Sunday, November 21, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: Red Eyes And Red Skies

The Trans Iowa v13 start line moments before the start. Image by Matt Gersib.
 "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 night before Trans Iowa v13 is a haze lost to memory. I only know that I stayed in a motel room with Matt Gersib, who did not get any sleep due to my snoring, and that I woke up at 2:20am.  From that point things began to come into focus. Slowly........

I had a major league hangover, and so did Matt. We were pretty intoxicated, most probably, yet at that hour. We just were on the backside of it and feeling plenty of pain. Movements were slow, but we managed to walk out the door to the motel before 3:00am. That's when I had a panic attack because I had absolutely no memory of driving my truck from the Grinnell Steakhouse about three blocks down to the motel and parking my truck, which had everything we needed to put on the event inside of it. After a few manic moments, I saw my truck down on the corner of the building and everything calmed down for a bit. 

The mood down at the start line was somber. Rain, cold, and wind was forecast for later in the day and it was to last all night Saturday and well into Sunday. Riders who showed up were resigned to being subjected to some brutal conditions. It would definitely be one of those 'epic' Trans Iowa events many said that they wanted. Hopefully they felt like they got what they came for! It certainly proved to be one of the - if not the most - difficult Trans Iowa events ever.. 

Riders negotiate the first Level B Road in the course of Trans Iowa v13. Note the red Sunrise.

We actually got the thing started, and at first, it wasn't too bad. We were 'hurtin' fer certain', but carrying on and things went well. With a first Level B road to observe not more than 20 miles into the course we had a bit of time to get out of the car and to breathe in the crisp air of early morning. We waited in the winds and watched as the thin, red line turned into a smear of color on the Eastern horizon. Then we detected the first riders walking up a long grade in the grass alongside a muddy dirt road. 

MG and I stopped for quite a while to battle our demons while we watched the Sunrise.

We decided to hit the road again, heading out on a long Westward stretch taking in about 14 straight miles, MG and I were barely hanging on. I suddenly motioned for Matt to stop. I thought I was about to be sick. My head was reeling and I'm sure my eyes were as red as that early morning sky that day. "Red Sky In The morning - Sailors Take Warning". Change that to "Red Eyes In The Morning..." Ha! 

Matt was about as bad off as I. In fact, he did throw up before the start in the bank parking lot. It was touch and go there for a while, but we pulled it together, climbed back into the Subaru, and gently bounded off toward Baxter, Iowa and our first stop at a checkpoint. 

I don't remember there being much Trans Iowa stuff happening at around this time. No drop outs, really, and the conversation was sparse as MG and I battled our alcohol drenched innards until we had the upper hand. In fact, Trans Iowa was about the furthest thing from my mind at this point. I just wanted to feel better, and soon! Still, it was a bit strange to be not getting any calls in for drops after that nasty Level B Road. 

Eventually the Sun disappeared not to be seen again for the duration of the weekend. No rain yet, but it was coming sooner or later. Meanwhile, things were cooking along fine with the event. Again- a good thing and a testament to the other folks helping me who were far more on the ball that weekend to start out with than I was. I didn't feel guilty at the time, being smack in the middle of recovery, and as things rolled on I began to become immersed in the details of putting on the event, so the Pre-Race and early morning time of T.I.v13 kind of slipped into the background.

That said, it was a big departure for me to just be so careless and not focused on things. The pre-event stress was really affecting me, but I had no clue what was happening to me at the time. For me, it was just a mistake. I had drank too much, that was all. No big deal, right? (Cue sounds of denial) Actually, it was a dire sign and I was oblivious to the message at the time. 

Next: Bridges

1 comment:

MG said...

Oh yeah… That was a rough one. There was quite a ‘sub-plot’ going on at v13. We both were in a similar state of mind, but obviously for different reasons.

We got ‘er done though…