Sunday, October 03, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: Going The Long Way Around: Part 3

We had used this road the year before, but this wasn't going to work for v13.
 "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! Also, I've been treated to some great Trans Iowa stories and memories from riders recently. I am collecting these to - hopefully - put into a book at the end of this series. If you were a Trans Iowa rider and have any memories that you'd like to share, please do and send those to Maybe your tale will also end up in the Trans Iowa Book Of Tales! 

By late Summer Trans Iowa v13 had been announced, the registration had been detailed somewhat, and the route details were getting ironed out. Recon needed to happen, but with Jeremy's schedule, and with my son being in football, it wasn't going to work out for us to go until October. Jeremy and I made plans to get going and reach Grinnell to start the recon by around 8:00am, after we had filled our bellies with food from the Frontier Cafe. 

Just like with the event, we could not pick our weather for recon. As things turned out, it was a day which rain threatened for the entire time we were out. It never really let loose, but it did mist and it was dark and sullen the entire time. 

This section of Level B Road was almost several people's undoing in T.I.v13

It did not take long for the first check. We had been basically running the T.I.v12 course backward. At about 20 miles in, where I had stopped earlier that April to have a cry and try to get myself together, we found a small bridge out. Actually, calling this a 'bridge' is giving it way too much credit. It was most like a covered culvert, a slab of concrete spanning maybe 30 feet at best. But what that barricaded slab of concrete did was push all my route to Checkpoint #1 into the garbage. There was no going a mile South or North on the grid here. In fact, this was the only East-West crossing of roadway that was unpaved for many miles in either a North or South direction. A simple reroute option did not exist here. 

With that bit of bad luck out of the way we were onward and forward with the knowledge that I would have to reroute the section. Things would end up being completely different in the end as I was forced into redesigning the entire first section of the event.  Fortunately everything else was falling into place until we got near to Adel. The run into town I had envisioned was on a road that dead-ended instead of passing all the way through. This forced us out onto a paved road, and in the end, I had to go with it. 

Then it was onward to the route just South of I-80. I mentioned in the previous post in the series here that a Level B Road option was explored, and at this point this was what I thought we were going to do, so that actually, at the time, looked very promising. However, having to drive around the Level B to see both ends was a big time suck, since I did not want to get the truck stuck. This stopping for reroutes and dead ends was eating up time. Getting the entire route looked at seemed less and less likely as the day rolled on. 

One of the several unplanned for Level B Roads that ended up on the course of Trans Iowa v13

 There were more Level B Roads- some drive-able, some not, and time kept running out. We discovered Level B roads and gravel in unexpected places. It was quite a route, and assuming I could work out a beginning that wasn't too long, the course looked doable. Jeremy and I ended up having to bail out when it started getting too dark to see and we headed back to Waterloo leaving several small chunks of the course unseen and not 100% figured out. This was unsettling for me since Winter could strike at any time and put further recon off until late Winter at the earliest. 

After 488 miles and an entire day I was left with a lot of good stuff, but without a 100% seal of approval from Jeremy and myself, it wasn't going to matter until I had everything buttoned up. That wouldn't happen for some time, so I concentrated on a few other things in the meantime. Winter kind of made sure of that, as what I feared came true. Snow and bitter cold hit Iowa early and any attempts at a recon were going to have to wait until we either got a thaw or until Spring, whichever came first.

 Next: Let's Talk About The Lottery

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