was as if I was getting a 'second opinion' on what I was doing. Crazy? Well......many of you will think so. I found it to be of great comfort and it seemed to work out in the end. Make of that what you will. I have my deep beliefs on the matter and I am not changing them. The point is, that is what I did, and maybe it was just too much time alone, but hawks and Eagles were a welcomed sight on those recon trips for T.I.v8 and others where I saw these birds.

From the T.I.v8 course.
It was likely during the recon for T.I.v8 where I was solidifying my plans for getting out of the website "Twentynine Inches" and plotting my escape from Trans Iowa with T.I.v10 as the endgame there. It would be 2012 when T.I.v8 would be run, and by the end of 2014 I was looking for freedom from the tyranny of all these stressors in my life, and those two things were at the top of my list.

I guess the previous Trans Iowas were to blame. From T.I.v3 and v4 to the craziness of v6 and the messy T.I.v7 cue sheet/bridge out debacle which culminated in a very personal trial with two friends. Only T.I.v5 went without much issue. I guess I figured most any Trans Iowa would be leading my emotions through a painful knothole. I didn't know how many more I could take. But I figured getting through to ten of these events would be a goal to shoot for. So, if that was the case, why not make 2014 a really big year and retire from TNI too. Sounded like a plan to me.

And I would be able to get three more chances to get Trans Iowa 'right"- v8, v9, and v10. I figured that if I couldn't get it right by then, well I'd quit anyway. But that wasn't an option, really. I mean, I was going to get it right. That's just how it was going to be. Besides having all this time alone planning Trans Iowa v8, I was also constantly bearing down on myself. I was going to do this! It was a LOT of self-induced pressure.

Next: The Story Behind "300 Miles Of Gravel".


teamdarb said...

This reads like the narrative to the start of a book. Well written. I completely forgot about DDT.

Guitar Ted said...

@teamdarb - Thank you!

Tim said...

Why even raise the issue about what enhances your life? Eagles were revered by Native People. When I see bees or butterflies I take it as a sign, as like you from my youth. Claim it and use it. In my opinion we do not do enough reflection about life. Noise is too often used as distraction.