Sunday, September 29, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Tales Of v3

The "Dirty Blue Box" as seen on a recon of v4's course.
"Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

 The memories I have that are most vivid about the first part of v3 are those of relief over getting the cues squared away, then the assembly line bag stuffing deal I did with myself and my two young children. That was a memorable family time for me, but I was also a bit angry that I was so desperate to get the job done that I felt I had to recruit them. Fortunately, they were willing subjects and I tried to make it as fun as I possibly could.

Then the day of the pre-race, loading up that ridiculously small Honda, with a ton of crap to put on the race, and heading up there to Decorah......alone. See, this was the very first time I had done this without Jeff. The year before was a stellar experience with him. We had fun, the camaraderie was unforgettable, and I cherished that experience, and still do. This time? Wow! Was that a pit-in-the-gut, lonely drive facing a task I was not sure I was prepared for. Plus, I had the deal with Zach, who wanted to meet me to brief him on the event. Uggh! I felt very uncomfortable.

To top all that off, I only secured the upper level of the sports bar in town a short time before this event as the meeting spot for T.I.v3's pre-race. It was an ancient Odd Fellows hall above T-Bock's in downtown Decorah. The building was old, and the space hadn't been occupied in decades, judging from the run down appearance of things. The T-Bock's folks had told me that they had intended on renovating the space, but had never gotten around to it. The venue was reached by going around the back into a separate entrance, and then up a steep, wide staircase. There you found a short entryway, an old, wooden bar, and beyond that, a big empty room with a few tables and chairs which we could use as a meeting room. This was in the same space we used for the first Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, later that Summer.

The pre-race meeting for v3. Image by Cale Wenthur.

I remember hauling up all the stuff I had which took several trips up and down that steep staircase. It was tiring. Then, off to meet Zach and get him up to speed. That actually was enjoyable. Despite my never having had any contact with him besides e-mail, we hit it off pretty well, I thought, and I took him out on course to give him a view of what to expect there. In speaking with Zach, he revealed to me that his whole investigative trip was made possible by an advance the publisher had sent to him. He felt a deep responsibility to deliver a good book, so I think he was feeling as nervous and under pressure as I felt I was. Maybe that was where our connection started. Anyway....

With that under my belt I was set to do the pre-race. I saw a few T-Bock's folks and they wanted to know if I needed any beer or soft drinks up there. Hmm..... Did I? What did I need? These details were things I never dreamed of having to deal with. I was unsure, but in the end, the beer flowed and people started showing up.

Questions, questions, and more questions. I recall getting a bit annoyed by that. Then I started the meeting and out of the slightly over 100 bags I had made up and cue sheet sets I worked my ass off making, only 64 people showed up to claim them. 64! Fully half of the registered riders originally, and fully over 40 no-shows! (Previously I had thought it was maybe 35, but I found where I had taken nearly 110 bags to the event, so...) It was extremely embarrassing, angering, and I was fit to be tied. The riders seemed nonplussed, happy, and excited to ride the next day. I was pissed off. I don't remember saying much to anyone post-meeting. I was a bit surprised by those that offered a helping hand to get stuff out of there that night though. That was a nice gesture. If you were one of those folks and you are reading this, I am very thankful for your assistance that evening! Finally, I went back to my motel room immediately to grab some shut eye.

At least I slept like a baby. Probably the best night of sleep pre-Trans Iowa I ever had in the 14 years of doing it.

Next: More Stories of v3

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