|A fat, nearly full Moon over Iowa|
Then the turn on to 37th Street and gravel. We were off now on our own. The fat, nearly full moon graced the Iowa rural landscape in its luminescence. Honestly, I cannot remember a lot about talking about much besides the commands to turn this way or that and the conditions of the race which were going to affect the riders.
The gravel was dry, very dusty, and loose. Despite that, I figured the event would be fast. MG agreed. We figured that riders would start showing up at Hartwick, Iowa, the location of Checkpoint #1, shortly after 6:00am with a guessed at 18 mph average speed. There were fast enough guys in the field to do this, for sure. Dan Hughes, the defending race winner, Greg Gleason, Eric Brunt, and Walter Zitz, all former winners, along with Luke Wilson, Corey Godfrey, and some new hot shots. There was no reason to not believe at that time that the event had a sub-24 hour look to it.
|The Moon slightly obscured. It was a beautiful start to T.I.v14|
The air was dry though. Really dry by Iowa standards. 40% humidity with any wind is no joke and I figured a few people would likely suffer issues related to that throughout the day. But the event seemed to have this record number of finishers feel to it at the start. Kind of like v12, which saw 42 folks finish. Still, everything has to line up for that to happen. Just having the roads be as sketchy and loose at the beginning as they were was pause to consider that a record finishing rate wasn't going to happen. Plus, my friend Wally had driven out further on Friday on the course and pronounced the roads as being really rough. Hmm......
But in the meantime, it was just a bumpy ride toward Checkpoint #1 with MG. Suddenly the phone sprang to life, startling me. It isn't uncommon to have a DNF call this early in the event, but seasoned Trans Iowa veterans like Jeremy Kershaw usually are not at the the other end of those texts and calls. Unfortunately, it was him, and respiratory problems forced him to abandon. Both MG and I were shocked and saddened. But onward we went.
|MG and I stopped at the intersection of four Level B roads to soak in the atmosphere.|
|Much later than expected, the lead group finally arrives at CP#1|
Hartwick is not very big. It is a village, maybe five or six blocks for the entire place, and seemingly surrounded by herds of cows. Cows that were not happy. Not by the evidence of their melodious bellering, which filled the air. Despite our hi jinx and the loud sounds emanating from the bovine residents of Hartwick, we were alone out there in the street. Perhaps the invasion of outsiders was so alarming we frightened the few residents of Hartwick away into hiding behind curtains and blinds. Or, perhaps they just couldn't have cared less.
As six o'clock passed we strained our eyes Southward down the main street of Hartwick looking for any signs of riders up. Six fifteen went by and still nothing. Puzzled looks at 6:30am and we were still waiting. Maybe this was a harder day than any of us imagined. Finally, at about ten minutes to seven, riders appeared. About nine strong, this group included Greg Gleason, Luke Wilson, Dan Hughes, and Walter Zitz. The usual suspects. Then, something surprising happened. Dan Hughes stated he was waiting for his girlfriend, who was also in the event. He poked fun, or made some comment which elicited a terse comeback from Gleason. Then the sneaky Eric Brunt tried a surprise escape and bolted on out of the checkpoint. Hughes bellowed that the chasers better get going, and the small group of riders was off again, with Nick Legan bringing up the rear.
Dan made some small talk with us and then we bade him farewell. MG and I hopped back into the Subie in hot pursuit of the lead group in the bright morning Sun.
Next: Hanging Out At Trans Iowa