|Always a cut up. Jeff driving his Mazda on Trans Iowa recon for v2 in 2005|
Trans Iowa ended up becoming the vehicle that brought Jeff and I closer together than we ever had been. It was the only real "outside of the work place' activity we ever enjoined in besides one, maybe two bicycle rides.
So, as I recall, we went out and drove the v1 course in a weekend. I won't get all into the finer details, but working with Jeff was actually really easy. First of all, I don't think either one of us had a clue as to what to expect. So, with open minds and a lot of creativity, we were able to get along really well.
I guess that in looking back it was mostly the evening on Saturday of recon that stands out to me yet so many years later. I visited Jeff's family and stayed overnight with them in the home where Jeff grew up in Algona, Iowa. I think it bears mentioning this, since I learned a lot about who Jeff was, and is, from that brief time at his parents house.
If you've ever had the opportunity to visit someone's childhood home not many years removed from when they lived there, you will relate to this. Mementos and pictures from Jeff's and his sister's childhood were still everywhere in the home. Of course they would be. Jeff had a great relationship with his parents and they were still,(and are still to this day), married and at that time were living in that house where he grew up. No real reason that this kind of stuff wouldn't be up there. And no real reason for his parents not to regale me with stories of Jeff's upbringing, much to Jeff's embarrassment. Stories about his passion for fishing and how that led to his love of cycling. Stories about how the local bike shop helped push Jeff into trying a race, and then how that blossomed into a successful XC racing period for Jeff. In fact, I got to visit Jeff's "home town shop", a converted garage, and in it hung a banner showing Jeff and his MTB bike in some race, as if he was a Pro racing star. It was impressive.
This was the main impact I had from our weekend of driving gravel roads together, and it made me appreciate Jeff's down to Earth attitude and our friendship even more. Plus, the Scotcheroos his Mother made for dessert that night were to die for.
But furthermore; Jeff was an "activator". He knew how to get people activated, and he knew when those people were good for what he wanted to see getting done. Take me for instance. Jeff must have seen something in me that not even I knew I had. In fact, he just assumed the day of race stuff I would handle, so pre-race meeting, checkpoint details, and all the clearing of the route ahead of the riders was all my baby. Jeff just wanted to know what I was going to do, but he very rarely asked for any changes or considerations on my end. I was kind of thinking I was just going to be the "right hand man" in the deal, but Jeff kind of made it so I didn't even realize that I had a integral part to play.
Next: The People Of Hawarden, Iowa and how Trans Iowa v1 was welcomed with open arms by the townspeople.