Sunday, December 22, 2013

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #21

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....

Charles Parson heading toward our makeshift finish line in Edgewood
 As David Pals and I looked at each other at the bottom of that hill in the darkness of night, we knew in our hearts we had run out of options to push Trans Iowa v4 any further up the road. Now it was time to decide what to do about putting an end to the event.

We knew that only five men were still in the event. We quickly called our Checkpoint #2 folks, and they informed us that all had passed through with the exception of Corey Godfrey. He was informed of our predicament, but it would be incumbent upon us to catch the other riders to tell them that the town of Edgewood would be the finish of T.I.v4.

We quickly identified a corner where we could set up a makeshift finish line near the end of a street that was on the course. We weren't there too long when we were questioned by the local cops. What were we doing and why were we standing around? When I explained that we were ending a bicycle race there, the local law enforcement officer said, "Well, I hope they aren't out there all night. There are plenty of drunks on the road around here." That was not very encouraging news! But it did reinforce our feelings that we were doing the right thing by ending the event. The only other option we had to continue the event was to run the riders about 4 miles around on a heavily trafficked blacktop. With reports of drunks confirmed by the local officers, we were glad to be ending the ride where we did.

Winner John Gorilla with his "gutter beer".
Not long after that John Gorilla's support crew came around a bend and stopped in front of us. They had gotten word about the finish from having been at Checkpoint #2 when we called. We decided to ask them to man the last corner before our position, and to warn the riders the end was four blocks up the street.

They agreed to this and it wasn't much longer when we heard screams and cheering. This all a little after midnight! Well, David and I watched as three riders sprinted up the street. One made a move and got a little clear of the other two. It would be John Gorilla who would cross the "finish line" first followed by John Kucharski and Charlie Farrow.  There was a bit of confusion and anger at first for our ending the event, but after some explanation, all three agreed it was the prudent, (yet not altogether popular), move to end the event there.

John's crew, with his wife Adele, all arrived then on the scene and things were a bit chaotic for a bit. Riders were taken care of, plans were made to get riders back to Decorah, and Adele found John a beer in the gutter, which he promptly cracked open and drank with gusto. Soon though, it was quieter, as we awaited the next finisher, Charles Parsons, who was attached to John's group. Charles rolled up about an hour later, and they quickly packed him in the vehicle to get back to Decorah. It was getting colder now and we were all alone again in Edgewood.

Skip Cronin talks with Cornbread at the finish of T.I.v4
 Not for long though, as a huge van full of Lincoln Nebraska riders and support folk rolled up in Edgewood. They had heard my report on Trans Iowa Radio about the impromptu finish line. Their "last man standing", Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey, was the last man out on course. They were there to fetch him when he arrived.

The Lincoln crew was boisterous and full of energy at first. I was a bit concerned, seeing as how it was about 2am in the morning! However; one by one they wandered back to the van to warm up or go to sleep. Things quieted down, and it wasn't long before David and I were standing there, peering into the dark waiting to see an LED lamp round the last corner of T.I.v4.

Earlier I was warned that Corey could be "directionally challenged" especially in the darkness. This greatly concerned David and I. Around about 3am, David was peering up the street when he suddenly turned, looked me in the eye and said, "Let's go!" I knew exactly what we were going to do too. We backtracked the course. Looking for signs of Corey. Maybe he had taken a wrong turn? Maybe he was crashed out by a frost heave or......? The imagination runs wild after being up for 24 hours straight with all the stresses we had been subjected to.

Suddenly David saw him. His little LED light bobbing in the dank blackness. We stopped and chatted Cornbread up. He was tired, but seemed coherent. He had been a bit befuddled by the rerouting and had considered sleeping off his fatigue in a ditch but thought better of that when he heard coyotes yipping in the shadows near by!

John Gorilla raises the "trophy stone" the following day in Decorah.
 Well, Cornbread was led in and the Lincoln crew quickly collected him and disappeared into the night. David and I loaded up the SUV I used that year and headed off to our room in Decorah for a couple hours of shuteye before we were to meet John Gorilla and Joe Kucharski to download their prizing at a Kwik Star convenience store parking lot. 

That was pretty much that. Trans Iowa v4 was done and David and I headed our separate ways. In the days immediately following T.I.v4 I did my usual assessment and thought about the future. I liked the two checkpoint idea a lot. I liked T Bock's handling of our Pre-Race meeting. I pondered moving Trans Iowa somewhere else. David and I actually had discussed moving it around Iowa to explore different parts of the state, but I figured we would do at least one more out of Decorah. I had some roads I wanted to use that we hadn't used yet. Of course, something would happen that would change all of that! More on that later....

There was some grousing about the truncated event, that it wasn't a "real Trans Iowa", but I put that into the perspective of Trans Iowa v2, which no one "finished", but we recognized a "winner of the overall prize" that year in Lindsay Gauld, so why not just say that John Gorilla "won" T.I.v4? It wasn't his fault we had to stop the event. Anyway, T.I.v2 and v4 set a precedent that I have used since, and that's the way it goes with long events like this that have to account for road conditions and weather.

Next Week: Trans Iowa gets shunned.

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