Sunday, March 08, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: Thunder And Lightning : Part 2

The eves of the tail end of the storm meant that V6 was still on.
 "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!

I made a Trans Iowa Radio Post on the overpass of the interstate. Then we got in the car and proceeded to head South. It was about this time that all Hell broke loose. Lightning strikes were hitting within a half a mile of us. These strikes came often, but that wasn't the worst of it. The rain came down in sheets and the wind was wicked.

It was, in a word, bad. So bad we were debating whether or not we should call the event, how we would do that given the circumstances, and if there were any chances we could stop it immediately. It was scary, tense, and stressful. In the end, we determined that the riders were in it. They were responsible for themselves. We could do nothing to save them, or prevent anything from happening. David and I decided that if the storm continued until riders reached Checkpoint #1, we would call off the event there due to poor conditions. And so we went on, very concerned and worried as we made our way slowly South.

Afterward I got a lot of reports of riders hiding in ditches to make themselves lower, so not to become lightning rods. There were never any real calls for our heads though. No condemnation. It was assumed that you either went on or your other option was to bail out. And some did just that right then and there. That said, I didn't like what happened at all, then or now as I write this.

When we said "YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU!" on the Trans Iowa site, we decided we had to live with that. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy. This was the part that I hated the most about Trans Iowa. It's the part that was the hardest. I know some of you are wagging your virtual fingers and thinking, "How could you!", or some other not-so-nice variation thereof. However; it was how the entire event was set up, and it had to mean something. You know what? I found out that it did too. It meant that it sucked to live through that for me, David, and anyone else that cared, but for the competitors, well, you might be surprised at their thoughts.

Thoughts like John Gorilla's in T.I.v4, when we stopped that event, and he was angry and wanted to continue, or Jay Petervary, who argued with David and I later on in the event I am describing here, saying that he and his wife should be allowed to finish. The event participants had their say, and wagged their fingers at us, but very often we had to veto them.

We had a rule which dealt with these situations in place at the time which ended up being important at least two times down the years afterward. That would be Rule #16. It was modified from when it had been put in as another rule after T.I.v2 and the prizing kerfluffle that arose from truncating that event. But anyway.....back to the story.

The Level B that killed the event for half the field before Checkpoint #1. Image by A. Andonopoulous
We saw a ray of hope- literally and figuratively - when the storm began to clear out from the South. David and I were encouraged, and we forgot about the event ending right then and there. However; a Level B road, which saw about 45 minutes of rain at a rate of over an inch an hour, pretty much did end the event. Half of the 57 rider roster never saw the course past Checkpoint #1. 

David and I eventually connected with our Checkpoint #1 volunteers and saw that things were ready for the imminent arrival of the lead group. Things had cleared up pretty well by this point and we felt as though we had dodged a bullet with the weather. While we weren't in the clear just yet, we were hoping that the weather would back off long enough that we could get a majority of the event in at least.

This also marked the first time we did not publish, or even tell anyone, where the checkpoints were at, besides CP#1. We didn't even tell the volunteers where all the checkpoints were to protect them from having to guard secrets. The word was sent out to all of them that if anyone really needed to know where they were, they had to go through us. David, and especially myself, wanted to keep a tight lid on who knew anything and we wanted tight control of any would-be course spectators. This ended up being rather useful in Trans Iowa v6 as we had a specific instance where a certain individual was trying to spectate along the course. This particular man was actually a support person for a T.I.v6 rider, so it was even more important for us to not allow him around the course. This all came to a head after the lead groups made their way past Checkpoint #1.

The first riders appear at Checkpoint 1 with the dark, brooding storm off in the distance.
I think I was off at the convenience store in that town we had the checkpoint at when I got a call from a volunteer that a man was insisting he know where the next checkpoint was at. Not deterred by, or believing that, the volunteers didn't know, he was raising Cain and I told them to have him meet me.

When I caught up with this man, I realized who he was, since he was a local to me road rider. He was supporting Jeremy Fry, who became a friend of mine afterward. Jeremy had strictly told this fellow not to pursue this plan, but obviously, he wasn't having any of that. When I refused repeatedly to give him the location of the next checkpoint, he left in a huff. I figured that was that, but it wasn't. 

The man knew who I was and got a hold of my home phone number. My wife wasn't home at that point and we had a family friend watching my two young children. This man then began to harangue our friend over the phone for not telling him where the checkpoint was, even though she had no way of knowing what was going on. I found out about this post Trans Iowa, and I was pretty upset. Eventually, the message was given, via Jeremy, that he wasn't welcome at any future Trans Iowa events. Oh, and Jeremy was not very happy about it either. 

Although I didn't know it during the event, this became a very worrying thing for a while after the event for me. Could a disgruntled racer, or support person, get so angry that they brought their attack in a personal way, against my family? This was very nearly the case, and let me tell you, I would not want to think what would have become of things if my wife had been the one this guy got a hold of. Because then it would have affected me in the event, and who knows? Trans Iowa may not ever have happened again. But it did, obviously.......

Next: Muddy Ends


Rydn9ers said...

Sorry that happened to the lady watching your children and to you to a lesser extent, people are neat sometimes. Really enjoying these stories, it's nice to read about the early days of the race as someone who didn't even know such things were going on before 2004.

blooddoc23 said...

Gosh, that's psycho!