Sunday, December 01, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Endurance Promoting Part 2

Using County road signs to direct T.I. About as subversive as it gets from an RD's standpoint!
 "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 time we left off at the T.I.v4 checkpoint. This was the point in the event where it went from "typical T.I. RD activity" to "emergency management mode". It was one thing after another from this point on, with the exception of CP#2 which was a bit of an oasis of calm for David and myself.

There was the well told story of the landslide, the huge amount of miles, (for a re-route) we had to navigate on the fly, and the tracking of the few riders left in the event who were scattered across three counties at one point.

I guess the part I haven't talked about much was the point after CP#2, in the dark of night, when we came upon the biggest frost boils I have ever seen on any road since. This particular stretch of road had heaves so large and high that the road had been closed to traffic. We were walking around them to see if a cyclist could make their way. It turned out that it was possible, but these heaves were like ski moguls. Four feet high, maybe ten to twelve feet across in some instances, with smaller ones everywhere else. As if that wasn't enough.....

There was a fallen tree across the road at one point. It had just occurred probably within the previous 24 hours. The tree had leaves on its branches and was live yet. We almost gave up at this juncture, since the roadway was blocked. I decided to wade in and break off branches, to see if I could clear away enough room to allow a cyclist to pass without going into the deep ditch that was there. As I toiled away, David went on to check on things further up the road. Then it suddenly occurred to me......

I was alone, it was pitch black, and I had no means to get anywhere except by foot, and I wasn't exactly sure where I was, because I had no map, cues, or a cell phone with me. Hmm..... "I hope David comes back....", I remember thinking. And he was gone for what seemed like an hour. I had actually cleared away about four feet of the roadway so it was obviously passable to any rider approaching this. Keep in mind I was doing this with my bare hands. I had no tools, and the wood was green. That took some time and a ton of effort, and here David was no where to be found.

Of course, David eventually did come back, and we muddled our way to that now infamous washout North of Edgewood. There we decided to truncate T.I.v4. It was just far too crazy and things were getting weirder and more dangerous as we went. Besides, by this time we knew there were only five guys left.

Last man in: Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey speaking with Skip Cronin (L) after he finished T.I.v4
I guess my favorite part of T.I.v4 came toward the end. We had been sitting in Edgewood, Iowa for hours. By this time we had four finishers. Corey, "Cornbread" Godfrey, one of the RD's for Gravel Worlds to this day, was the last person on course. Charles Parsons had come in well over an hour earlier and David and I were pretty concerned about Cornbread. The Lincoln Crew folk had warned us that Corey was apt to getting lost, so he might be muddling along on some forlorn gravel road, off course, for all they knew. Now, they didn't seem all that concerned about it, as after the hoopla had died down upon their arrival, they all went back to their van and went to sleep, seemingly. David and I were left alone, pacing the cold, dark streets of Edgewood Iowa at three o'clock in the morning.

It was David who finally got to the breaking point. He turned, looked at me with a serious face, and said, "Let's go!". No explanation necessary. We were on a mission to find Cornbread. We backtracked the route, and about five miles or so away we came across him. A lone, bluish-white LED lamp was a dead giveaway for a cyclist on a gravel road in the middle of the night. Cornbread was aware of the situation up the road, about the truncated course, because he had been alerted to this development at CP#2. He refused a ride in, so we did the next best thing. We escorted him into town. This was when I got a "wild hair" and decided to do something fun.

Remembering the fanfare that Team Polska had given to every returning rider the year before, I decided to turn on the four-way flashers on the car, flick the brights on and off, and beep the horn as we rolled into the right hand corner onto the street we set the finish line up on in Edgewood. It was a risky maneuver, but I figured the Lincoln Crew would rally upon hearing the fanfare and be out to greet their long-lost brother. They did and they were. Mission accomplished!

That was quite an exhausting affair, running ahead of the riders, literally fighting through things to get the event as far down the road as we did. I remember being glad that we had decided not to push the event out on to paved roads on a Saturday evening, risking drunk drivers and possibly getting folks more lost. Our endurance was taxed, but I was so glad I had a co-director to share the load and the experiences with that weekend.

Next: We take a break from the serially told Trans Iowa Stories to take a look at things like the mythical "Triple Crown", how Trans Iowa influenced the early gravel scene, and how series in Minnesota and a new event in Nebraska called "Gravel Worlds" were signposts of big changes to come, and how that affected Trans Iowa.

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