Showing posts with label Trans Iowa V9. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trans Iowa V9. Show all posts

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #46

In mid-November, the idea of Trans Iowa was hatched. The year was 2004. In the ten years since then there have been many stories and memories. These posts will tell of the most prominent ones to my mind. Maybe I'll even spill the beans on some things you never knew....

This will be the final installment of this series. Thanks for all the kind compliments about it and for reading them.

Trans Iowa gets an award from the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce: Craig Cooper on my left here

 With V9, we had a lot of hoopla. Three sets of roaming photographers, an award from the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce, and the Trans Iowa radio set up. We had a record 91 starters, a record Womens open field, and folks riding in the event from the U.K. The Barn thing was all set to go, and to top things off, the weather could not have been much better. Even the wind was (mostly) a non-factor in the event.

A foggy morning to start T.I.V9: Image by A Andonopoulous
The nearly full moon was riding high in the sky at the start and there was a thick blanket of fog in the vales and valleys of Jasper County which made for a scene that produced a slew of outstanding images of riders and the countryside. It was almost impossible to get a bad shot that morning!

I remember stopping high up on a hill on E. 84th Street N and just sitting there for several minutes soaking it all in. I hadn't had the luxury of being in that sort of position before, and I took full advantage of it. It was totally a result of my lessons learned over the years of doing Trans Iowa that allowed for that.

In fact, I stopped twice more. Once to chat with fellow Trans Iowa fans and photographers Wally and George, and to chat with my friend Jason Boucher, who also was there on official photography business. Then again for a good look at the Sun rising over a Jasper County hill. Trans Iowa at this point was a dreamy day out in the Truck With No Name for me, but that would change past my visit at Checkpoint #1.

The Moon and Windmill: Image by M Lemberger
We had a leader's group came in and they took the wrong direction out of the village of Ira because they did not check their cue sheets. So I went blazing outta there in the truck to head them off at a place where the bike path crossed the course West of Ira. Fortunately they realized what had happened and turned back before I saw them. I figured things would go back to being calm then, but I was wrong.

The weather was good- too good- and I figured on more attrition at Checkpoint #1 then there was. My checkpoint folks were running out of cue sheet sets to Checkpoint #2! Fortunately a few clearer heads than mine were able to sort the matter out by finding a copy machine to borrow in the tiny village. Crisis averted, but a lesson learned yet again.

Then things really did quiet down. for the most part, the rest of the event was kind of boring from my perspective as far as any "adventure" went. No silly B Road antics in the truck, no big problems at all with the event. I did have a "whiskey spill" that required some hasty clean up and drying out of the waivers, but other than that little aside, Trans Iowa V9 went off without a hitch. We had a record 35 finishers and a first time single speed women finisher and a first time for a women with two finishes in Janna Vavre.

The finish line scene for T.I.V9 was one of the most memorable and impactful for me. I suppose having twice the average finishers was one reason why. Another was that it seemed that a lot of the finishers were really emotionally charged and showed it at the finish. Steve Fuller stands out in that regard.

Well, with no co-director, it was kind of an anti-climatic deal when I piled into the truck after everyone was gone and made my way home. Trans Iowa v9 was an awesome event by all accounts. I could have walked away a happy man that day and never put on another Trans Iowa again, but....

The restored barn where T.I.v9 finished: Image by W Kilburg
Epilogue: With that I conclude the look back at ten years of tales concerning this gravel road event. Obviously there were a lot of twists and turns coming up to this time and the impending running of T.I.v10. Even more obvious is the fact that this series was just my take on things. There are other opinions, views, stories, and thoughts on Trans Iowa out there and they may vary a bit in their telling of the story.

That said, this is my experience as I remember living through it. Trans Iowa has gone from an event I was just a helper in to becoming a big part of my life that I have a lot of passion for. Trans Iowa has gone from an idea that was mostly Jeff Kerkove's in the beginning to an event that I have made into whatever ya want to call it! I hesitate to quantify what that is for anyone else!

Of course, the big question on a lot of folks minds is "how long are you going to keep doing this?" I have hinted around a lot that pretty soon there would be no more Trans Iowa events put on by me the way that they have been. I will say that I set a goal for myself back around T.I.v5 that I wanted to get to 10 and see where I stood after that. This April, that goal will have been met......

I am, on the one hand, all finished with this event. It has been a huge tax on my family life and we won't even get into the financials and what not that went along with putting on this event through the years. I want to spend time with my son and daughter before they grow up and leave the house. On the other hand, I want this event to go out on a good note, I want to keep seeing the folks that have come, and how they are changed by this event. I want to keep providing the chance for that, if I can.

It's a hard decision to make and whatever way it goes won't be easy for me. But for now, there is at least one more Trans Iowa to go........

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #45

In mid-November, the idea of Trans Iowa was hatched. The year was 2004. In the ten years since then there have been many stories and memories. These posts will tell of the most prominent ones to my mind. Maybe I'll even spill the beans on some things you never knew....

 With the end of Trans Iowa V8, I could have walked away and been satisfied knowing that I had done the best job of putting on a Trans Iowa I could have done. Afterward, there wasn't any glaring issues to my mind concerning that. Of course, this precludes any feelings and thoughts I may have had, (and still do), about the friends, riders, and the event itself, which were and still are compelling and strong. I still had lots of support after the event for doing another. Grinnell wanted me back again, Wally and George were up for it again, and Jeremy Fry, a Trans Iowa finisher and volunteer, was up for being a major helper in regards to doing recon and cue sheet checking.

I also had tweaked out the event to the point that a system was in place that was easily repeatable and reliable. Logistical details, formatting, rules, and execution of all of those were things already figured out over the years. No more efforts in thought needed to be put forth, no more extra efforts in materials or physical effort were wasted. So, with that all in mind, doing a version 9 was a lot easier to decide to do than, say a version 4 was, when there were a lot of things that needed to change.

To tip the cycling cap to the two time Trans Iowa winner: CP#1 location.
There were a few minor things to tweak out none the less. I decided to do away with the pesky, frustration of the Waiting List by increasing the field size to 120 folks from 100. Figuring on the "T.I.V3" effect, where we let in 128 and got 64 to show up, I was thinking that the overall final number of riders would still be about the same as ever- that being in the high 50's to high 60's in number.

I also knew that if we did get a higher number of riders that the performances of the volunteers over the past few Trans Iowas was sufficient to handle the flow of riders, especially through checkpoint #1. Volunteers were submitting their services for T.I.v9 as soon as I announced it on August 18th, 2012.

