Sunday, June 06, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Wrench In The Works

Exactly one week out from T.I.v12, Wally and George helped verify the course.
 "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 clicking on the "Trans Iowa Stories" link under the blog header. Thanks and enjoy! 

I was getting a bit anxious because here we were two weeks out from Trans Iowa v12 and I did not have any cue sheets! That was because instead of doing final recon in March, as I was hoping to do, Wally and George couldn't make it work until the weekend before T.I.v12. That fact was making my stress levels go up, but this step was, in my opinion, a non-negotiable step, and a must if I were to be relying on my directions for the riders. Plus, I mean, Wally and George were now integral parts of the event. I wanted them there, and we had a friendship that was unique. I enjoyed all of that, so waiting until what I thought of as 'the last minute' was okay. It was worth it to have Wally and George be there and for them to be a part of Trans Iowa. 

Besides, doing recon only a week away from the event would surely insure that all my route would not be in danger of changing. Right? Well, I thought so at the time anyway. So, it was that Wally and George came out and on a sunny, warm day we hit the gravel and saw what was to be the Trans Iowa v12 course. But we also had another mission. It had to do with photography. Wally was scoping out good imagery spots along the course and called for several stops to investigate angles and such. He even would do calculations, aided by George, to figure out what the lighting would be at certain times during the event and everything. Then he and George would bounce ideas off each other, Wally would make a few notes, and we'd drive on.

This made what Wally did really good, and by the time of T.I.v12, he had his image-craft down pat. (Although I know he would disagree, Wally being his own worst critic) He is a talented photographer, and he showed that he really cared and was into Trans Iowa by not only his actions, but in the results of his imagery, which as far as Trans Iowa went, reached its zenith with T.I.v12. 

The packing of the schwag-bags was all handled by volunteers who were excited to be there.

With a very favorable weather pattern forecast for the weekend, excitement for the twelfth Trans Iowa was high. Even the volunteers were giddy and the fact that we were 'getting the band back together' was exciting. Plus, we had a few 'new members' too. Co-workers of mine at the time, Todd Southworth and Andy Tetmeyer were to be Checkpoint #1 volunteers and what's more, Andy was bringing down a vintage Winnebago RV to sleep in Friday evening and he invited some folks to stay with him if need be. My friend Tony McGrane offered to haul a bunch of stuff from Waterloo to the venue which lightened my load considerably. Mike Johnson, formerly a finisher and perennial good rider in the event, turned volunteer and was helping with the set up of the Pre-Race event. Plus he got the final cues printed and paid for the job as part of his 'sponsorship' of the event, which also included those 3D printed key fobs I mentioned earlier. People were excited to help me out, and it was really unbelievable to watch unfold in front of me. 

That made me feel a lot better. Things seemed to be put together really well, and many things I used to have to do on my own were now being lifted off of my shoulders by good friends of mine and of the event. Even silly little things like vinyl tape and stakes were off my 'to-do' list because of people like Mike Baggio who bought those supplies and donated them to Trans Iowa, besides his being a volunteer and for Trans Iowa v12, a surrogate 'support person'. Apparently one guy that was coming was going to be losing his support person and had asked for a replacement via social media. Mike asked if I could excuse him after his CP#1 duties to be that support for this guy, just in case. I of course relieved him of any other duties.This all is just one example of many that showed the community spirit that had arisen around Trans Iowa. 

Volunteers Mike Johnson (L) and MG chat after the Pre-Race Meat-Up for v12.
So, what could go wrong? Well, with hindsight I would say, "Never ask that question!" But on the morning of April 22nd, I got my truck packed up and thought I had this thing in the bag. All we had to do was walk through the pre-event formalities and set this rocket off. I filled the gas tank in the truck and decided to take a highway down that sort of shadowed the course as it came up from the South toward Waterloo. Why I did this, I've no idea other than maybe I was thinking it would be easier to drive the first 100 miles of T.I.v12's course backward to Grinnell, thus saving miles on a day where time was of the essence. Whatever the reason, as I sped along Highway 21, I noted a "Road Closed" sign at the intersection of 21 and Co. D-65. And a thought jumped into my brain right then. "Wonder if that is for that bridge we are using?.....OH CRAP!", I thought, as I hit the brakes and made a quick "U" turn. It didn't take long for me to discover that yes- indeed it was the very bridge we were going to use to get across a feeder creek for Wolf Creek just South of there. 

A week before the bridge was there with no indications that any work was about to take place. One week later? It wasn't just blocked off, it was completely GONE! There was zero chance that any rider could navigate through this. I had to do a reroute and I had to do it right then and there. Out came the maps, I did a bit of recon, and within a half an hour I had identified a way around this bridge which added about 4 miles to the course! 

The silver lining to it all was that I discovered it by happenstance on Friday, not Saturday during the event, so I had the chance to actually announce the reroute at the Pre-Race to everyone there. That said, during the event Tony and Mike, Matt and I, and a couple of others manned the corners to the reroute and made sure everyone got around okay. But on Friday, I didn't know how it would go, and all I knew was that a big wrench had been thrown into the works and we hadn't even started yet! 

Next: A Tale of Two Trans Iowas: Part 1

No comments: