Sunday, October 20, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Hanging Out In Hawkeye

 "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!

Last week I left off with the meeting of Ira in Janesville and seeing off Marcin Nowak on his pursuit of him. I didn't stick around long as I wanted to be sure nothing fishy was going to happen during the evening.

I still hadn't heard a thing from Zach and I was beginning to think he had bailed out on me when he buzzed me on his cell phone. Now, rural Iowa in 2007 wasn't a very well covered state in terms of cell service. Zach's transmission to me was crackling, static ridden, and he cut out a bit. It was difficult to communicate with him. I tried but we decided to connect later and see if the signal would be better.

In the meantime I was leapfrogging the course again, bypassing more flooded roads which I only learned about well after T.I.v3 was over. In later Trans Iowas this event cemented in me that I had to stick to the course in the future. But for the time being, I was none the wiser. Another issue began to raise its head during this Trans Iowa also. That being that small town convenience stores were ceasing the 24hr service and closing at 10pm, 11pm, and in rare cases, midnight. This meant that the next planned service I had on course would be closed before any riders got there. Yeah......they ended up riding something like 88 miles without service. At least the front runners did. In the early days of Trans Iowa I felt that was a problem. However; I came to understand that the riders could manage longer distances between service opportunities, so later on, an 88 mile stretch between stores was nothing.

Later into the event the slower riders didn't have these issues. They actually were welcomed at 6:00am when this particular place on the T.I.v3 route opened up again. I'd guess about half the 24 finishers benefited. I was a bit upset about it back then because my gauge was to have service opportunities at 50 mile intervals or less. So, I felt a bit of a failure was suffered there on my part, but at the time I just had to let things play out. I could change this in the future. 

Only I was not sure there ever would be a future for Trans Iowa.

Anyway, one of the notable things to me about this T.I. was that I did take a camera, but I lost the files, so I have about two images that I took from it. Weird. That never happened again! But this time, Zach actually covered the event well enough in words that images are not needed as far as my part went, and David Story's awesome covering of the event in terms of images was more than enough to satisfy me. Also, a rider in T.I.v3, Cale Wenthur, took a bunch of great images, some of which I have been using to document T.I.v3 here. (Thanks Cale!)

Speaking of Zach, his take on events of that particular evening were epic. He mentioned being lost in Iowa, the gridded out roads presenting a maze which confused him to no end. He finally did call me and got back on track. By this time I was in Hawkeye awaiting leaders to come by and I was parked in front of a Lutheran Church there. Zach finally arrived a little before 2:00am, and we compared notes from the day. Ira lumbered through town then, with little more than a nod to our existence, he rode on. Then the young women in the truck scene happened:

*".....a pickup truck lumbered around the corner at the telltale pace of a DUI dodger and bumbled over the curb and into the middle of the lawn across the street. A woman jumped out and sprinted inside the house. She left the driver's side door open. She left the country music station on. Blaring. The latest Nashville hits now pound through Hawkeye's half dozen comatose streets, a twangy and tinny surrealist performance-art installation in the making. First I expect the cops to come. then I realize there probably aren't any.

 That was one of the odder things I ever witnessed during a Trans Iowa that wasn't related to the event. By the way, Zach didn't really impart how loud this was. The truck had headers and glass packs, and the stereo was blaring over that. So REALLY LOUD! I remember Zach standing there, slack-jawed, and asking me when the cops would show up. That's when I had to explain to him that there weren't any cops. Maybe a county deputy?.... nah! I told him that the only thing that would happen would be that the local residents would be talking down about it for a few days afterward. Otherwise, standard procedure for these parts!

Not long after this, Marcin came through, his jersey fully unzipped, flapping in the wind. He asked me if there were any convenience stores up the road, and I told him there were none.

" Oh boy, oh boy!", he exclaimed, and he stood up and punched his pedals, disappearing into the blackness. We then waited to see who else would follow up, but by around 3:00am, Zach was cashing out. I stayed up and kept vigil. It was cold, dark, and now eerily silent in Hawkeye. The girl in the truck had long since gone. Nothing was stirring. I had to relieve myself after having downed several Red Bulls. I found a suitable scrub pine behind the church, away from the street, and then I was anxious to get on to the finish line. We had about 40 miles to go, and I figured that Ira would be getting there around 5:00am, so we had to get a move-on.

I tapped on Zach's rental car window until he stirred. "C'mon! We gotta roll!", I said. Zach finally got his act together and we zoomed out of town to the finish. I wanted to be there to make sure I didn't miss it. On the way I rolled a huge racoon under the "Dirty Blue Box" and I was running so hard around the twisty-turny roads that Zach said he could barely hang on to my car. We met up with our two volunteers, Marty and Rob, plus a few others. Zach kind of faded into the background after this point. I was pretty out of it by mid-morning anyway, despite Zach saying that I was bouncing around full of energy. He was busy observing, speaking with others, and then he disappeared. Needed more sleep, I guess, but I don't ever remember saying goodbye to him and I never saw him again.
I've no recollection of doing the awards for T.I.v3. (Image by Cale Wenthur)

Of course, I've written about what happened at the finish a bunch of times. The epic chase of Marcin Nowak coming up ten minutes short. How Team Polska animated the entire finish line experience.  How Ira Ryan was not pleasant to me, and how his entourage was not friendly as well. It's interesting to look back on the apologists who have commented about the incident with Ira in later years, but as it stands, I have never heard from Ira Ryan since that day. And ya know, it doesn't matter. He won. Twice. He was awesome as a cyclist and certainly holds a high place in Trans Iowa history. I will never deny that he did good for the event from afar. If it hadn't been for Ira, Zach would probably never have written the book, and well......I would be poorer for that. So, in the end, despite Ira's malediction at the end of T.I.v3, I still hold that he is a champion of the event. An enigmatic champion- certainly, but a champion none the less.

*Note: Quotation in blue italics is from Zach Dundas' "Renegade Sportsman" chapter on Trans Iowa. I'll be referencing Zach's book in future editions of Trans Iowa Stories. 

Next: The Reasons Why It Shouldn't Ever Have Happened Again 


Rydn9ers said...

Still loving the series, look forward to it every Sunday or Monday.

Guitar Ted said...

@Rydn9ers- Thank you! It's been fun so far to look back.