Secondly, the recon was streamlined a lot. Essentially, with the efficiency of having Jeremy involved and with the notations and maps to guide in the physical recon being done ahead of time, as I learned was valuable the previous year, we knocked out the recon in two drives. One in October and one in early December. This was instrumental in allowing for us to recheck actual cue cards ahead of time, and then to do the last physical recon in the Spring of 2013 with Wally and George. They used the actual cue sheets to drive by, which then they judged to be clear, or not, by the way I had them written.

The second recon was marked by fog, a portent of things to come.
The barn proposed as the finish line for V6 was now again going to be used as the finish line for V9. Plans were set in place and the ending of the route tweaked out to reflect this. I was really hoping that the weather would hold up so the riders would actually be able to get there!

A change with Grinnell came along as I discovered that Sheryl Parmely, the person I regard as instrumental in cementing my allegiance to Grinnell and having Trans Iowa based there, had left the Chamber and had been replaced by Rachael Kinnick, so there was a bit of uncertainty there with how things would go with the city.

Trans Iowa Radio was also going to be a bit different for V9. "Mountain Bike Radio" founder, Ben Welnak, offered up his services to make it possible for not only me to call in reports, but for any of the riders to call in and have Ben post the reports, ala Tour Divide, so folks could get access at home to what was going on from several points of view.

But beyond these minor things, I experienced no big road blocks or bumps in the road going into Trans Iowa V9. The obvious uncertainty of what the weather would do was the only real question mark coming into this one.

Next: The running of a record setting Trans Iowa....

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rear View 2013: Highlights- Part 2

Yep........another boring year end retrospective! Oh well......that's the time of year it is and what I have done most of the years I have been blogging, so there! This will be a bit different in that I am going to just talk about major things I was excited about throughout the year.

I'm not even going to put these into any sort of logical order either. Random......right off the "read only memory" that sits between my ears! Okay, so here we go....

The Renegade Gents Race: Well, here's another event I just can't wait to do every year now, the Renegade Gents Race. It is a "team time trial" event where a team of five riders has to start together, pass a checkpoint together, and finish together, all on a 65-ish mile gravel course.

My Renegade Gents as we raced with the wind. It was a bit tougher coming back!
 I was asked to join a team for the inaugural event three years ago by Steve Fuller, a friend I've made through gravel riding, but as for the other three guys, I had never met them. Of course, this was also going to be part of that first event's challenge for me, but as it turned out, we all got along famously, and I now have new friends in Des Moines I never had before I rode in the first Gents race. 

So, this event has always been special to me for that reason alone, but it is another of the cool, grassroots cycling events that brings like-minded folks together for good times. And let me tell ya- I've had some really good times at the Gents races!

This past Spring's event featured nice temperatures, but a strong Southerly wind that was going to be quite a challenge coming back in. We stuck together as a team though and persevered to claim another finish with all riders intact. We ain't fast, but we are gravel road riding brothers, have a good time, and stick it out to the end. Once again, I plan on returning for another round if my team will have me!

 Trans Iowa V9: 

Gee..........there is so much I could say about this event. But I will try to restrain myself! The deal was that- for myself- I managed to preside over another successful event by all accounts. It came off really, really well.

That's saying a lot when I consider that the last Trans Iowa was a record for starters, a record for finishers, and I had probably the largest volunteer corp I had ever had for a Trans Iowa. So, the event passed a lot of milestones, but let me tell you- there were a couple of near disasters! Short of cue sheets at Checkpoint #1, my volunteers made smart, on the spot decisions and got things squared away all on their own. I am so indebted to those folks! The wheels could have come off the event right there had they not been on the ball. Then there was the whiskey fiasco that I had to deal with just outside of Brooklyn Iowa. Man! Had a cop stopped to see what I was doing, it could have gone all wrong right then and there. But nothing happened, and I saved all the releases from being 100% ruined. (More on those stories and more when I get to T.I.v9 in my Trans Iowa Tales series next year.)

Morning fog conditions at T.I.v9 provided for some spectacular scenes.

A middle of the road meeting to decompress before more Trans Iowa duties
The finish line was at a restored barn which went very well. (Image by W. Kilburg)

 The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational:

My annual ride was all arranged by the awesome "Slender Fungus" guys this year. I love this ride and the good times it has produced and the really tough rides that I have been on  over the years. This year proved to be one of those rides I wasn't going to finish. Looking back it started at Odin's when I pushed myself to my limits then came back and didn't give myself anytime to recover. That's when my wife thinks I contracted some sort of viral deal which was kicking my rear end during and after the GTDRI.

There were more riders on this GTDRI than on any previous one, and the terrain of Jackson County was spectacular. I have to also back up a hair here and say that the night before in Sabula was one of the nicest Summer evenings I have had in quite some time. Bombfire Pizza and walking around that river town with new friends was a great time.

The ride went well, (for what I made of it), and my savior that day was Chris Paulsen, who had to bail out and head back toward the beginning of the route. I decided to cut things short, as I was suffering like a dog and really had no power for the hills that were only going to get worse. Chris rode me back into a town near by, and not only that, he ferried me back to the start after making sure I had been fed and cooled down at his rustic, beautiful farmstead.

The rest of the intrepid riders ended up bagging the entire ride, but not until after dark, which would have put me into arrears getting to work the next day. So, for two reasons, It was good for me to head home when I did. I hated it though, missing doing the entire ride, and the GTDRI stands as one of my bittersweet cycling moments in 2013.

Surly's ECR: I really liked this bike!
Interbike 2013: 

The 2013 version of Interbike was a highly anticipated event for many since it was moving down "The Strip" to the Mandalay, where the hopes were that somehow things would magically be better than they were in the Sands Convention Center.

Ummm........hello! This is still Las Vegas, ya know? On The Strip? that'll change things by moving the venue a few miles!

So, anyway, the event! Well, it was pretty much a wash as to the good vs bad of it. I liked that we had less of The Strip to deal with, and it was easy to get into and out of the Mandalay, but the interior layout of the event stunk. They can work on that part though. In the end, I think it was a good move.

The highlight, as always with this deal, is the people and riding bikes. I rode a few nice rigs, but none more curious than the Surly ECR. The 29+ wheels and puffy tires seem good, but in an odd way. Why not get a lightweight fat bike and "ECR" yourself to wherever ya wanna go? Then again, this could be the best loose, deep gravel travel set up ever, (with maybe the possible switch to drop bars.) Maybe an ECR-ized Fargo?   Anyway, I digress........Interbike. A big part of the year, another yawner of a show, and a lot of cool folks that I only get to see once in awhile. Now Cross Vegas on the other hand, that was rad! The best part of the trip by far! (Thanks Brian Fornes!)

