Saturday, December 14, 2013

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #18

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....

The V4 website header
 With weather not cooperating, I was really anxious about T.I.v4 even happening at all, much less being super tough. The rains were torrential leading up to the event and coupled with saturated ground from a recently melted snow pack, it was looking like flooding would be our first concern. In fact, David Pals almost didn't come up for the event at all, since he had copious amounts of water in his basement the morning of the pre-race meeting. Oh well! I was wondering if I would be doing another solo run of Trans Iowa when I left town on Friday to head up to Decorah.

I was so concerned that I drove a major portion of the beginning of T.I.v4 backwards going to Decorah to verify that we could even put on the event. I did just over 100 miles of gravel recon and only the low water crossing of the Turkey River was impassable. I did a quick recon of a reroute and had a plan in place to re-route riders using ribbon and lathe sticks. This was learned from the Dirty Kanza 200, and I still use this same re-route procedure to this day for Trans Iowa.

A stray calf from the last recon of the v4 course.
My memories of that morning are of being extremely stressed out and worried about the event not being run. I recall being more relaxed that the roads I was on were looking okay, and that maybe we were going to be fine. Sure- the Turkey River crossing looked bad, but that was minor.

I was very close to getting to Decorah when I suddenly was stopped in my tracks by a calf standing in the road. It just stood there, gazing at me, so I took a picture of the little critter and then it finally decided to bound off the road and out of my way. Little did I know this would become an enduring image of Trans Iowa in the future.

I got to Decorah by mid-afternoon and I was told to make sure I saw the cook at T Bock's so I could "approve the sauce". Yeah......that was weird! I sat down as the cook was fetched and she came out with two pots of steaming tomato sauce for our spaghetti meal that night. I test tasted them, heard all her worrying about the sauces not being good enough for us, and gave her my hearty approval for both. She left, a little less stressed and relieved somewhat.  I was wondering who she thought I was and what Trans Iowa folks were like. Maybe someone had told her we were tough customers, I don't know, but all the fuss and attention was flattering and totally unnecessary, I thought.

Me standing, David Pals to my right, Steve Fuller to my left.
David and his brother Mark finally arrived, and with some others help, pre-race bags were stuffed. We didn't have an impressive amount of goodies either, but the participants were stoked none the less. They filed in and sat down to spaghetti and beers. The amount of beer consumed at this particular pre-race was pretty amazing, by the way. Even the T Bock's staff was surprised by this.

The main thing I recall about this particular meeting was that I met a lot of people that were to become dear friends and acquaintances of mine. The Slender Fungus guys, Steve Fuller, John Gorilla, Charlie Farrow, some more of the Lincoln Nebraska group I hadn't met before, and others. In a lot of ways, T.I.v4 was a starting point. Between this and T.I.v3, a lot of new people were added to my life, and I am a much better person for all of that.

A couple of things are brought to mind by this last image here. First, you might notice the limestone chunk on the table. That was David Pals' idea. He figured Trans Iowa should have a proper trophy and he carved out the letters on the block which would be presented to the winner. Secondly, Steve Fuller was a volunteer that year, and he showed up with a lap top and spread sheets with all sorts of digital organization. Trans Iowa was looking a bit more professional this go round for sure!

Well, as I recall the pre-race went really smoothly. The riders didn't question the re-route procedure, so I figured we were good to go. I went to the motel with a howling wind and temperatures that were dropping rapidly. I was okay with it though, hoping the wind would dry things off for us.

Tomorrow: The chilling start to T.I.v4


Ari said...

I remember that day. I remember how lucky I felt to be there with my pal Dr. Giggles. That would be the start of our love with Trans Iowa. Thanks for posting these stories.

Guitar Ted said...

@Ari: likewise, I remember you two quite vividly as well. It was the start of something really good, but at the time, I had no idea of what that would look like.

I'm glad you are enjoying the series. I am having a good time writing it up.

Steve Fuller said...

Ari - That was the first year for me too. I can't recall clearly, but I think my reasons for volunteering were to pay-it-forward somehow for all of the other free events that I had attended previously, and I thought it would give me a taste of what I might be in for if I ever decided to enter the event. I do recall thinking that without Mark getting more help to lower his stress level, the race wouldn't go on, and I would never get a chance to try myself. A bit self serving, but it's the truth.

Dr. Giggles said...

I too remember that meeting vividly. I had no idea about what we would experience starting at 4am the next morning, but recall feeling a wonderful mixture of anticipation, excitement, doubt, and fear. Indeed, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Thank you for these stories and all that is Trans Iowa.