One of my all time favorite Trans Iowa stories has to do with a bit of subterfuge and daring on the part of a woman by the name of Tara Brick. I cannot recall how many times I've shared this story about Tara and T.I.v5 orally, but I haven't ever fleshed out all the details on the blog here before, so check this out....
I had a fellow, who at the time of T.I.v5 ran a bike shop in Mason City, Iowa, by the name of Robin Bennett, get into T.I.v5. Along about two months prior to Trans Iowa that year, Robin e-mails me. I figured he was dropping out, but no- he was lobbying me to let in some really great woman cyclist, supposedly great at triathlon, into T.I.v5. Well, that was a hard pass from me. Once registration closed, that was it. I told Robin she should "try next year to get in the proper way". Besides, if I let Tara in, I'd have to let others in that petitioned me as well. Nope! But not to be denied, Robin emailed me at least two more times on her behalf, with similar responses from me each time.
Finally, about two weeks out from Trans Iowa, I get an email from Tara herself, pleading with me to let her in. Okay, by this time the whole ramping up to another Trans Iowa was happening for me, plus I was on the eve of leaving for Sea Otter. I may not have been too kind in my response, I don't remember that, but I do remember being very annoyed by this entire situation, and I was making asides to this in posts on the Trans Iowa site. I should say, I never outed Tara at anytime, but I wasn't sure I could contain my annoyance much longer. Thankfully, she left me alone, and I went on with my life.
After David Pals pulled off the miraculous when he found a spot to hold the pre-race meeting on that May 1st day, (yes- the only Trans Iowa not run in April), I was a LOT more laid back. Everything seemed to be coming together well. We had awesome volunteers, Mark Pals, David's brother, and Daryl Pals, his father, were amongst them. Even Dave Nice, "Fixie Dave", had come out early and lent a hand in stuffing bags again, just like he did for T.I.v2. I was about as relaxed and loose before a Trans Iowa as I ever was before or after.
So, we get to the Pre-Race and I am reading off the rider's names, in the traditional fashion, as they picked up their race bags, (paper that year from World of Bikes- thank you very much!), and I am noticing that it seemed we were having a full roster. No "no-shows", and I was feeling great about that. Well, I am getting on to the back third of names to be called when I call out for a guy, and nothing. Hmm, I call again.....people look around, but nothing. I call one last time. Just before I am about to move on, a young lady jumps up and says, "He told me I could take his spot!"
Taken aback by this outburst, I ask her to repeat herself. She does. I stare at her and a sudden random thought came into my mind just then. I thought, "Okay....... Let's see what she's got!", and I slowly lifted up the paper bag. She looked down at it, took it from my hand, and I asked her to leave her name with David so we could get it on the roster. Of course, it was Tara. There were plenty of amazed looks by those left in the room, but I was not deterred. David asked me about it afterward, surprised by the turn of events. I explained the situation to him and he seemed pleased. Yes.....let's see what she's made of then!
|A grainy shot of "The Dirty Blue Box" and the T.I.v5 trophy made by David Pals at the start of T.I.v5|
He related to me how he and his friend, Katy, also a volunteer, had headed out for a gravel ride around Williamsburg toward the West after their duties were over at the checkpoint. Then they spotted another cyclist in the distance. Seeing a lone cyclist, they decided to head on in that direction to see what was up. As they approached, Cale told me they could see a number plate, and that the person looked like a Trans Iowa competitor. Seeing that this wasn't anywhere near the course, they became concerned. Was this a racer that was bailing due to injury, were they wandering around, trying to get their way back to Williamsburg?
Well, it turned out to be Tara. Somehow or another she had gotten turned around off course, found a road with a similar name to what she saw on the cues, (it is not uncommon for adjacent counties to use similar, or even identical names/numbers to mark roads), and she was trying to make sense out of cues which didn't make any sense. Cale then used his iPhone with Google Maps, (new at that point in history) and figured out she was 70 miles off course and had no hope of making it back on course in time to make CP#2 before the cut-off. They pointed her off in the direction of Williamsburg, and that was another DNF to add to our list of ever-increasing DNF's on that day.
David and I had a bit of a chuckle after that. But credit Tara, who could have easily never come back to another T.I. She showed up for T.I.v7, and put in a solid ride, but eventually missed a checkpoint cut-off and did not finish.
That was another "one-off" which characterized this particular Trans Iowa. Something so odd, and notable, and which the likes of were to never happen again in Trans Iowa's history.
Next: Three Quick Tales About V5