Trans Iowa v10 recon
Other Stuff:

Well, there were a bunch of Ingawanis Woods rides, a bunch of Trans Iowa v10 registration fun, recon, and a Trans Iowa clinic! Snow came along and I got new tires for By-Tor and signed up for Triple D again. Cue sheets to set up, Grinnell venues and hotels to get arranged for next year's Trans Iowa, and more of that sort of stuff. I got a new bicycle or two along the way, and had fun fixing up and wrenching on the fleet here. It's been a busy, busy year.

Next up.......looking forward....

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

My teammates from the Renegade Gents Race
With the big Gravel Worlds event happening today in Lincoln, Nebraska, I sit here wistfully thinking about what might have been had I been able to get down that way to join in the festivities. No doubt, it would have been fun, and the ride would have been a hot, windy affair. Not generally my cup of tea, as far as weather, but I bet I would have had fun, despite the suffering.

Well, anyway, I figured why not run down my "season", as it were, since now I will only be partaking in a couple of night time gravel grinders, if anything, before this year closes out. Interbike generally throws a big wrench into my Fall riding plans, and I suspect this year will be no different.

So, I had a couple of successful outings, and I had a couple of really tough rides that didn't end the way I wanted them to. Let's take a look.....

Triple D: The year started out with Triple D, a fat bike event. I did well, beating my time from the year previous, despite crashing and getting lost a bit. That was fun, and I felt good. 65 miles in the middle of January on icy trails is nothing to sneeze at. So, I take a bit of pride in that accomplishment.

The Renegade Gents Race: Same team again for year 3 of my participation in this event. It was a tough wind to ride into on that weekend, but we finished well, and I felt good taking pulls with Captain Steve, who was looking uber-fit in his preparation for T.I.V9, (which he handily finished). Not that we were out there to be really competitive, but we did show character in riding in together when we had a teammate in trouble, which I felt was really cool, and showed we were not only "gentleman", but good sportsman. A win in my book.

Trans Iowa V9:, I do not ride a bicycle in this event. That said, it is "an event" for me to get right, or not, and I am up and working it for an ungodly amount of hours over hundreds of miles of roads so other cyclists can have a good experience. First let me say that without the awesome volunteers, it would have been a disaster, so on a "team" filled with great folks, I felt the event was a success and I was really stoked to have been a small part of that success.

Chasing Craig at Odin's Revenge

 Odin's Revenge: 

My favorite event of the year, (so far), and a bittersweet weekend. My buddy MG made it awesome, and my hosts, Chad and Merrie were so accommodating. The ride was stunningly awesome, and the event? I can not say enough good things about that. My performance? I guess this is where I was either beginning to fall ill, or it was the reason I fell ill, but I left it all out there and this event kicked my butt bad. I didn't finish it, and that's the only bad thing I had happen there, but it still bugs the heck outta me. So, next year, I want to return. We'll see how things shake out.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: Here is my biggest disappointment in my riding all year. I didn't have anything in the tank that day, as I had been dealing with the fallout of Odin's Revenge for weeks, and looking back on this, I was definitely ill with a virus of some sort. How I even managed to get as far as I did, I do not know. However; it really burns me that I couldn't continue on my own ride. Oh well..........

The good news is that I have been getting better all the time since then, a month and a half ago now, and things are clicking again like they haven't since before Trans Iowa last April. So, I am looking forward to riding well at Interbike for the two days I will be able to do that out there, and then when I get back, I am maybe going to do a couple of night time gravel events, or.......well I can not say right now. There is a plan being hatched, but it isn't ripe for consumption just yet. If it looks good, I am going to be saying something soon about it, and if not, you'll never know a thing! Ha! Cryptic, eh?

Stay tuned. The future is looking better..........

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday News And Views: Gravel Goodness!

This weekend an event is happening that is close to my heart: Gravel Worlds in Lincoln, Nebraska. I will be regretting not being there all weekend long, but I made my decision to take care of some things back here at the home front, and I have to stick to my guns on that front.

Why is this such a great event in my eyes? I'll just say that it has great people behind it, a really great, accepting, down to earth vibe, and it is challenging and fun. You like competition? It's there. If you like an adventure, you'll find that as well. Do you like tough courses? There aren't many more challenging.

While some think we're just a bunch of yahoos out here wasting our time not being "real racers" or doing things "the right way", that's fine. If Gravel Worlds is "wrong" I don't wanna be right. They can have the other stuff.

For a brief look at what the folks will be riding out there, check out this little ditty....

 Last Spring I was honored to have my friend and very talented photographer, Jason Boucher come and take some images of T.I.V9. Jason spent the better part of two days soaking it all in and taking some incredible imagery out in the rural areas while T.I.V9 cyclists struggled to overcome the challenges presented that weekend.

Now Jason has decided to share his vision and work from that event. You can go here to view a slide show of 69 images he has posted. If you decide you are smitten by one or two or three, they are available to purchase from that site.

Check it out, it is a good little window on what Trans Iowa is about and even if you don't ever see yourself doing gravel, if you like cycling even a little bit, I bet you'll see something there that you think is interesting. (Thanks again, Jason!)

I'll be out there......somewhere!
I've got a job to get done soon and it involves a certain little lighting product and a whole lot of time out at night.

I've already done a few night rides with this light from wooded riding on trails to bike path and streets to gravel roads. It's an interesting and fun thing to do, but I like riding at night, so maybe I am an oddball.

My wife, well she's not so keen on me doing this alone. I used to have a night riding buddy, but lately I've been going solo and Mrs. Guitar Ted, she's not wanting me to get "run over", as she puts it. Well, fortunately I would darn near have to be blind and deaf to get run over at night on a gravel road, so not much to worry about there.

Now as for dogs, wild animals, and drunks- that's another matter altogether! However; I am willing to risk it and I have a plan for this weekend to get out there and do this deed. It should prove to be a good story, at the least. Hopefully everything comes together for this attempt. Stay tuned......

And Finally.....

Even though Gravel Worlds is happening this weekend, I will be doing the 3GR again, same time and same place as always this Summer, which is Gates Park Swimming Pool parking lot at 8:30am. See ya there if you can make it. If not.....I'll go rogue and do a solo route!

