Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Triple D Report: Part III

Welcome back to my next installment of the Triple D Report! You can find parts I & II in the previous two posts to this one.

Department Of Corrections: I made a mistake in my post yesterday. The rider I hooked up with on the Heritage Trail going into Dyersville was not "Don", as I had written originally, but his true name is Craig. My apologies to Craig and the post has been amended to reflect the truth. (Thanks Craig for setting me straight!)

Okay, with that let's set the stage here: I was on my way out of Dyersville and headed to the intersection with Girl Scout Road, where we had originally picked up the Heritage Trail.

Heritage Trail at the Girl Scout Road intersection.
I was promising myself I would not stop for any reason until Girl Scout Road had been reached. This would be about a 10 mile stretch from Dyersville, maybe a bit more. I was starting to feel my right shoulder bothering me. It is a condition I deal with from a couple of old injuries back in my younger days, but essentially my whole upper shoulder on the right side tenses up and aches badly when I ride a long time.

I figured out why it was getting worse too. I had forgotten in my haste to leave Dyersville to take another dose of ibuprofen. Doh! Now I was not going to give in and stop, but it was pretty painful there towards the end. The other creeping need coming into sharper view was hunger. Yes- I was getting really hungry. Hopefully I'd get to stop before I bonked.

And then there was the issue of that guy up ahead with the blinker light on. I wasn't catching him, but having that "carrot" out there kept me on the gas until I stopped at the intersection. Finally! I could get that "Vitamin I" and eat. I was munching away, drinking, and taking a few images. I suspected I would get passed while I was standing there, but no one showed up. I was a bit amazed by this, since I was probably there a good five minutes.

So, I took off onto unknown trail. This was the last third of the event, and I was ready to kill this ride off. My plan was to ride as fast as I could to Graf, wherever that was at, and to not turn on my head light until I absolutely had to. I did flick on my borrowed Planet Bike blinky at this juncture though. (Thanks again, Jerry!)

Well, to my complete surprise, Graf was a mere mile up the road! Okay, so "Plan B"! I decided to try and hit Durango, the next town up the line, before stopping. I hit the pedals and clicked down a gear. I was feeling really good, and strangely enough, the trail was faster.

By-Tor The Titanium Mukluk
Maybe it was just me, but it looked like the trail had been groomed recently here, and the track was a bit crusty from the day's sunshine. Whatever it was, I could rail away at the pedals at will, and seeing the line was not nearly as critical as it was earlier. Good timing too, because the sun light was fading to darkness. Also, the trail pointed slightly downhill from here on out. Bonus!

I finally pulled the trigger on turning on the light, which was nice. The Lezyne Super Drive on low setting was all I needed to see every nuance of the snow on the trail ahead and allowed me to cruise at daytime speeds easily. However; by now I was getting hungry again. And where the "H, E, Double Hockey Sticks" was Durango? I was wondering just how long I was going to be out there, and then I just thought I'd better stop, no matter where Durango was, because I wasn't about to bonk and blow it all. So, I came up on an intersection and stopped to chow down the saltines I snagged back in Dyersville along with some Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate wafers I had stolen from my wife. While I munched away, I saw the tell-tale bluish glow of a cyclists torch coming up the trail.

I'm in orange here at the motel pre-start: (Image credit R. Christensen)
The guy asked if I was okay, and I said I was just stopping to eat. He said, "Well, you could stop at Durango. It's right up the road." Then he rolled off out of sight. Good info, but I wasn't going to stop at Durango now! I was going straight on. I was finishing up my last saltines and chocolate wafer when I saw another bluish glow. I thought, "I'm not going to be that guys carrot!", and I hit it hard out of the blocks to make sure I didn't get caught by this fellow. I also had the idea of catching up to the fellow ahead of me.

Well, I never did see that guys blinky light. It was as if he had turned it off, or he was just motoring after passing me. I don't know, but I did see Durango coming into sight, and what I thought was a blinky light turning right off the trail. When I reached the intersection, the bar where we could stop appeared to be on the left, and nothing of interest was to the right, so I guess maybe I was hallucinating, or the guy just was gone. Either way, I kept hammering in case he was still up ahead.

After awhile, with no sign of a bike ahead or behind me, I let off the gas a bit. I passed a ski hill with all its lights on. A pretty sight. The trail went through some towering limestone cuts and bluffs here. Then I came alongside a road. I could see the glow of Dubuque off to my right and ahead. The end was near! (Or so I thought.)

