Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Triple D Recap

Rolling out...

"Just think, this is the best you're going to feel all day".  Encouraging words from my girlfriend Deb shortly before the start. Thanks, babe.  I brushed off that thought as I toed up to the line.  Yeah, there was going to be suffering, but that's what draws me to these events.  I know I'm in no danger of winning anything so I do them for the personal challenge, to see how much I can take before I break.  The tougher the event, the higher the rate of attrition, the more inclement the weather...  The better the adventure.  And that's what I'm in it for.

So Sunday saw me taking on my latest challenge, the 2011 Triple D.  65 miles of winter goodness on the snowmobile trails of northeast Iowa.  30+ cyclists lined up alongside the Mississippi River in Dubuque, ready to take on the elements. Temps were hovering in low double digits and winds were calm as we rolled out shortly after 10am.  The pace was relaxed as we rolled through the streets of Dubuque and opened up once we hit the snow.  The choppy, choppy snow.  This was the part of the trail that race organizer Lance Andre later called a "lunar landscape".  We bounced around for about a mile before heading through an underpass and squeezing past a small gap in the fence just beyond it  At this point we were on proper snowmobile trails paralleling Arterial road.  We made a couple road crossings and then were weaving up and down hills that required a lot of hike-a-bike for me.  On we rolled past shopping centers, along business parks and through snowy fields (crash #1) until we were spit out on Humke road at about 15 miles in.  We followed Humke to the infamous-if-you-rode-RAGBRAI Potter Hill, where we jumped on the level B road that runs down the back side.

And then...  Crash #2. 

As I was barreling down the level B I caught a rut that left me sprawled out in the snow along the side of the road.  Luckily it was a soft landing so I picked myself up, dusted myself off and grabbed my bike.  As I started off again I saw something I hadn't noticed before...  The photographer.  He told me he got the crash on film, so that pic is definitely gonna be a keeper.

A mile later and I was on the Heritage trail, heading towards Dyersville.  The trail here was packed down and pretty straight, so it got a little dull for a while.  That, coupled with a very slight incline over the next 8 miles ended up wearing me down to the point where I was starting to feel a little beat.  I fired up the ipod and ground it out until I passed Lance on his way back.  He shouted out some words of encouragement that fired me up again (good job, warm pizza and cold beer ahead, etc.) and for the next five miles I was flying and feeling great.

I pulled into the Dyersville checkpoint a little after 2pm, four hours into the race.  Deb was waiting for me with some fresh clothing and snacks.  I grabbed a few slices of pizza, restocked and hung out a little while to warm up.  20 minutes later, I was on my way again.  Back to the grind.

And so it went to Durango.  I stopped a few times to eat or swap gloves, and at one point I got off and walked for about five minutes to warm up my feet.  I pulled into the Durango checkpoint at 7:15 and was off again five minutes later.  I hit the outskirts of Dubuque at around 8, where I met up with another racer who had lost the trail.  We rode together for a bit until we found ourselves in a parking lot with no clear direction of where to go.  We wandered around, were met by a third racer, and then found our way again.  Looking back, I'm glad we were delayed until the third guy got there because he bailed us out of another wrong turn that could have meant a lot of extra riding.

Squeeze past the fence, through the underpass, over the lunar landscape and the three of us were back on the streets of Dubuque.  A few minutes later we pulled into the hotel parking lot and headed up to the official finish line, on the second floor of the Grand Harbor Resort.  After 8 1/2 frigid hours, my first snow race was officially over.  I figured I'd earned a few treats so I helped myself to some pizza, a couple margaritas and a massage.

Miscellaneous race notes:
- Finished in 16th place.  24 people finished in all, including the first female finisher in Triple D history.
- Had problems with my seat that I've had in the past.  The clamp loosened up on me and my seat moved all the way back, putting extra stress on my shoulders and back.  I stopped at around mile 40 to readjust it and it was fine the rest of the way.
- I ran with a studded tire on the front, which probably saved me from a couple crashes.  I was pretty happy with it's performance.
- More than an hour of my time was spent standing still.  I can drop that significantly with better access to food and clothing.
- There was a winter race seminar the night before that I'm glad I caught.  Got me interested in the tougher winter races. 
- Surprisingly, I didn't see any wildlife other than a turkey.  I was expecting to at least see some deer.

Alright, that's it.  I have a new story to tell and another epic race on my resume.  Time to turn my attention to my next adventure...Trans Iowa.

1 comment:

  1. Great write up. That first paragraph so sums it all up.
    TI, wow, you got the spirit. Keep on.