Keep the rubber side down, good luck to all the Gravel Worlds riders, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Monsoon Season?

Ready For The Slop
2013 has been the polar opposite of 2012 so far. Where we were wondering "when will it rain?" last year, this year we are left to wonder "when will it ever dry out?". I do not see an end to this wet cycle yet in the forecasts, and it is pretty exasperating.

The "endless Winter" turned into "monsoon season" with the single exception of the weekend of Trans Iowa V9, which was somehow exempted from wet, cold, nasty weather. In my opinion, that weekend remains the best weather weekend we've had yet all year long. In fact, it was warmer that weekend than it was yesterday here, and that was late April.

So, I've resigned myself to off roading in muck, mire, and wetness when I do go. It will soon be joined by wet weeds and mosquitoes by the millions, I'm sure. We certainly have enough standing water to propagate the nasties in record numbers this year. Just hope that you do not flat in the woods, or you will be relegated to running out with your bike in hand, cyclocross style, to escape the blood sucking critters. It's a good reason to have a tubeless set up.

Speaking of flats, I had one the other day. The tube in the tire just failed. No puncture. Bah! Is it just me, or are tubes getting thinner and smaller? Well, anyway.....

Hope you get in some dry rides, wherever you are!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday News And Views

Candy Smokes & Processed Beef Products!
It's the big weekend holiday and everyone will be scrambling to recreate. Lots of barbeque, beer, and whatever else trips yer trigger. But just for a moment, let's not forget why we're getting to do all these crazy things in the U.S. of A. these days.

Our folks that served in uniform, giving the ultimate sacrifice in many cases, deserve our thanks and recognition. Say thanks to a Veteran, or at least make a special note of thanks in a way that seems significant to you at some point this weekend. It's the least we can do.....

More Stories Added: Just an update to a past Friday News And Views where I listed all the T.I.V9 stories and accounts I had at the time. There are more added now, in case you want to check it out. If anyone knows of accounts that are not listed there and want to suggest adding them, just comment here or hit me with an e-mail.

A Mule Kickin' In The Stall: As most of you cycling geeks are aware of, this is the midst of the Pro Cycling season and local criteriums are on at full tilt. It is with this in mind that I would like to point out the most recent "Bicycle Times", (edition #23), which just hit my mailbox today. (I know......a paper magazine! They still exist!) Anyway, the publisher, one Maurice Teirney, of "Dirt Rag" fame, writes a letter flaming Pro Cycling and its deleterious effects on riders of the more common cloth and on the cycling industry at large. The letter starts out with "To hell with pro cycling!" and rants on from there. Definitely worth reading, if you get a chance.

I would agree with much of Mr. Teirney's points, but I also see a couple things worth noting. One: Big Maurice is a mountain bike dude from way back. (In fact, he's in the MTB Hall of Fame, if you didn't know.) There has always been a bit of "anti-roadie" in the culture of mountain biking, and I'm certain Mr. Teirney is steeped in that culture. Secondly- pro racing has paid his rent, at least in part,  for many years, so I find it interesting, and a bit ironic, that he would so vehemently go after Pro Road Cycling.

That said- I get why he's peeved too. Well......go read it if you can. That's "Bicycle Times" issue #23, page 9.


This week the ride is being moved again!  Due to high water this time, the 3GR will once again start from Gates Park swimming pool parking lot at 8:30am tomorrow. It sounds like there is a 50/50 chance there may be a thunder storm late in the morning, so I will be keeping an eye on the sky, but as of now, the ride is on.

I am not sure anyone will show up, because it is a Holiday weekend, but I will be there and likely on the BMC. I wanted to ride the Vaya, but I discovered that an odd sensation at the pedals turned out to be a slightly loose crank arm. I haven't taken it off to inspect it yet, but I fear the splines are wallowed out and that is not good.

So, I'll look into that later into the weekend, but for now it'll be the ol', reliable Black Mountain Cycles rig. Which needs a new bottom bracket, by the way. I should do something about that before it becomes "critical"! For some reason I want to put a Chris King in it and replace the head set with a King unit as well. Both silver, of course. That bike is worth that upgrade!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday News And Views

Welcome back to normal Fridays at G-Ted Productions! It's another edition of "Friday News And Views"!

I will be humbled and honored to wear this!
Trans Iowa Tidbits:

First up, a few tidbits left over from Trans Iowa that I wanted to pass on here. The image to the left shows a special gift given to me at the finish line of T.I.V9 by Bill Pontious and Pete Jaros. These two fellas are "officers of de Law" and participate in a special bicycle ride that starts from Ground Zero in New York City every anniversary of 9/11. Here's the lowdown from the website:

The Tour de Force's dual mission is to honor the victims of 9/11 by keeping their memory alive through cycling events and to raise funds, to benefit the families of police officers, who were killed in the line of duty, each year, nationwide, making the ultimate sacrifice. The Tour de Force is a registered 501©3 charity with the IRS.
So this is a pretty special jersey and I will definitely wear it with pride and humility. Thanks Bill and Pete! 

Next up, I wanted to share a few links from some of the T.I.V9 race reports I have read. This is not a comprehensive list, but these are the ones I have come across. They are all good reading, so save 'em for later and check out all the different experiences from Trans Iowa V9:
I'm sure there are more, but those are the ones I've seen so far. Feel free to pass on anymore that you've written or read.

3GR Update:

The 3GR will happen Saturday. What is "3GR"? you might ask? Well, it stands for Gravel Grinder Group Ride 3GR, get it?

Anyway....  I see the usual escape route from Cedar Falls is under water in many spots, so I am moving the start to "higher ground". That would be over at Waterloo's Gates Park swimming pool parking lot and the time will still be 8:30am. The parking lot is just off East Donald Street about two blocks East from the intersection of Donald Street and HWY 63 North. Anyway, it looks like it will be chilly, but sunny tomorrow, so if you want to ride about 30-ish miles of gravel, show up there at that time. Otherwise I'll ride solo. I'm good with that.

The loop will be modified, of course, but if anyone shows up we can decide what to do from that point onward. Once the rivers calm down I'll move the start back to the regular spot, if everyone that normally comes is amenable to that, or......I'd like to do some different loops this year. Maybe I can come up with a few good ones.

