Sunday, February 16, 2014

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #41

In mid-November, the idea of Trans Iowa was hatched. The year was 2004. In the ten years since then there have been many stories and memories. These posts will tell of the most prominent ones to my mind. Maybe I'll even spill the beans on some things you never knew....

Waiting for the racers to check in for Trans Iowa V7 at the Steakhouse
 So with everything in place and ready to roll, we were set for the Meat-Up once again. It went smoothly with the check in and waivers signed, along with the media releases, (a first at Trans Iowa), and David and I ran the meeting without a hiccup. I introduced Jeff Frings and he had been busy talking with a lot of the racers that evening, many of whom appeared in "300 Miles Of Gravel".

After the meeting we headed down to Bikes To You where the shop was open a little later for an "Oakley Swap Meet" and we had a couple beers before retiring to the motel. I can't really remember anything too exciting beyond that. We did get a record number of starters, (76), and a record number of rookies and women starting for V7, which probably can be attributed to our raising the field limit to 100, and the attrition of that number wasn't as dramatic as it had been in years past. Of course, that record stood for only two years as it was broken in V9.

I won't spend a lot of time on stuff that is covered in the film Jeff Frings made of this event. I recommend checking it out though.

Giving my "fatherly admonitions" before the start of V7
I will only give you all a couple of behind the scenes stories not told on the film, or not really told clearly. This next remembrance is a key event during T.I.v7, and I did write up a bit of this on the blog back then.

It has to do with the "snafu" right out of the gate during the event. David and I were in the Element, and I gave the command to make the next Left, but when we reached it there was a road closed sign! Panic ensued, and we suddenly were on a mission to re-route the event probably 10 miles after the start. Riders would be showing up at any minute!

Complicating matters was the fact that the roads in this section were not gridded out in the usual way, so we were making quick decisions and staking corners as fast as we could go. We'd just get done and we'd see the glow of the rider's lights coming and we'd peel out to the next corner, and so on. Here is where it gets weird.....

We staked out the final corner. Going straight made the riders go into a B Road, but we routed to the left. The stake and flag were next to some higher weeds, and well.......the riders went straight into the B Road! This caused major confusion, time wasted, and riders had to stop to figure out where to go. Later on riders reported the corner was not marked, but David and I clearly remembered marking it. It was what it was, but this part is still a mystery to this day.

Furthermore, I had Steve Fuller drive the route a week ahead of T.I.V7 and the road closed during the event was still open. This whole incident precipitated my running at least 100 miles of Trans Iowa courses the day before the event since then.

Trans Iowa continued to be hard on equipment during V7
So, that put a lot of riders in arrears, and then a big West wind came up and really put the hurt on the riders. Several did not make the checkpoint in Baxter. I felt somewhat responsible for not being on top of that, and the plans were turning in my head as we rolled past Baxter to go on North and East to checkpoint #2. On the way, we rolled through Montour where a house was on fire and the fire department was there trying to douse the flames. It was kind of a surreal scene, as I recall.

The way to Checkpoint #2 was largely course that I had reconned or set into cue sheet draft ahead of the event. There was really not much drama or problem with any of that until we went on past Checkpoint #2 into the evening of the first day of T.I.V7, and on to David's part of the cue sheets. We had another re-route, but I felt okay with it. However, just North of Belle Plaine, there was a mighty confusion where we realized that there were two roads with almost the exact same names running North/South separated by two miles. We even got snookered by that. Then we marked the intersections in question and went into town for a sit down supper at Pizza Hut, as I recall. Anyway, back on course, we found other confusing signs coming out of town that were not well described on the cues. It was very frustrating.

Charlie Farrow hams it up for the camera

Going down the road further into the night, we were both getting tired, and I was internally getting a bit upset by the lack of detail on the cues and was wondering how I would approach that in the future. But eventually we both decided to pack it in and get a bit of rest back at the motel. I don't know if I slept an hour or whatever, but at about 4:00-4:30am, the cell rang and it was my good buddy MG, who was in the race, and he was ticked off about becoming lost several times. The cues were off, and he was lost. I was pretty alarmed by this. Remember, I had already thought things weren't what I would have done, so I was very, very concerned. I suggested to David that we needed to back track the course to find the 20 riders we knew were still in the event.

There were some tense moments on the road when my mind, which had been turned inside out with anger, worry, and trying to read cues backwards, decided to shut down for a bit. I finally got it back together though, and we went onward. We started seeing riders, of course, but we needed to keep chugging along. We did stop and talk with a couple of groups that were gathering up their companions to go to the finish. All were in good spirits and generally had no complaints. That wasn't the case with riders 19 and 20 that we found though. These would end up becoming the only two left out that would not finish that day.

So it was that David and I were not at the finish line to see Dennis Grelk come in. I regretted that, but we were stoked to have Dennis be the champion that year. The rest of the 17 riders came in, and the last was Janna Vavre, our very first women finisher of a Trans Iowa. David and I couldn't have been more proud.

I don't recall exactly how David put it, but he wanted to leave, and seemed rather in a hurry to do so. I needed to ride back with him to get my truck, so I went along despite there being folks at the finish line yet. I don't recall there being a lot of conversation, and David bid me farewell and headed out without a wave or a look back. It was the last time I would see him....

Next- The aftermath of Trans Iowa V7 and the major changes it precipitated.....


MG said...

I remember that call well... In fact, the Lincoln crew recounts (now with a bit of humor) our time spent in the dark, trying to figure out where the hell we were. Fortunately, all in the group except for Bruce & I finished.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my failures in that one, and I'm sorry I let it affect our friendship. Lesson learned...

Love you Brother,

Guitar Ted said...

MG: You know, at the time, I was really bent about how things went down, but now, with the benefit of hindsight, I feel it was a growing point that made our friendship even stronger.

Love you too, Brother!

MG said...

So true...