Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Trans Iowa v13: Red Dawn In The Morning

Corner of 320th Avenue and 20th Street, Powesheik County, Iowa: It is pitch black out here. Farm yard lights dot the countryside. The sky looks like an inkwell. The Stars and the Moon seem to have gone on vacation. MG and I are parked at the end of a Level B Maintenance road waiting for the arrival of the T.I.v13 field.

The wind is cold and hard out of the Northeast as I look back Eastward. The riders would have a big tailwind push for most of the day that day, but soft roads, fresh gravel, and Level B Roads, like the one we were standing in front of, would make their hoped for quick progress much more difficult.

The lead group picks their way through on the North side of the ditch as the Sun begins to paint the morning sky red.
We watched as the first 20 or so riders cleared the B road and then we went back to chasing down the course. We eventually passed all the riders as they spun up hills with blurred legs and coasted down the other side.

MG and I were eventually on the long, eastward run which was the main amount of mileage for the first leg of T.I.v13. 14 miles straight West. Big rollers and loose, chunky gravel in here. Suddenly a fiery red glow catches my eye. Whoa! I have MG stop the car and we get out to admire the Sunrise.

The Sunrise Saturday of Trans Iowa v13 was by far and away the most spectacular one I've witnessed during a T.I.
 At times, the sky literally looked as if it were on fire. The clouds were an intense purple, and the contrast was simply breath taking.We actually stopped again to admire this on the way to Checkpoint #1. But the old saying, "Red sky in the morning, Sailors take warning!" was running through my mind as I stood to admire this light show. Those sailing the waves of Iowa gravel would find that this saying had some teeth to it later on in the day.

That would be the only appearance of the Sun all weekend at Trans Iowa. Clouds quickly overtook the skies from the South and we were shivering in our shoes not long afterward as we arrived in Baxter, Iowa to see how our Checkpoint #1 volunteers were doing.

Christina Grelk smiles from the shelter that she and her husband, Dennis, (L) bought for us to use at CP#1
We pulled in and were chatting with the volunteers for a bit. The arrival of the first riders wouldn't be for a while now with the Level B road having slowed them down a bit. But eventually they did. Trickling in by twos and threes or the occasional single rider. This Trans Iowa already had a speedy group of three to five, depending upon the time of the morning, that the winner would emerge from. Here is a bit of a Periscope video I put up from the checkpoint.

A stiff wind blowing out of the Northeast.
The leaders roll in to the checkpoint.
Jackson Hinde (L) and Matt Acker at CP#1
Five rolled in pretty much together at CP#1 including Dan Hughes, Walter Zitz, Greg Gleason, Matt Acker, and Jackson Hinde. Of course, we didn't know it then, but the eventual winner and  five of the six finishers of T.I.v13 were represented here in this group. Amazing!

MG and I stuck around to see about four others roll in. Luke Wilson was one of those. He had gotten a stomach flu days ahead of T.I.v13 and lost about 8 pounds of weight. Yet, he still showed up and put in a heck of a ride. Amazing!

MG and I then headed out with the checkpoint well in the capable hands of the stellar volunteer crew of Dennis and Christina Grelk, Jon Duke, Patrice Parsons, Todd Southworth, Julie Fisher, Jess Rundlett, and Dori Jansma. They manned the outpost at the end of the Chichaqua Trail until 8:15 am. The checkpoint saw many folks not make it in time due to conditions and mechanicals. We were down 23 riders by 8:15 and two more within the next hour also DNF'ed.

We were on some very familiar roads- for me- as we left the checkpoint. It is hard to use a road in Powesheik or Jasper County for Trans Iowa that I haven't already used. We went by Melbourne, crossed Highway 330, and then finally into Marshall County where I finally had the route on roads that were new to me. One of these included a new Level B Road.

That road was also going to force some walking, but it either was too early into the event, or not a big deal, because I never heard about any complaints concerning it it after Trans Iowa was over. It was a pretty level road with wider, flatter ditches, so maybe it was an easy obstacle to tackle.

Luke Wilson heading out to CP#2 after CP#1
Then we went further West. The roads flattened out, but I managed to find a section that was "off the grid" to spice up things a bit and keep everyone from loosing their minds on the normal gridded out roads we have here.

When doing any route like this, usually the first thing I do is find ways across, over, under, or around the major obstacles. Big highways and freeways are part of this, so I had a route in mind to get over Interstate 35. It was at about the right point to keep my route plan intact without adding a ton of miles. Well, low and behold, when we reconned it, I recognized this area leading up to the bridge as being on the first Gent's Race course. Cool! Well, that stayed in and I shared the story with MG as we bounced along in the Subaru.

Before that we went through Iowa Center. I put that tiny town on the route because it worked out perfectly for the route I had in mind. I do not know if it is, indeed, the center of Iowa, but I figured, why not? Besides, now I can say I've been there.

Then MG and I rolled through Gent's Race territory. We were in communication with our other roving volunteers, Tony and Mike, who were marking corners. We found a missing signpost at Unicorn and 310th. Apparently someone wanted the "unicorn" part of the sign and it was missing. So we called in our intrepid cohorts to do a marking there. With that taken care of we rolled onward. Later, our other volunteers, John and Celeste Mathias sat at that very corner and relayed rider's numbers to us as they passed by which was a huge help in keeping track of the 48 riders still in the event.

MG and I had to eat, so we stopped at a Casey's in Madrid for pizza. It passed muster so we knew it would be good fuel for the riders. However; some stopped at the Fat Tire Lounge which was right on the bike path we routed the riders through town on. Well, there were some unknown benefits to the route that paid off then!

Next: A Bridge In The Rain 

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