Okay, that's all I have this time. Get out and ride this weekend! Happy Mother's Day! Keep the rubber side down, ya'all!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Trans Iowa V9: Final Thoughts

I titled my first post after T.I.V9 "Another One In The Books", but it never really is until after I've processed the experiences and emotions through writing a weeks worth of entries on the event just completed. I guess it is my way of dealing with everything that happened and sort of cleansing myself of the T.I. just completed.

Personally this Trans Iowa was an emotional roller coaster for me. I can not really say why that is either. I mean- nothing really terrible happened with regard to putting it on. Quite the contrary- it was about as good as it can get. Near perfect weather, everyone that commented on the cues said they were perfect, and the volunteers were all great and very much appreciated. The event had a very successful amount of finishers, first time accomplishments, and the drama, joy, and sorrow one would expect with an event so long and arduous.

So- why all the feelings? I still can not say, but all week I have been not only recovering physically from a full weekend of putting the thing on, 37 hours straight of being awake, and nearly 600 miles, (mostly gravel), in the truck, but dealing with being an emotional wreck at times. I guess I have not ever noted feeling quite so out of sorts post-Trans Iowa before.

Well, I suppose this too shall pass, but I just found it rather odd. I suppose getting slammed the minute I walked into work Monday and then with no let up all week long isn't helping much, but it is what it is.

The event itself was jammed with emotions on several fronts, what with 91 folks out riding, that's going to happen. It was good to see so many friends, acquaintances, and new folks at Trans Iowa. Although the "grizzled veterans" were fewer than in years past, the new folks jumped right in and animated the event in many ways. New friendships were formed, undoubtedly, and old ones were strengthened for sure.

I suppose this one will be remembered by most in years to come for the weather and amount of finishers. Both go hand in hand, really. It has become apparent after doing this for 9 straight years that good weather brings out more finishers and more starters. Had the weather been what it is at the time of writing this, (Upper 30's, windy, raining), there would have been far less than 91 starters and far less than 36 finishers, if there were any finishers at all. The weather is, and always has been, the biggest potential obstacle in any Trans Iowa year. This year it was minimized to almost no influence, excepting maybe that it was too sunny and nice, which maybe played into dehydration issues for some folks. I'm going to say it was the nicest weather we've ever had at a Trans Iowa.

 Then there were the roads. Fresh gravel was the rule of the day, especially after Checkpoint #2. Tama County, (where most of the course ran after the checkpoint), has notoriously been offensive when it comes to fresh gravel over the years, but this year was definitely exceptional in that regard. To those unfamiliar with Iowa that rode T.I.V9- that was not at all normal! 

The roads going out of Checkpoint #1 to #2- those were more typical Iowa gravel roads. If you can remember that at all! But overall, the fact that it was dry, the B Roads were actually fun, and that the cue sheets made sense all contributed to an easier Trans Iowa than some I've been involved with in years past.

  I've read a lot of reports and comments on Facebook and Twitter about the event that have made me think. There are some that have felt T.I.V9 was a fun event, a challenging event.  Some said it was a big deal to them to have been in it for several reasons. There are those for whom it was just another bicycle ride. All are valid takes on Trans Iowa. Again- with 91 different folks you'll have 91 different reactions. What do you make of all that then? I think you have to let it be what it is to those who have ridden it. If some folks say it "changed their life", then it probably did. I know of a few examples I could offer you.

So, that's it. Trans Iowa V9 is in the rear view mirror and it is time to move on. Time to pack all the T.I. crap away and not look at it for a bit. Time to post my data to the Trans Iowa History site and get that behind me. Time to go ride a bicycle again!

But first.........I would be remiss not to acknowledge several people and entities that helped put T.I.V9 on. Without anyone of these, it wouldn't have been the event it was......

Volunteers: Checkpoint #1: Darryl Pals, Chad and Merrie Quigley, Mike Baggio, Ryan Clutter, Corey Matthias, "Gumby", and  Brent Irish. (I may have forgotten a couple here, my apologies!)

Checkpoint#2: Jeremy Fry, Robert Fry

The Barn: Rob Versteegh, Kyle Sedore, Jared Morford.

Photography: Wally Kilburg, Jason Boucher, George Keslin. (Link to Wally's photos is here)

Special Mention goes out to the Slender Fungus Cycling Association for helping ferry a couple of riders back to Grinnell from Checkpoint #1.

Sponsors: Oakley/ Rob Versteegh, HED Wheels/Andy Tetmeyer, Retroshift, Gu Energy, Wheel Werx/ Jay Barre, North Central Cyclery/ Chad Ament. Europa Cycle and Ski.

Support: The Grinnell Steakhouse, The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce/ Rachael Kinnick, The City of Grinnell, Bikes To You/ Craig Cooper, Europa Cycle and Ski/ Russ Clarke, Grinnell Police Department, Jeremy Fry, Wally Kilburg, George Keslin, Rob Versteegh, My Family: Phyllis, Izabel, and Jacob.

Thank You: To all the riders, the support people, and anyone that came to enjoy Trans Iowa. Without all of you, there would be no event at all.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Trans Iowa V9: Of Joy And Sorrow Part II

Monica Sattler (L) and Paul LaCava (R) @ the finish
Sunday, April 28th, 2013: Excitement builds as finishers are expected all morning at the Barn.

With well over 40 people still out on course after Rich Wince, Mark Johnson, Paul LaCava, and Monika Sattler finished, it was thought by most that Trans Iowa V9 would be a record setter for finishers. I kept getting asked, "How many now?" after every rider, or group of riders would come in. It didn't take long to see that the old record from T.I.V3 was going to get smashed. That was 24 riders, by the way.

Matt Maxwell was next after about an hour past when LaCava and Sattler arrived. In between them I can't tell you how bone chillingly cold it got. 37°F and I ended up in the Barn for a bit there where I made the watch presentation to Rich Wince and had a couple of brats off the grill. Properly fueled, I went back to the finish line.

Right after Matt came in on his single speed there was a rapid fire arrival of riders. We had heard there was a rather large grouping of seven to eight riders all together and that they were not far behind Matt Maxwell. First was David Swanson, then our first two-time female finisher, Janna Vavre came in with Scott Bigelow and Paul Chapman. About 20 minutes later Charles Parsons came in solo, then our first U.K. finisher ever, Paul Errington who rolled in with single speeder Jay Barre. Paul's U.K. comrade, Vin Cox, didn't make it to the finish, but he did get to see the Iowa countryside again after being here once before on his round-the-world bicycle ride.

