Sunday, February 09, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #38

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....

We were done with going any further with Trans Iowa v6. The weather was just too crazy, and with all this rain, David was sure a B Road just two miles from Checkpoint #3 was going to have a section about 3-6 feet under water. It was going to be very dangerous for the riders, and for this reason, we were calling off the event. Now it was just a matter of how to do that and get everyone off the roads. While we were discussing options, I received a text from Joe Meiser wondering if we were calling off the event. I was punching in an answer when he called and asked me direct.

David Pals with John Gorilla at the EV Malt Shop in North English
The deal was that if we were not calling it off, Gorilla and Meiser were going back out. They were going to ride until (a) everyone else dropped, or (b) they somehow made it to CP#3 on time, but they'd rather not do either. I said we were calling it off and I asked where they were. The EV Malt Shop was the answer, and we were told they would be closing up soon, so we should hurry. I was also told that they were quite sure no one else had passed them. Joe said it took them 2.5 hours to get to North English, and that was only 25 miles past Checkpoint #2! If these strong cyclists took that long, how in the world would anyone have made Checkpoint #3 in the allotted time?

Matt Braun shortly after we flagged him down. Note the rain!
David and I arrived at the EV Malt Shop and made contact with Joe and John. They told us no one had made it there since we had spoken to them nearly a half an hour beforehand. Furthering our confidence in stopping the event here, since with such deteriorating weather conditions and in the pitch black of night, rider progress would have been even slower than it had been.

It wasn't long before we started seeing riders. We knew we had two of the eight folks we were looking for and Corey Godfrey came in next, making the total now five out on the road. David and I were spending a lot of time standing out in the rain looking for folks, so we weren't aware that the shop was to close at 8:00pm until it was almost time for them to close up. I was a bit frantic about where we would move this to next, and some talk was made of going up the street to the convenience store, when the manager of the shop came out and spoke with me.

Order up! The EV Malt Shop pretty much saved our day at the last minute!
He assured me that it was going to be okay to have our race end there and to boot: He even reopened the kitchen, his staff stayed late to serve us, and everyone had fresh, hot food to eat after a rain soaked ending to T.I.v6!

Matt Braun, Eric Brunt, then the Petervarys came in. Finally Charles Parsons showed up, and we had all eight riders accounted for. The owner of the Malt Shop even had a garden hose out back so the riders could hose off the grime and mud accumulated throughout the day. What a fantastic ending to a really crappy day. David and I were astounded by the EV Malt Shop's owner and employee's sacrifice and service to us and the riders. Words still cannot convey how much David and I still feel grateful for that night. Amazing!

 We had about three different groups coming out from Grinnell to get the riders and bicycles back to the motels. Even our Checkpoint #3 folks showed up  to help! I am still blown away by all the volunteered support we saw happen that night as well.
After counting him out, there was Eric Brunt at the end after all!

 In the end, we saw everyone off, and then thanked the owner of the EV Malt Shop profusely for his help and for that of his employees. He was just stoked to have been a part of Trans Iowa, and I think we were probably the talk of the town for at least a few days afterword.

We tried to get the word out about the Barn and that we would be meeting folks there after we had gotten back from North English. The drive back was not an easy one either! The winds were such that the rain was blowing sideways and I recall that passing semi-tractor trailer rigs was a big exercise in faith. David couldn't see anything for a few seconds after each pass of a big rig, and there were a lot of those on the way back.

Joe Meiser, Charles Parsons, John Gorilla. L-R In the Barn

 When we parked at the nature reserve and got out to walk the half mile to the barn, the rain was blowing so hard sideways I thought that it must be what being in a hurricane was like. David and I agreed that we made a good decision when we called the event when we did. It was really a good example of inhumane conditions and in no way did we want to have to be out there ourselves.

Inside the Barn, we met with a small group of folks. Beers were had, prizing was handed out, and much talking was done. It was here in this setting that I asked the guys present to tell me what, if anything, should be changed about Trans Iowa. All around, there was agreement that it was good as it was. John Gorilla is credited with one idea that has been implemented into Trans Iowas since V6. That had to do with registration. It was thought that finishers should be granted first crack at the roster, since they had overcome the challenge at least once and earned the right of first choice. Then the Veterans of Trans Iowa could be allowed in, then Rookies.

We didn't figure out how that would actually work out then, but it was the number one change that came out of this event. That and a few tweaks would be made for V7. Oh yes, David and I agreed already by this time to do it again. That was the end of the event for this time though. David and I slept the evening in the motel. The next day we were packing up and other racers were telling us thanks and were hoping to see us again in another year. It was very humbling.

Despite the weather, Trans Iowa v6 was a seminal event in the history of Trans Iowa. There was no doubt in David's mind or in my mind that we should come back to Grinnell. The city actually wanted us, the venue was great, and we had "unfinished business" with the area. There would be no changing venue again for a while at least.


Anonymous said...

What about the crazy spectator???? The suspense is killing me.

Guitar Ted said...

@Dashton: Since the "admonishment" came post T.I.v6, you will see what I did in the next post on Trans Iowa Tales next weekend. Call it a "cliff hanger"! :>)

Kate Geisen said...

That was really cool of the malt shop people. All around good stuff with the volunteers, too. Amazing the way that people step up when there's a need.

Anonymous said...

Sweet, cant wait. Im eating this stuff up. TI 1.o for me this year. Ari is teaching me the way.

kdoggett said...

Yes, I remember your text as Keith and I drove to North English from cp3: "Can you handle a tandem?"