Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Trans Iowa v13: Rule #24 Explanation

It was brought to my attention yesterday that the new rule #24 is a bit confusing, perhaps, so I am going to make this as clear as I can before we get to the event.

First, we have to take a look at the rule, then I will explain why I added it, then I will give some examples of the rule to maybe help shed some light on this.

First the rule.....

24: Participants must remain within the primary boundaries of the roadway at all times. If the roadway is bordered by fences or ditches, riders must stay between them. If the roadway is in open range, stay on the roadway. Leaving the roadway or climbing over a fence is considered short cutting the course and will result in disqualification

This rule was added for a few reasons. First and foremost it was added because of an incident I witnessed at the Dirty Kanza 200's 2015 running. Otherwise known as the "Mud Year".  As many will recall, the first mud roads were reached about 10-11 miles in to the event which required dismounting, carrying your bike, and traversing difficult muddy, grassy, and uneven ditches for three miles or so. (See below) The other main reason was a confrontation with a landowner at last year's Trans Iowa. (Also- See below) Finally, I have heard it said in jest that if riders come upon a road that is nasty mud, that they would just hop the fence and run in the field if it looked easier. 

The following images help explain what I am talking about.
The March. Dirty Kanza 200, 2015. 
 I want to reference the image above to make a point. This was taken by myself at the DK200 in 2015 in the latter stages of "The March" through those sticky mud roads. Notice that beyond the fences the ground is covered with grasses. It was much easier going in the fields, but of course, you couldn't use the fields. Or could you? Apparently a few thought this idea was okay as I witnessed more than one person jumping the fence and running across the open fields. This was, of course, illegal trespassing on private land. The very next year, (2016), this was discussed in detail at the rider's meeting for the 2016 DK200 and it was explained that this would not be tolerated any further. 

The site of Checkpoint #2 for Trans Iowa v12.
 Now I want to reference the above image to show that there are no fences here. Also- there is no discernible "ditch". Last year we were approached by the land owner of the lands that this road passes through. This is a public road, as noted by the signage behind the cars. The landowner contended that we were trespassing on their land by parking on the grassy areas alongside the road. 

The situation was diffused to the satisfaction of both parties, but in the heat of the moment, technicalities of the law notwithstanding, the landowner has the right of refusal here. At least for the moment, and I would have deferred to this landowner had an agreement not been reached, and CP#2 would have been adjusted accordingly. 

That's all water under the dam, but my point is that had the road been muddy, the landowner would have forced us to make riders walk the middle of this, and if that wasn't happening, we would have had to have rerouted the course around this.  Whether that was according to the rule of law or not makes no difference to Trans Iowa. I would have deferred to the landowner. So would have you had to......

No where to go but forward....

 Here is a great example of where you have no choices. I think the point is pretty much made clear with this sort of road. You aren't going to scramble up the embankments, and the easiest way ahead on course is the road. 

Mixed bag- One side is fenceless, the other has a fence.
There can be a mixed bag- Fence on one side, no fence on the other. In this case I would avoid the field to the left and choose the right hand side ditch if I were trying to avoid mud in the roadway. 

Interpretation: So, the spirit of this rule is pretty simple- DO NOT TRESPASS ON PRIVATE LAND! And maybe that's how the rule should read, actually. However; the riders will have to negotiate a differing scenario of Level B Roads across the 300 plus mile course of Trans Iowa. By the way, Level B Roads, and perhaps in towns, are the only places I can see this ever being applied. But the bottom line is to keep off private lands, keep it between the fences, and when there are no fences, use your best judgement. I would then encourage you to stay on the roadway, but that may not be the best way to do things in the mind of a cyclist with 200 miles in their legs. 

Also, and this is very important- This has never been a problem at Trans Iowa. I just want to keep it that way. 

Make sense? If not, send me a comment and I will help you out here.


75 miles south said...

66 feet is the standard road (right of way) width in Iowa. Property records at my best guess for checkpoint 2, are consistent with that standard. Good luck measuring dead center etc, with no fences, no ditches and row crops pushed into that right of way... but I'm glad you and the farmer were able to work it out last year. Most likely, if you're parked "road side" of that road conditions sign, you're good to stay. I doubt that the county would place that sign on private property. [italics in post noted and your reasoning is understood, but letting private land owners claim the roadways as their private domain, isn't in my nature]. I know some farmers/rural residents actually do maintain the B roads more often than the counties, but having had a few grumpy "get off my lawn" [ or get off my road] types "win" doesn't do anything for cyclists, generally.

Guitar Ted said...

@ 75 miles south: I understand your points and they are well taken, but in the heat of the moment, with 90 or so cyclists bearing down on that checkpoint, I didn't have a lot of time to be "right". I needed a solution/resolution. I'm sure you know what I mean.

But again- all water under the dam now.

Still, if we follow common sense and stay in the roadway, we are going to have the best chance of not ticking anyone off. In terms of Trans Iowa, this is important. It also bears mentioning that there were extenuating circumstances which helped to prompt the landowners response which were not related to cycling at all. But that story is for another time.....

Finally, I will reiterate that this has never been an issue from the standpoint of Trans Iowa riders. I just want to keep it that way.

75 miles south said...

I totally understand that you as "organizer" have significantly different priorities than "just-riding-around-on-a-Saturday" me. I don't blame you for clarifying or emphasizing, to your participants, the importance of respecting real property rights.

I'd love to hear what meth-heads or high school morons did to that farmer's field to make him sensitive about his corner ditch. Good luck with final preps this year.