A Super-Pumped Steve Fuller finishes T.I.V9
Then a very electrified, emotional Steve Fuller came in with Tim Ek. Most folks at the finish line already knew a little about Steve's race, as he had been bitten by a dog on Saturday afternoon in the calf. Although bloodied and shaken up by the event, Steve overcame the setback and finished strongly in a high octane sprint to (past) the finish line.

It went on like this all morning. Then noon came and it was getting right hot by this point. The wind was up, but it didn't really matter anymore at this point. Riders were still trickling in past noon and right on up to a half an hour to the cut off. That's when three single speeders, John Walsh, Matt Jennings, and Matt Wills all came in abreast to shouts and claps from the bystanders.

Speaking of single speeders- Cristina Mihaescu finished on a Tomac 29"er set up as a single speed for our very first female single speed finish in a Trans Iowa. Cristina told me she had a good single speed adviser back home in two time single speed Trans Iowa finisher, Joe Partridge. Yep......I would say he knows a thing or three about getting it done at Trans Iowa on a single speed!

There were a few DNF's throughout the morning, which reminded us all that even though you might get close, it takes every mile to finish. Some got real, real close. Folks like Jim Cummins, Michael Lemberger, and a fellow that got within two miles before the 2pm cutoff time. Heartbreakingly close, but hey- those all are outstanding efforts on a really tough course.  No shame at all in those valiant efforts, but I understand the sorrow of falling short, since I have done so at Dirty Kanza three times!

In the end, there were 36 finishers of Trans Iowa V9. The most of any T.I. We got a two time female finisher in Janna Vavre, a first time single speed finisher on the women's side in Cristina Mihaescu, and we had four female finishers out of the nine starters. There were tons of great efforts out there, from first timers, to veterans that went further than ever before, and even the past finishers had their fair share of near misses and great finishes.

Next: My final thoughts on Trans Iowa V9

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Trans Iowa V9: Of Joy And Sorrow

11:30pm, Saturday April 27th, 2013: I drive by a bar in Brooklyn and notice Rich Wince's bike parked outside the front door. 

"Oh oh!" , I thought as I rolled out of Brooklyn, Iowa, and was hoping Rich Wince didn't get sucked in by the Siren call of a nice, warm place to stay while visiting that bar. Oh well, I couldn't help it, and where was Chris Schotz in all of this? Well, it didn't take long to find out. The cell phone sprang to life only a few miles outside of town. It was Chris. He had done "laps around town", but could not find that open convenience store I talked about. I said, "There isn't an open store there, it is about 10 more miles up the road, like I told you." Chris then said he might quit anyway. He was tired and cold. I said that once he had decided what to do, he should call me. He agreed and I left off with him and continued onward toward the convenience store mentioned.
Rich Wince at the finish line

I stopped and did something there, but honestly, I have no memory what it was right now! (Probably got a bite to eat of something.) Anyway, the following miles were my toughest of the event. I was pretty whooped by this point. I did get phone calls. Oddly enough, folks were dropping at weird places along the course. I was getting texts and calls from places I never would have dreamed folks would stop at. Then there was the cue sheet question, which was totally a bizarre moment for me.

I can not recall which rider it was, but they had just finished a cue sheet, were at the crossing of Highway 63 in southern Tama/Northern Poweshiek County, and were sure they had been shorted a cue sheet. In fact, he claimed, another rider with him didn't have the cue sheet either. (It might be good to recall that at the Pre-Race Meat-Up I let the riders know that they had three cue sheets to Checkpoint #1, six cue sheets to Checkpoint #2, and seven cue sheets to the finish line. If these riders had stopped to remember and count, they, perhaps, would have been assured they were on track.) Well, I scrambled to find my master sheet, and do you think I could find it right then? Oh no! It took me five minutes, but when I did, I was able to show them that they just had a ten mile stretch with no turns, and it happened to fall right at the end of a sheet to the beginning of another, was all. Then Josh Lederman, who sounded totally amped, jumped on the line to ask if I would post to T.I. Radio that he was still moving on. I said I would, hung up the line, and shook my head! I was tired and just a bit freaked out by that!  

Sunday morning dawning at the finish line to T.I.V9
Not long after I got another call. It was Chris Schotz saying he was packing it in. What a valiant ride, but it all ended in Brooklyn. Okay, so if there were to be a sub-24 T.I., it was all up to Rich Wince, and he'd have to fly.

Then I headed to the Barn, via a circuitous route since I was so out of it I got lost for a bit! But I pulled it together long enough to find my way back on course and when I got to the Barn, it was well after 3am in the morning. I pulled up past the finish line, parked, and tried to catch a few winks. Things were going well until Heather, who was Rich Wince's support person, came in her Subaru and set back my sleep time a bit more. Then I got a text, and well.....if I slept it was 30 winks and no more! 

Eventually I got  out of the truck and soon Heather crawled out of the Suby. A couple other hearty souls were about, including Wally, George, and the finish line crew consisting of Rob V, Kyle S, Jared M, and others. Soon we saw a wobbling light. It was Rich! Just past 5:00am, so no sub-24, but a darn fast Trans Iowa ride and for a Rookie, it was really amazing! There was a bit of chatter, congratulations, but it was freezing, so Rich and Heather headed up to the barn where there was a fire started to keep folks warm.

Warming up: Image by Wally Kilburg
It would be a while until we saw any other finishers. I knew Chris and Rich were way out front. Unfortunately all the other front runners of the day had succumbed to one malady or another. Cornbread had a knee issue, Eric Brunt went too hard, got dehydrated, sick, and then there was the dog bite. Dennis Grelk had to drop out at Brooklyn with a mechanical, his hub came apart on him. So there was plenty of sorrow already, but the joy of finishers coming in was just getting started.

It wasn't until 6:32am that another rider showed up. It was Mark Johnson on a single speed! Just like last year, a single speed scored second place at Trans Iowa. Mark wasn't even on the radar during the event up front, so we were all surprised to see him come home second place overall and first in the Single Speed/Fixed category. A little less than ten minutes later Paul LaCava finally showed up with our second ever Women Open class finisher, Monika Sattler, in tow. Monika took the Women Open class and we had all our first place finishers in the first four riders to arrive!

Things were just getting started at the finish line, and there would be more joy and more sorrow to come.

Next: Of Joy And Sorrow Part II

Friday, May 03, 2013

Trans Iowa V9: Good Friends- Good Times!

Approximately 2:30pm, Saturday April 27th, 2013: I drive my truck down the B Road to Checkpoint #2, the only B Road I would drive on the entire course....

