Sunday, January 26, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: More Quick Tales From v5

Jeremy Fry, who finished v5, at the Traer checkpoint. Image by Paul Buchanan
"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 Traer Checkpoint was the sight of more than just Charlie Farrow's amazing comeback from the dead. It was also the scene where much of the character and grit of many of the finishers was shown. Riders like Jeremy Fry, who made it there and ended up finishing his first attempt at Trans Iowa. Jeremy nearly had to be carried off at the finish, he was so spent. Others didn't fare so well. Riders like Corey, "Cornbread" Godfrey, one of the five who made the truncated finish of T.I.v4, had to "pull the plug", as we used to say, at CP#3.

All of this was stuff David and I would have missed had it not been for Paul Buchanan who hung around and snapped off several shots and told the stories to us later. Paul also related how that the convenience store had closed up before many riders got there. Some were able to resupply at a local bar, but we got the message. It was going to be tough going forward to route the course to find 24hr stores, or to time the route such that riders would be through before closing or arrive after opening times.

Like I said before, this was a Trans Iowa of "one-offs", and one of those was a planned overnight sleeping period for David and I. See, the course went very near to where David lived in Marengo, only about 12 miles away to the West, so after we had made it through the "last town out" on the route, and had checked out some convenience stores, we headed over to his home to catch a few "z's", but this plan ended up being foiled by a few phone calls.

Cornbread ended his v5 ride in Traer. Image by Paul Buchanan

I had just settled into the bed when my phone lit up. I had to leave it on, of course, in case something like a DNF got called in, or if there were issues beyond that. Well, I answered expecting to hear a rider telling me they were done, but it wasn't a rider. It was a rider's wife, wondering where her man was, because I hadn't said his name on "Trans Iowa Radio". Gah! After doing a bit of explaining and "hand holding", I got her off the phone and tried to calm down and get some shut-eye. Then the phone rang again.

This time it was a rider. Only it wasn't a DNF. It was the slow, steady, sonorous voice of Joe Meiser, one of the leaders in the event. He had a question about the cue sheets, because he was confused. This was always a delicate issue from my standpoint. I knew the route, of course, but I couldn't tell them where to go either. They had to figure it out. Once I had Joe confirm he had the correct cues, I had to tell him that he may have missed a corner, but that they were going to have to look themselves. Joe then kind of had a light bulb moment, I think, because he seemed satisfied that he understood what to do, and then I was back to trying to get some shut eye, only I couldn't.

It didn't matter because not long after Joe's call it was the checkpoint #3 guys calling in at 2:22am in the morning to report their findings. The only memorable thing I found out there was that Charlie Farrow had made it through the checkpoint. Then David got up, and well, we just decided we needed to go. David managed a complete hour of shut-eye. Me? I don't think I caught three winks. The whole "sleeping" plan was a big fail!

So, David and I high-tailed it over to Williamsburg, and the ending of T.I.v5. Now, this was in David's part of the recon. I actually had not seen the finish line until that night. Well........morning, that is! Anyway, it was at the end of a little dirt road section coming into a North end residential area of Williamsburg. We arbitrarily made a mailbox at the end of someone's driveway the "finish line"! It was still dark, because we were thinking the leaders may show up around 4:00am, or shortly after, at the speeds that Meiser, Ek, and Pramann were going.

From L-R: David Pals, Ken Yokanovich, (a volunteer), Meiser, Pramann, and Ek- Image by P. Buchanan
Well, we hadn't figured in the extra time on their missed turn, and they lost about an hour, they figured. Meiser ended up powering in at right at 25 hours with Ek and Pramann hand in hand for second. A gentleman's agreement to allow Meiser the win was struck up because he had pulled the group most of the night.

Anyway, that whole deal with the finishers and immediately afterward is somewhat of a haze to me. I was really out of sorts for a while there in the morning, and there were things that happened I cannot recall. I kind of remember being freaked out about possibly waking up residents and a few shadowy memories of the first few riders coming in, but my memories don't really pick up until later in the morning when I must have gotten my second wind. Things were pretty clear from around 10:00am onward.

I regret not remembering the finish of Meiser, Ek, and Pramann well because it was a really special one. The story goes that the three were trading compliments, memories of the ride, and the bond those three had formed was palpable in the air, so they say. There were maybe some tears shed, and soft clapping, and had to be there. I was, but I was so fatigued and beyond delirious at that point with lack of sleep that my experience of that moment has been lost. The price I paid to put on the event at times was like that, I guess.

Next Week: The Finish Line Agreement

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