Sunday, January 12, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #28

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....

 So, there were these four new race leaders, with only Charlie Farrow having any previous T.I. front runner status, but I learned throughout the day that Dave Praaman was also an experienced racer and one to watch closely. Meiser was a T.I. veteran and finisher of v3, so I knew he was experienced, and I'd been told he was a tough dude. Tim Ek was the question mark for us. Yes- he had finished T.I.v3, but as we knew he was in arrears on supplies, we were skeptical of his being able to hang on.

There were some early surprises. John Gorilla, the T.I.v4 winner, suffered a mechanical and had to withdraw, Charly Tri, as I found out later, was "the tree that fell on a B road" that Joe Meiser was trying to tell me about at the convenience store in North English. His derailleur hangar broke. Several other DNF's and mechanicals started coming to our attention. The roads were fresh with gravel in many places, and a Westerly wind rose up, mostly in the faces of the riders as they stair stepped up towards Checkpoint #2 which would be a big factor for many riders in the event. We were on our way to that very checkpoint to see about our volunteers.

Matt Braun hamming it up for the camera. (Image by Cornbread)
It was a beautiful day by the time we got to the convenience store in LeGrand Iowa, where we had planned Checkpoint #2 to be at. David and I arrived to find a couple of our guys there and not long after our arrival, Matt Maxwell rode in on his bicycle from Ames to serve as one of our volunteers as well.

With everything in order, we only had to await the arrival of the leaders.  The four showed up still together and hit the convenience store for supplies. David and I then decided we would run a short loop and return to the checkpoint later to see how things were coming along, and to actually take in the middle part of a Trans Iowa event, which neither of us had taken the time to do before.

Everything checked out okay, so we hit the checkpoint again at a time when the place was hopping with our riders and with customers in general. Bicycles were laid up against all sides of the store, as is usual with any gravel event in the Mid-West. However; as we learned later, the store was understaffed. They only had two employees on duty, and the place was crawling with customers. Added to this was the fact that this store also was a pizza outlet and orders were being made by one of the staff, leaving a poor, middle aged woman as the defacto only person running the joint!

Well, she had gotten so angry about her situation, and stressed out, that she snapped and was trying to play the role of constable and chase our racers away from the premises. She made a "rule" that no bicycles could be leaned up against the front of the store and was getting pretty animated when I tried to spread the word to everyone to roll with it and get on out of there ASAP. It was a bit tense, and David and I duly noted the store was a privately owned one. We have never used that place as a stop since, by the way!

Typical v5 convenience store madness. (Image by Al Brunner)
Well, we still had one more checkpoint, in Traer Iowa, which by the T.I.v5 course was only 66 miles from CP#2. With the leaders having been gone awhile, David and I decided to get outta Le Grand and take the route to Traer to hopefully cut them off before they arrived there. We skipped a little bit, I think, because I don't remember seeing the leaders until CP#3 there in Traer.

Anyway, I remember lots of DNF's at LeGrand. I also recall seeing some things, (and hearing about others later), that David and I found a bit alarming. Checkpoints were being "leaked" to racer's support folks and they were showing up at the checkpoints to "cheer on" and in some cases, as we learned too late, to "help" out some of the racers. I filed this into the think tank for later and because of these activities we made significant changes to Trans Iowa which have affected it to this very day. I also recall this Trans Iowa as being the one where "social media" via texts, various "aps",  and actual phone calls were something of a "thing". This was much to my dismay as well, since it was something David and I saw as "outside support", but it was something we also knew was virtually unstoppable.

If nothing else, this Trans Iowa had already provoked us to have a lot to consider for a possible V6, and was running uncannily smoothly. In fact, it was probably one of the most laid back, fun Trans Iowas I have been a part of, but there still is more to say about that later.

Next Week: A warrior lost......

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