Meet me down at the crossroads.....
 Checkpoint #2 was in the boonies once again. I chose a point on a road that I had ridden on the first Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational back in 2006. A "B Road", that at the time was barely a lane between two 8 foot high fields of corn. It looks a little different on the day of T.I.V9. Two wide open fields on either side of a rutted out track barely wide enough for a car.

At the end of the road, it dumps out on to a corner where a county blacktop  ends and a cemetery sits. Perfect! I drive up to find Wally, George, and Jason lounging on the luxuriant soft grass under the shadow of the white wooden fence around the cemetery. I wasn't there long before Jeremy and Robert pull in, my two new Checkpoint 2 volunteers. Jeremy produces a small cooler of beer and I grabbed mine. Soon we were all drinking and chatting away in the sun on a fine Spring day in the middle of no where in Iowa.

These people are all my friends, but I do not get to see most of them very often. To have all of us standing around with no other reason to be there but to chat and have fun with cycling and photography was perfect. Another one of those sublime, tiny slices of time you do not want to ever have end. But they have to, and you know that in the back of your mind. It was very good while it lasted......

L-R: R. Frye, J Fry, Cornbread, J Boucher
Wally wandered up the road to find a good spot to photgraph from. George followed him. Jason was flitting about, and Jeremy and Robert set up the checkpoint. Soon we saw a rider. Chris Schotz pulled in looking really weary. I walked over to him and said, "I am guessing you skipped the last convenience store." To which he responded to by dropping his head and while looking at the ground, he half said to himself, "Well....I did have three water bottles."

There ya go! As Jeremy later noted, it wasn't like I didn't try to stress that there would be nothing at our checkpoints. I walked away thinking he wasn't long for this event. He looked really out of sorts. Then I watched him weave away slowly and suddenly here is Cornbread! Okay then, I had better hit the road. I don't think I said anything to the guys, I just got in the truck and beat it up the road. I saw Chris shoot out from a driveway, apparently he was looking for a place to beg some water.

There were other surprises already in terms of DNF's (Did Not Finish). I received a call while rolling away from Checkpoint #2 that Eric Brunt was done, a victim of dehydration and he was also a victim of a dog bite while trying to ask for water at a farmhouse. Matt Gersib and Charles Showalter were both strong riders that were also already out of Trans Iowa by the time I left Checkpoint #2. (Note: Charles Showalter fixed his bike with outside assistance and was still riding the route for pride.)

Tama County really laid on a lot of fresh gravel.
I stopped in Gladbrook. This would be the last convenience store for 100 miles. I knew it would get real busy here in just a little while after my departure. Gladbrook was also where the hills kicked back in, pretty much for the rest of the course. It promised to be a brutal evening!

I don't really have anything remarkable to say about the next 98 miles or so. I was going up and down hills constantly, I was stopping often now to take a phone call, or a text from a rider that was dropping out. I made a few Trans Iowa Radio calls based upon what information I had from Jeremy at the checkpoint.The gravel was horrendous! Every inch of every mile was laden with fresh gravel. Only T.I.V5, the year of the government bail-outs, was anywhere near this level of fresh gravel madness. I can only attribute the situation to a "perfect storm" of sorts. One part late Winter weather, which pushed back any possible maintenance till just before Trans Iowa, and the other part the farmers, who were also pushed up against a time crunch to get the fields readied for crops. The counties had to get the roads fixed before all the heavy equipment went out, and this all was concentrated in the few days running up to T.I.V9.

Makeshift paper dryer

I finally pulled up to the right hander on pavement leading into Brooklyn, Iowa. I decided to stop and parked my truck at the head of the B Road there. I conspired to stop and wait for the leaders, but I knew I would be there a long time. The Sun was westering and soon it would be dark, but I might be there 4 hours or more waiting. No matter, I had resolved to do it.

In the meantime, I figured I could take care of some clerical and T.I. related chores. One of those was ascertaining where all the prizing was in my covered tubs so I could remember it when I got to the finish line. I popped open the first tub, and saw the bottle of Templeton Rye Matt Gersib had given me as a gift. It looked strange. Wait.....the cork was gone! The bottle was lying sideways, just the way I placed it in there against a big bag of Cajun food brought to me by some fellows in the event from Louisiana. The big bag of foodstuff was poofy, and I figured it would cushion the whiskey well, but apparently the cork was pushed out, possibly due to heat build up? I don't know. Anyway, I also suddenly realized that there was probably a lot of Rye whiskey in the bottom of the tub.

Actually, it turned out most of the whiskey had either evaporated, or had been soaked up by various things in the tub. To my horror, one of these was the waivers! I could still make out the names, but the pages were half soaked in whiskey and not very stable. I carefully peeled them apart and laid them in the waning light of the day. I was sure they wouldn't dry, with little wind, and the air getting cooler by the minute. What could I do?

I thought about my defroster! Yes! So I got all the papers dried on the dash with the heater on high. It took about 45 minutes, and my cab smelled like whiskey bad! Good thing the sheriff didn't come by! The Oakley watches got marinated in the stuff, but were okay otherwise. I also lost all of the boxes of breading that came with the food, but otherwise I just cleaned up whiskey residue and put everything back. At least it took up about two hours of my time!

A rider spotted in the inky night!

Then it was a game of waiting and figuring out if anyone could beat the 24 hour line for a complete Trans Iowa. What I knew was that Chris Schotz, Cornbread, Rich Wince, and Paul LaCava all got to Checkpoint #2 before 4pm. I figured these were the only guys that had a shot at it. I knew Chris was hurting, so I counted him out. I had been told by text message that Cornbread dropped out due to a knee issue at Gladbrook, so he was done. That left Wince and LaCava. Every minute that passed pushed the clock closer to 11pm, and I was figuring that post 11:00 o'clock, the chances for a sub-24 T.I. would become astronomically harder to come by until by 11:30pm, I figured there would be no chance at all.

Eleven went by, and still no sign of riders. It was getting really chilly under a big fat moon now. 11:11, and I saw a faint, bobbing orb, then two! Two riders separated by some 100 yards or so. I saw the first wobble slowly around the corner as I gave some faint encouragement. I asked the name, because I couldn't see the number! It was Rich Wince! Then came a very tired Chris Schotz. I was impressed very much that he had gutted it out this far after seeing how poorly he looked 98 miles back. But then again, I can't stress how hard these men were. The bad roads, the hills, and the miles were taking a toll. It took Chris Schotz almost exactly 8 hours to traverse the distance from Checkpoint #2 to where I stood. All with only one convenience store 10 miles from CP2.

