Sunday, October 11, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: The V9 Barn Finish Line

The Barn as seen from the North. Image by Paul LaCava from T.I.v9
 "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!

 Probably one of the more unique things about a couple of the Trans Iowa events was the finish line set up at what I dubbed as "The Barn". This feature of the event was suggested to me as something we should add by Rob Versteegh. Rob had relatives on his wife's side who owned the property where "The Barn" was at. Rob suggested to me that when we brought the event to Grinnell for v6 that it might be a cool feature for Trans Iowa. 

At that time, David and I agreed. The thought was to have this also be "event central' where communications would be emanating from and parties would be happening all night long. We had visions of having Trans Iowa Radio broadcasts happening at The Barn. Essentially, we had some pretty big possibilities which could be implemented and made to enhance the experience for all. 

Grand plans, eh? But as we all know, even the best laid plans can come to naught. T.I.v6 was truncated due to severe weather, so we never made it all the way to finish at The Barn. We did have a makeshift gathering there though, as I have told already. Then there was v7 where......? I can only surmise that I fumbled the ball there and didn't get The Barn deal sewn up in time to have it be a part of the event. When the film, "300 Miles of Gravel" debuted at T.I.v8, it was supposed to have happened at "The Barn", but as Trans Iowa v8 weekend was Easter weekend, the plans had to be nixed as the family that owned the place could not allow us to be out there on Easter weekend. So, when v9 rolled around, Rob insisted we get this plan in gear and his belief that The Barn could be a really cool part of Trans Iowa finally became a reality. 

Three missed attempts at having The Barn be a part of Trans Iowa did not damp my enthusiasm for this either. Between Rob and I, we were excited to bring this part of Trans Iowa to life, and honestly, it was pretty cool. While I did not have the horsepower or the inclination to have The Barn become a huge part of Trans Iowa's functions, during the running of v9's finish line activities it became apparent that this venue had a certain charm to it which was appreciated by many folks. Much of this was just circumstantial. It was due, in part, to the venue's layout and proximity to Grinnell.

The Barn was situated just North of I-80 about three miles West of the main drag where the motels were situated in Grinnell. This made it so that finishers could be taken back for showers, rest, and to prepare to go home, easily and without much fuss. It was close to town, but it had a very rural feeling. The building we used, the actual barn, was a restored barn which had modern electrical outlets, a smooth cement floor, and clean interior. It did not have toilets, which was a bit of a bummer. But it was a very typical looking barn. There was no outward feature that would recommend anyone to taking a second glance at the place, and somehow, that was perfect for Trans Iowa. 

Wally Kilburg's image of The Barn from the Sunday morning of T.I.v9

 The building was also about an eighth of a mile up a two-track 'road'- more like a driveway, although at one time this was an actual road on the grid before I-80 forced it to be truncated just South of The Barn. So, it was marked as a Level B Road. A perfect ending to a Trans Iowa. I parked at a point pretty much straight across from the front of The Barn and ran the finish line there. Of course, being out in the country, alcoholic beverages were no problem. Parking wasn't an issue, and people were free to do pretty much what they needed to do out there and that all worked out fine. This all lent to the vibe of the v9 finish and I think this and v10's finish line experiences were right at the top from my viewpoint for everyone involved. 

Folks hanging out at The Barn at the finish of T.I.v10

The Barn wasn't a perfect finish line, not by any stretch. The lack of toilet facilities notwithstanding, there was the limited access by gravel to the place. Essentially, only two approaches were possible, and while this was not a huge deal, it wasn't going to take long for potential spectating and, maybe, cheating issues, to start occurring had I continued to use the same two approaches over and over again.  

Then there was the fact that Grinnell was 'hosting' Trans Iowa, and yet we weren't finishing the event there. This seemed incongruent to me. The city had rolled out the red carpet for us and done far beyond what I had ever hoped or dreamed of for me and Trans Iowa. Trans Iowa won the Grinnell Tourism Award, fer cryin' out loud! Somehow I knew that finishing out there, with nothing to do with the town, seemed, well......not quite right.

 But the memories and scenes of The Barn finishes were excellent and I savor those moments from time to time yet today. It was the finishes at The Barn, both in v9 and v10, that I thought were the most compelling from an emotional standpoint. Iconic Trans Iowa images were taken there which will forever be some of the main memories for many folks. I've added a couple to this post from v9 and one from v10 which I thought were standouts. I'll do another post like this for v10 separately, so hang on for that. 

It is a shame that only two Trans Iowas ever finished out there. I suppose that makes those two T.I's more special, since they were two outliers of the series. T.I.v11 had the possibility of a Barn finish early on, but family issues made this possibility seem rather tenuous at best. Rather than count on something that may fall through, I decided to move the finish back to Grinnell. The feared family issues then did cause The Barn to be taken off the table as a possibility from that point on as a finish line, so despite T.I.v11 being truncated, we wouldn't have been able to use The Barn again anyway. 

Next: I explore why I am ambivalent about Trans Iowa v9.

1 comment:

S.Fuller said...

Since both of my finishes occurred at the barn, I'm biased. but it's definitely a special place for me. I also have good memories of many of my other friends finishing there too. I always give a sideways glance and a smile whenever we pass by it on I-80.