Sunday, July 11, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Tale Of Two Trans Iowas - Part 4

MG and I come across riders taking a short break after CP#2 during T.I.v12.
  "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! 

After Checkpoint #1 MG and I got a move on and the course took us to the point where I traditionally would cross the Iowa River. This was near Belle Plaine, Iowa and directly West of Marengo, Iowa. I used a well built steel railed bridge which was built high enough to clear flooding and was connected by gravel roads. Besides that choice, I would have had to have gone tens of miles out of the way to cross at Marengo, use miles of busy paved roads, and compromise on my sensibilities for course design quite a bit. So, this bridge was featured in several Trans Iowas. 

Before we reached this bridge I got a call from Tony and Mike, volunteers who were in another vehicle and were running interference for us, marking corners when necessary. It turned out that they weren't very far ahead of us at this point. MG and I were hoping to cross their path at some point so we could get out and chat a bit. Since Tony and Mike also had cue sheet sets, we could coordinate our efforts in that way. 

Tony surveying the situation with his truck which was stuck in a Lavel B Maintenance road.

As MG and I were driving up onto a ridge, I noted Tony's truck off on a Level B Maintenance Road to my right. I shouted for MG to stop, and initially I was thinking we were just going to have a quick meet-up, but why did Tony drive up this awful road?  The road bed was saturated with water, the mud was runny and deep, and Tony's truck was spinning its tires as we got out of MG's vehicle. Oh no! Another crisis! Now we had to deal with a stuck vehicle?! I was floored, but I was also concerned for Tony. 

By the time I had gingerly approached his vehicle without getting mired into the mud myself, Tony was out and assessing his situation. I asked him several times what I could do to help, but he was so deep in thought it was as if he had gone deaf. He was concentrating, and then he stiffened up, moved quickly to his driver's door, and suddenly jumped into his truck. What?.......

I started to move back as I was well within mud-slinging range. I heard a 'clunk', the engine growled, the suspension kind of settled down, and then with a mighty roar, the entire truck jumped upwards out of the mud, leapt forward, and began to move up the hill of mire! Mud was slinging everywhere. It was quite a sight. MG and I cheered and yelled encouragements as Tony's truck bounded up the hill, crested the top, and disappeared. 

Wow! That was amazing! MG and I stood for a bit astounded and then we clambered back into the Subie and headed off to see what we could find of riders and if the cues were making sense. Meanwhile I'm getting updates on the injured rider from Mike Baggio, dealing with the fallout from the volunteer fire department debacle, taking calls from riders, and checking in on Tony to see what the deal was all about there.

Another view of riders in Tama County during T.I.v12 by Celeste Mathias.

Not long after this I received a text message from Andy Tetmeyer, who was my co-worker at the bike shop at that time and who had been my Checkpoint #1 volunteer. He was the one who had brought that vintage RV to sleep in the night before T.I.v12. Well, his wife had a medical emergency and he had to get home as as soon as possible. I was counting on Andy being there at the finish line as a volunteer, but I had to let him off the hook, obviously. I did have one other volunteer lined up to help out at the finish line, fortunately. So, I was still okay on volunteers, but this stressful news was just another straw on the camel's back. 

From here it was a cruise to get to the point where we had the reroute to set up. We were to finally rendezvous with Tony and Mike as they were marking the corners. There in Northern Tama County on a hilltop we found out what had happened back at the muddy Level B road. At the point just before Tony made the right turn Mike was giving him navigation cues. Well, the road they were to turn on in reality had a very similar name to the one they took, which was not the road they should have been on. A minor difference in the road name was the issue, and it almost caused us all big trouble! But Tony realized his Ford F-150 4X4 had locking differentials, and when he stiffened up and jumped back in his truck, that was the moment he remembered this. 

Whew! I am sure glad he remembered that! One less problem on a day that, so far, had been fraught with issues on my end. We were adamant that the reroute not be another stone on my pile, and so we stationed folks at important points to make sure the riders got the message that this was where the reroute I mentioned was at. Fortunately, with that effort we avoided any problems and everyone made it around there and all the riders were able to continue that were still in the event.

With that hurdle passed it became very apparent that the field was making great time on course. Like, really great time! I was a bit alarmed, but considering that this section of the route went - more or less- straight North and that the winds were straight out of the South, it began to make sense. Tailwinds for about 100 miles will do that. So, I was a bit concerned that my volunteers at Checkpoint #2- N.Y. Roll, Jeremy Fry, and Robert Fry, would be caught off-guard and not be set up before the riders appeared at the end of Petrie Road where I had designated Checkpoint #2 to be at. I texted Jeremy and N.Y. Roll to alert them of the rider's fast progress towards the checkpoint and in the end, they were ready to go well before anyone showed up. But we almost didn't get to set up where I had intended......

Next: Part 5 of "A Tale Of Two Trans Iowas"

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