Awards were handed out, prizes were chosen.
I crossed a road, then I crossed another and came to what looked like a trail head parking lot. I didn't see any markings, but I found a bit more trail out the backside of this area, and found a sign leading me to believe I was on track. Then this spit me out onto a busy road. I looked across the road, wandered around anxiously for a few minutes, thinking I may be caught by a rider any second. My fears rose up inside as I got angry and cursed and yelled. I couldn't find the route!

I knew Lance had said that if we got off route in Dubuque we could just find whatever way back we needed to, so I decided to ride in on the highway I was at. It turned out to be Highway 52, and it was a four lane at this point. Still, I got buzzed by a driver, and that made me all the more angry.

I got to the intersection of 34th and HWY 52 where a sidewalk picked up, and I stopped and drank some fluids while I calmed down and took stock of my predicament. I suddenly realized I could ride up to about 15th, turn left and pick up the route we took out of town, so I hit the sidewalks of Dubuque. I saw children scurrying towards their porches and some of them were saying, "It's the bike cops!". I thought they were mocking me, but come to find out, Dubuque actually does have a bike cop that patrols that area!  I saw some other shifty looking folks and realized it wasn't probably the best part of town, but I was okay, and nearly finished with the event. I found the old factories, the cobblestone street with the trolley tracks, and the Shot Tower. All passed by the group on the way out, so I remembered these from the morning.

Matching Guys! Drew (1st place) and Curtis
So it was that I finally made the right hand turn to go in front of the hotel where the finish line was on the second floor in the meeting room we had the pre-race briefing in.  I walked around the corner and several guys congratulated me, and Mrs. Guitar Ted was there to give me a hug and a kiss. I signed out in what I am pretty sure was a top 25 place at about 6:30pm. (UPDATE: results are in, and I placed 22nd!)

The event was awesome and well run, and despite my getting lost near the end, I had a good time.  The way the event went off was smooth and again- with three different disciplines racing from three different start points, it was hard to imagine how Lance and the crew pulled it off, but they did. Kudos to all who had anything to do with the Triple D.

When asked, Lance told me he thought this Triple D fell in about the middle as far as the difficulty of the course and conditions. That made me feel pretty good about my efforts, and actually, come to think of it, I would say it was an unqualified success for me. I had been seriously ill only a month away from the event, and training in December leading up to Triple D was meager at best. In fact, my longest ride before Triple D was probably only 20 miles, so I didn't feel very confident about pulling off a 65 miler coming into this. That said, while I was riding after the technical stuff, I felt fantastic, and never was thinking I wouldn't finish.

The last place guy came in after almost 13hrs!
My equipment held up fantastically. The bike was spot on, shifting was great, the tires, albeit on the skinny side for some of the deeper, wallowy stuff, worked great when the trail was clearer. Pressure was set around 7psi, and that seemed to be perfect.

Going into the event, I didn't quite know what to expect, so I probably can be accused of over-packing. I wouldn't change a thing about what I did not knowing what I know. However; knowing what I know, I would modify what I brought quite a bit. Much of the gear I brought clothing-wise could have been left out. I brought way too much nutritional stuff as well. I figure I probably could have cut my load weight in half easily, but that's okay. Like I said, I wasn't hip, but now I know better.

Finally, I have to mention the fella that came in the front door of the motel at 11:30pm as we were about to leave for a bar. He was the last place finisher of Triple D, he had a smile on his face a mile wide, and he was loving the reception we were giving him in recognition of his efforts. Ben Wit told me he hadn't ridden a bike until he was 60 years of age, then decided to become a cyclist. He attended all three of Ben's fall gravel tours and always finished. What a great testament to a good attitude and perseverance.

Once again, many, many thanks to all involved in Triple D. I loved the event, and would highly recommend it to anyone with a mind to try a wintertime adventure. Well worth the trip! Thanks for reading!



Matt Maxwell said...

The guy you rode with may not be 'Don' but the last place guy is Don "Gear Nazi" Clark of Arrowhead 135 fame. Best to be nice if you want your gear to pass inspection.

Alex said...

From the sounds of it, you were on my ass all day (I sounds like I was only 1-2 miles ahead the whole time).

And likewise, I found myself lost and confused when the trail spit us out onto 52. I took the highway all the way into 5th st (stopping for a five hour energy on 32nd st) - singing as loud as I possibly could. Those last couple miles felt really nice!

Nice write up!