Sunday, November 28, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: Bridges - Part 1

Dennis and Christina Grelk at CP#1 for T.I.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!

The checkpoint was in Baxter, Iowa at the end of the bike trail there where there was a parking lot and an old rail road caboose on display. As Matt and I pulled in I was surprised by the set up that Dennis and Christina Grelk had constructed for their checkpoint duties. Now these were the folks that were on the ball! Myself? Not so much, but by the time we had arrived in Baxter the worst of the hangover had passed. 

The brisk winds and cool air helped to snap me back into the 'real world' and the conversations with the checkpoint volunteers helped take my mind off myself and my condition. Things were found to be well in hand, so all Matt and I really had to do was to see the lead group in and be off on our course checking duties once again. 

Dan Hughes, (foreground) rolling into CP#1 for v13.
The 'usual suspects' arrived soon and looked to be in a serious mode. I suppose that they had the impending weather on their minds, and of course, there was still a long, long way to go yet. One rider stood out of the group though. He was a 'rookie' to Trans Iowa, but calling Dan Hughes a 'rookie' at a gravel race, was pretty much a joke. The man had won the first Dirty Kanza 200 in 2006, and a few more of those afterward. He had been crowned a Gravel Worlds champion, and was well known amongst the early gravel scene riders as being one of 'The Guys' you had to mark if he showed up at the start line. I had him marked. I figured him as one of the main protagonists for v13, and so far, he was proving me right. 

After leaving the checkpoint, Matt and I traversed some familiar roads until we got past Highway 330 and into new roads for Trans Iowa. It was the transfer bit to get to the real business of circumnavigating Des Moines. Due to constraints on mileage, I had to, more or less, find the most direct way to get down to the Northwest edge of the Des Moines metro, not necessarily the most interesting way. I think I did alright with what I had to work with though. 

This sort of 'blah' part of the route would eventually have to cross the Des Moines River, a major waterway in Iowa. Finding a way across would have been pretty difficult but for the existence of the High Trestle Bridge on the converted rail-to-trail bicycle path named after this bridge. The High Trestle Trail runs 25 miles in length, but we would only be using approximately 4 miles of it. One half mile of which was the bridge itself, which is 13 stories above the river. Pretty spectacular, and perhaps this made up for a bit of the boring part of the first part of the v13 course! 

A rider crossing the High Trestle Trail Bridge during T.I.v13 (Image by Keisuke Inoue)

 Just North of the trail we had a bit of a check as we found a corner which needed to be marked. I had intended on the riders taking "Unicorn Avenue" South, but apparently someone decided that this sign was too good to be everyone's and made it their own, since it was missing from its sign post. A quick call in to Tony and Mike to come and mark the corner was made and we rolled onward. This area also was where John and Celeste Mathias sat to observe riders for us and their work really helped that day to keep track of riders movements. 

Along about this time the rain set in as well, and with it, riders started dropping out on a consistent basis. Trans Iowa v13's promise to be 'one of those Trans Iowas' was just kicking into gear now. 

Next: Bridges - Part2

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