Now there was about 60 miles to go. Who would make it? Would either man break the sub-24 hour barrier?

Next: Of Joy And Sorrow

NOTE: If it is not raining tomorrow, there will be a 3GR at the regular time, regular place. (8:30am, Gateway Park, Cedar Falls,IA)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Trans Iowa V9: Troubles Under The Sun

Approximately 7:30am, April 27th, 2013: I am standing at an intersection of a bike path and a gravel road, looking for signs of two separate groups of cyclists.....

Some of the nicest roads on T.I.V9
 After standing around a bit waiting for the Brunt group to appear, I felt that perhaps they had realized their mistake and turned around. That must have been a bitter pill to swallow after having put in such a huge effort early on in the hills of Jasper County. Now all they had to show for it was a footnote that they had been leaders and now were chasers.

And the new leaders, where were they? I waited and then saw two cyclists nose to tail with a third one dangling off the back. Around the corner and down 100th they came. It was Dennis Grelk with Rich Wince in tow. The straggler was Chris Schotz. I jumped back into the truck and passed Wince and Grelk while thinking I had to make it to an unsigned corner up the road at the end of the course's first B Road. The adrenaline rush of the previous moments was still with me and the dreamy, foggy morning was but a distant memory. Now it was bright, clear, and almost sharp as a fresh cut chunk of metal. I was probably driving a bit too fast, but I reached the B Road's end with plenty of time to mark it.

I staked out the corner and then snapped an image of the road, because it was completely dry and rideable. When does that ever happen at Trans Iowa? It may never happen again, so I had to have the evidence!

A dry B Road at Trans Iowa? That happened...
Then it was off to mark another feature of Trans Iowa V9, a bike path that led riders underneath a four lane highway. This was at Melbourne, and the path uses a huge cement culvert as a means to cross riders under the highway. It was a key element to getting the riders West of Highway 330, and without this feature, T.I.V9 would have been much, much different.

The marking of corners in the angled light of morning was relaxing me again and I was doing nicely until I thought I lost my phone. I was frantically searching for it and then found it. This raised my anxiety levels and then that got taken a notch higher when I heard from Checkpoint #1 that they were certain they were going to be short cue sheet sets to hand out. After I hung up I had a bit of a mini-fit in the cab of the truck, then I calmed down, and then I tried to figure out a plan to get the situation rectified. It was great that Trans Iowa was exceeding expectations, but it was an issue right then I didn't want. I figured I could hit a copying machine in State Center and hot foot it back to Ira to cover my butt. Just when I was settled on this, the cell phone sprang to life. It was super-volunteer Brent Irish again. He found an auto repair place in Ira that had a copy machine. We were all good!

Cornbread leading Trans Iowa V9
I stopped at State Center to refuel the truck and grab a bite to eat. The place would soon be crawling with cyclists from this crazy gravel grinder. State Center was the first place I routed the event right in front of a convenience store. It fell about 70 miles out from Grinnell, so maybe a bit early for the fast guys. I could see some of them skipping this one.

I bugged out of town and went up the road a ways until I found a nice parking lot at Marietta Sand Prairie. I had decided that stops often and in decent lengths would be okay and beneficial to my planned 30 plus hours of being awake. I got out and stretched a bit. I walked around, and then I got my camera ready for Dennis and Rich to pass by. Only it wasn't Dennis and Rich.  There were two new riders out front now.

It was Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey and tagging along behind was Chris Schotz. Either they didn't go to the convenience store, or they got out first. Whatever, this was a big turn of events in the front, as Cornbread is certainly capable of powering out a first place finish, even after getting out front at this early stage. But I figured things might get shuffled up again at Eldora just a wee bit up the road, since skipping two convenience stores would be unthinkable, or so I thought.

The clearest road of T.I.V9? North of Eldora
At any rate, I got back into the truck and passed them finally just before Mormon Ridge Road and left them behind. I got to the road closed section and drove right through it. Then on toward Eldora over many hills and wide open spaces. The Sun was riding up in the sky by now and it was a fine, hot day. As I approached Eldora, I could see that the wind was starting to pick up. Not very strong, but enough to let you know it was there. When the riders turned Southward, it would be in their faces.

Wally and George texted me and said they were getting grub in Eldora. I was not far behind them. I swung into the convenience store, which was several blocks off course, and got a chicken sandwich. Wally and George didn't text me that they were at the river just north of town until I had passed them. I wasn't wanting to miss the leaders coming out of Eldora, so I parked on the road and waited. It wasn't too long before I saw a lone rider coming. Chris Schotz! My guess was that going off course wasn't in his game plan, and that Corey probably did take the left turn off, so Chris decided to motor on without stopping. Risky move, but who knows what he's packing in his bag or on his person for food and water.

Climbing out of the Iowa River Valley......again!
I had to get going though, so I didn't wait for him to pass me and I jetted up the road with Wally and George's truck and Jason's Element in tow, as they caught up to me at about the same time. We were a caravan of T.I. vehicles! Pretty soon I had to pull off to mark a corner that had a sign that was folded over so you couldn't read it. Jason, Wally, and George kept going up the road.

Wally texted me that another sign looked bad and gave me the location. I headed on up the road, which crossed the Iowa River here four times. It was a twisty-turny section that was a bit bewildering. I didn't want anyone to miss a corner! I pulled the truck off to the opposite side of the road, since the corner was blind on the inside, and got out to set up two stakes with streamers attached. One stake in, and then I saw a truck coming, it slowed, then it stopped, and then I saw the back up lights come on.

"Okay, now what?!!", I was thinking, as the window went down and my gaze fell upon two individuals, a man and a woman, that can only be described as "Iowa Hillbillies". The man asked what I was up to. I kindly and politely said I was merely marking a turn to indicate to some following riders where to turn on a route I had devised through there. The man stated that he was curious, since they had trouble recently with mushroom poachers. Then the female piped up and said that they were real angry about that, and that they owned all the land on either side of the road there. I stated we were merely passing through and were not going to be getting off our bicycles and poaching shrooms.

I backed away slowly when it seemed they were accepting my explanations and they quietly, but slowly rolled away. Whew!

Wally and George texted that they all were headed for Checkpoint #2 and so was Jason. Not much later Jeremy texted that he and Robert were rendezvousing there soon as well. On to Checkpoint #2 then under a hot, bright Sun.

Next: Good Friends- Good Times!