Saturday, April 29, 2023

Tis The Season

From the 1st day of Trans Iowa v10
 Once again, the ol' Facebook machine has been pumping memories back into the timelines of several folks concerning Trans Iowa, and obviously I get a lot of that as well. The last week of April will always be "that time" for me as long as I'm able to remember. 

It won't always be social media, and it hasn't been that, which will, and does remind me of those times. It is the way the Sun hits, the sounds of Robins and Cardinals in the trees, and the crisp evening air that brings me right back to those days when I was bounding around Iowa in an old beat up Honda, or a Volkswagon, or maybe a Subaru. Sometimes by myself. Other times with cherished friends. Of course, I still have that old Toyota truck, so I get reminded of Trans Iowa every time I sit in that thing. But it is really the season, this time of year, that gets me nostalgic, and maybe even a bit misty-eyed when those old memories come back to haunt me. 

The weather too. Wind, rain, wild temperature swings, and maybe even a whiff of snow. (Remembering the start of Trans Iowa v4 in Decorah there.) Sometimes I think about what the weather was at certain junctures of Trans Iowa. We rode some storms out! We had some beautiful weather as well. Springtime in Iowa. What can I say? 

Somewhere North of Mason City, Iowa during the night of Trans Iowa v1

Personally I experience a lot of emotions when I think about the hours and hours that I spent alone in the country, especially at night, over the course of Trans Iowa's run. No one knows about those times, and probably no one else really cares, but for me? Those were some very memorable times. 

I remember how hard those times were to get through. I remember being really "alone", cut-off from the world, and wondering what the heck I was doing out there anyway. I had a lot of time to think things through. It was good. It was not fun at times, but it was good. 

Matt Gersib serenading me on his ukulele during Trans Iowa v12 near Melbourne, Iowa.

 But there were awesome times spent with companions during the nights on certain Trans Iowa events. David Pals was invaluable as a companion on some of those long, cold nights. Matt Gersib too. He was a life-saver, and I shared my last Trans Iowa overnight with him, which will always be one of my chief memories of doing that event. We saw the good and the bad and we still get along with each other through it all. Gotta say that means a lot to me. These are the things that get to me when I start remembering things at this time of the year. 

From T.I.v8. Image taker unknown.

Then I think about all the mini-chaotic situations we probably caused over the course of 14 years. Mainly at convenience stores. Riders would come in at all-hours, muddy, dirty, sweaty, with weird clothing on, and looking half-dead. Wandering aisles for who-knows-what grub to fuel the next one hundred miles. On gravel? What?!! Yeah.... I missed most of that, but I've heard the stories. 

And of course, the people and their love for Trans Iowa mean a lot as well.

 I did hear a lot about what the riders thought about the ol' event. I have to admit that it is amazing to me that the love shown the event, and to me, has been amazing. It still is amazing to me. Of course, I appreciate it greatly, and this time of year brings that back to mind again as well. 

A comment on Trans Iowa and its influence sent to me in 2020

What's weird is - at least it seems weird to me - is how Trans Iowa still inspires people to this day. People that weren't ever in the event even. They sometimes get a hold of me just to say that T.I. did something to them that inspired. It's uncanny to me that some weirdo event on gravel in Iowa that I was a part of did anything inspirational after it was over. I mean, I figured it would get forgotten almost immediately. 

And when that happened, well I would just as well have been a ghost as well. But nothing could have been further from the truth, even though I was at peace with fading away, people aren't letting that happen. 

The whole Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame deal now has pretty much ensured that I am remembered by at least a few folks, so I may as well give up the idea that I was going to become "just another guy" in this life of gravel riding. Ha! And that's fine with me. It's nothing I can do anything about anyway. Not that I would, know! 

A tribute to Bill Pontious, who was a Trans Iowa rider that died unexpectedly in 2014.

 I cannot live through the last week of April anymore without thinking of those who were part of Trans Iowa that are no longer with us. I feel privileged  to have met these folks via Trans Iowa, honored that they chose to ride in my event, and sorry that they lost their lives too soon. Bill Pontious, Paul Black, Joel Dyke, Kyle Platts, and Joe Mann - Thank you and God Speed! 

So yeah.... This week! Almost all the Trans Iowa events, save for T.I.v5 which was held the first weekend in May that year, are packed into this last week of April. That's a lot of memories coming home to roost at this point for me. It can be overwhelming. Almost to the point that I want to shut it all out. But that would be an unproductive attempt at blocking out things that, really, should be celebrated and considered. 

So, forgive me this one post to help me tie a bow on this last week of April. I needed to write this probably more than anyone out there needed to read it, so thank you! 

I hope you all have a great weekend!

1 comment:

MG said...

Those are some of the best memories…