|(L-R) Jeremy Fry, Mike Johnson, Ron Saul, and GT at the DK200 2010|
When I think about doing the last several Trans Iowa events I think about a few key individuals who were integral parts of every single one of those last Trans Iowa events. Probably the keystone of those few folks is Jeremy Fry. If you've been following this series, you've seen that name pop up a lot already.
Jeremy Fry's friendship with me has been tied up in cycling events I have been a part of for well over a decade now. He has ridden in Trans Iowa, finished it, been in my GTDRI event several times, and has done other gravel events with me as well. But the chief thing I'll always be grateful for is Jeremy's help in doing the recon for T.I.v9-v13. We honed that experience down to the gnat's eyebrows.
The process of recon with Jeremy started out crudely at first. I would start by doing a mock set of cue sheets. Now in the beginning of all this that consisted of scribbled out directions and notes in a spiral bound notebook. Eventually, I actually wrote out those as Trans Iowa style cues so Jeremy could modify the descriptors and make changes as necessary so that when I finally formatted the cues it would be spot on, or nearly so.
We even had the mileages written down and we'd compare what I got off of GPS data on the mapping program with Jeremy's cheesy Garmin cycling computer which would sit on the dashboard of the truck recording the route. Sometimes we had to make changes and sometimes it was so spot-on it was scary. But the whole process became so streamlined that by T.I.v12 it was pretty much a rote exercise. Even where we went for breakfast the morning of a recon was not in question.
|Breakfast first! The Frontier Cafe was the place. |
The Frontier Cafe in downtown Grinnell was the place. I guess I don't recall the first time we went there, but once we did, it was a staple of our recon routine until v14 when Jeremy decided to ride the last one. (I'll get into why that was later)
Once we had that breakfast in us we'd roll out and the fun would begin. And I don't mean that in a sarcastic way either. It was fun. A lot of fun. But first, let me back up a bit and give you the fly-over view of a typical day of recon with Jeremy.
First I would nail down a date that worked for both of us. Then at some ungodly time in the dark, I would pull up under a street light near Jeremy's apartment, and he'd walk down a half a block or so to meet me. He'd have a blue cooler full of bottled water, Diet Coke, cheese, and summer sausage. Then we'd hit the road to Grinnell and breakfast at the Frontier Cafe. Afterward it was a pretty much non-stop drive doing recon, with brief pauses for 'nature breaks' and a convenience store inspection or two. Barring any rerouting nightmares, we'd bag half, or in some cases, all the route, and head home.
In between there was banter, laughter, silent pauses, and stories to be told. Sometimes we'd miss a turn and Jeremy would be right there with a sarcastic comment. Sometimes we both would be glazed-eyed and drowsy, but we always had a great time. You have to if your plan is to spend an entire day bumping along gravel roads with another person. Had we not had fun, it would have been a short run for us two doing recon. Thankfully it was the furthest thing from a bad experience as you could get. In fact, I looked forward to doing that every year. Jeremy probably wouldn't admit to it, he'd rather make some smart-ass comment or two, but I'm pretty sure he was into it as well.
|A view near the end of the day of recon for v12.|
T.I.v12 recon was a bit different though in that the route came up within about three miles of Waterloo. So Jeremy and I decided to start at that point, not the beginning of the course in Grinnell, as we usually did. That way we could end up back in Waterloo, or, you know.....three miles from town. That put off the Frontier Cafe stop for several hours, but we made it work. We actually got the entire 330 plus miles in on one trip, which was a fantastic accomplishment for us. It just made things so much smoother when recon could be put down and I could move on with other facets of Trans Iowa's production.
Looking back at the v12 recon report I have to smile because I had to be so cagey about the route. I didn't want to reveal things about direction, or features that could be identified through Google Earth or what have you. Because people were always trying to figure out what I was up to, I kept details very hidden. In fact, even people that weren't in Trans Iowa made a game of trying to guess where I was taking the route.
That was another thing about Jeremy I always appreciated. His confidence in matters concerning Trans Iowa was immutable. He could always be trusted with the route information and details that I did not want made public. This characteristic of his became very important to me later on. But at the time of his helping with recon, it was a relief to me to know that I could trust him fully with anything concerning Trans Iowa.
Next: Some Interesting Things To Make Note Of