The event pre-race was held right in our hotel, which made it nice. Waivers signed, race packet picked up, and then some socializing with the racers that were hanging out there.
I found out from event organzer, Lance Andre, that there were about 70-ish bicyclists signed up to ride, so it was a fairly large field. Conditions were much improved from the recent snow, which laid down a layer that covered almost everything.
The course had no snow whatsoever before the snow Dubuque got a few days before the race, so this would have to do for us all. Word was that there was plenty enough of the white stuff out there to make things good. The consistency of the snow was rather sand-like. Fine sand-like. In fact, high winds had drifted it all on the leeward sides of hills and fences in open territory.
|We went out to eat after the pre-race.|
Of course, my choice in bike was By-Tor The Titanium Mukluk. It was lighter, but not geared as low as the Snow Dog. The other thing was the tires. I was a bit anxious about using 3.8" Larrys after seeing the shifty, loose condition of the snow, but I was stuck with what I had brought.
Speaking of what was brought: Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles and his mechanic, Curtis, had brought a Fandango 29"er tandem with a fat front and Rohloff drivetrain. I got to ride it and it was a blast in the snow the way it was. Ben and I were plowing right through foot deep snow on it. Unfortunately, I did not get any pics of this rig! (Too busy riding it!)
I did go down with Ben on it though! We were gabbing about how great it was handling the snow while Ben had steered us into an adjacent parking lot. As he made a giant, lazy circle, the back of the bike suddenly started coming around, and the tandem was in a big power-slide. The bike went down slowly, and I ended up landing on my left shin and knee. We had hit some wet, black ice, and it took us down! No harm done though, and all was laughed off.
We hit up the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and then got suited up for the day's riding. I had decided to run my messenger bag. I know- not what most would advise or think was a good strategy. The thing is, I ride a lot commuting on my fat bikes with a messenger bag. I do after work rides with one on a lot. It never is an issue for me, and of course, a messenger bag can carry a lot of gear. So, while I would normally agree that carrying a messenger bag for most folks on an endurance ride is a stupid idea, I thought it would make my ride feel "normal", since I ride with one so much.
I put my extra dry clothing in there, along with a couple water bottles, and a pump. It wasn't too heavy, but it wasn't all that light either! My bike had the Tangle Bag with a spare Surly tube, food, repair kit, a balaclava, and a ton of gels.
The bike also had Planet Bike's Snack Shack on it with all my drink mixes and some more food in it. I did not take the old, red seat pack on this adventure. The bike also had two water bottles mounted on the Enabler fork.
|Not every bike here is "fat"!|
We were all signed up and informed about the course by Lance Andre previous to taking off. I have to say that was the most detailed pre-race meeting, (full of visuals, a walk through of the maps, and a description of course difficulties), that I have ever witnessed. It all came in mighty handy while I was out there riding, and I could gauge my progress really well just from Lance's excellent course commentary.
In fact, the event, with its three different disciplines going off simultaneously in different places, was so well organized that when you consider the complexities involved, it is rather amazing. Kudos to Lance Andre and his crew along with the volunteers. Job well done folks!
And with the instructions given, we all were told to go and line up near the Dubuque Star Brewery building, which we did. The next report will deal with the event proper and how I fared throughout the day. Stay tuned.....