Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Triple D 2014: Race Report Part 2

Ready for Triple D, but was I?

As I said, my family and I all traveled to Dubuque where we spent Saturday at the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. I was duly impressed with several things I saw there, but I won't go into that only to say it is well worth a visit if ever you get there.

Saturday afternoon, my good friend MG was to be in town, but he got there by around noon, and when I found out, we conspired to get a ride in together. Eventually, after all the family things and after running some errands for race supplies, we met up. About 4:15pm, I went back to my room with the plan to get kitted up and hit some of the opening trail of Triple D.

As I scanned my room, I couldn't find a small bag that contained at least half of my clothing for the race. I finally figured out that I had left it at home! It was 4:30pm, and the bike shop closed at5:00pm! Yikes! I texted MG that we were going on an emergency mission to find me some race gear. Well, my wonderful wife said, "Get what you need. Consider it an early birthday present." So I got a North Face base layer set up of a long sleeved shirt and long underwear. I also got some Bontrager tights to go over that. My other bag had my coats, hats, gloves, and tops, so I had everything else I needed. We got it all paid for and we were outta there by 4:50pm. In the end, it was good that I had planned that ride with MG, otherwise my race would have been sunk!

I missed riding with MG, but I did get kitted up in my new stuff and tested it out on a short, half an hour or so ride just to see if everything felt okay. So, a bit of an unknown quantity going into the event was added to the unknown of my health going in.

Race Start: 

Michael Lemberger jonesin' on a Surly Special Ops Pug
Event director, Lance Andre
Overflow parking!
 The event meeting for the bikers was at 9:30am. We raced with two other events simultaneously, a marathon and half marathon running event, and a marathon XC skiing event. The runners and skiers all start befor we do, and everything is coordinated so there is little overlap with the runners and skiers on the Heritage Trail. Kudos to Lance Andre and his crew for juggling so many different needs and schedules!

Anyway, we take the start line at 10am and slow roll to a starting point behind some industrial place which gets us out in the woods and off city streets right away. I take my place near the back of the pack since I had no idea how my body was going to react once the heat was on and I was stressing my body again after the long layoff. Of course, this made the entry into the tight, technical single track a dance of ride some, get off your bike and push some. It was also apparent that the snow was not as "set up" as I had hoped, but it was not bad at this point. Had I been out there alone, the trail may have been more rideable, but with the on again-off again it was hard to get a rhythm going. This led eventually to my first header, which was a classic "lawn dart". I actually had to pull my helmet out of the snow bank with some effort! Subsequently I had packed in snow dripping off my helmet for several hours afterward, but it wasn't bothersome at all.

Waiting near the back to get going on Triple D- In other words, the "real start line" was here!

At this point you leave the city proper and head out into the country. 

Looking back from the same spot as above.
The technical section at the start included several creek crossings, one of which had open water, but I "step-stoned" across and saved my Keen hiking boots from immersion. Then I got rolling pretty well, but the deep snow on the  trail sections was trying. So many ways to get sideways! This part was also where a lot of off camber and very steep pitches were and this made the going slower. The constant line of riders was beginning to break up into smaller groups of riders as some got away, some went slower, and some, like me, crashed themselves out of some groups!

The technical section finally ends as you get dumped out into a bike path, and this had a lot of drifted snow. Finding the right line was critical, and I did okay though here.

Eventually the course dumps you out onto the back yard of a large warehouse looking place and out into the countryside. A long downhill punctuated by a steep drop in and an overpass that you go under leads you into a dairy farmers yard, and one of the coolest parts of the course, to my mind.

The local snowmobile club got this trail put in and the landowner gave his permission to basically go across his farm fields for quite some distance. The first bit is always my favorite of all though, as you go right by the farmstead with its barn, corn cribs, and cattle. This part also includes the infamous "snow mobile fence line crossings" which are fine for a snow machine, but on a bicycle you need to watch yourself. Dropping in a wheel here would be a major issue, as the slats making up the bridges over the fences are placed very widely apart to discourage animals from crossing.

At this point in the event, things are really strung out as far as the riders go. Lots of spaces exist between you and others, and generally speaking, you are essentially out there on your own with the occasional pass or getting passed thing going on.  Conditions were bright and sunny with temperatures headed toward the freezing mark quickly, but the trail surface wasn't too bad yet at this point. I don't recall having a lot of issues riding through this section of the event.

Super-bright sun and excellent farmland views

Riders get pretty strung out by this point in the event. 

I'd stopped once for fluids and eating, but now the sections were so rideable and fun that I did not think a lot about refueling. I had my snack in the Chaff Bag and it was at hand so I began munching a bit on the Wasabi Trail Mix Mrs. Guitar Ted got for me. The trail meandered through the bucolic countryside and I was feeling okay so far.

Next: Up, Down, and Post Holing


JR. Z. said...

Your wheel choice had you working a LOT harder on that first section as well (evidence from following you for a good 1/4 mile). I wasn't worried, though, as I figured the heritage trail with the wind would be super fast for you, and must have (you past me back somewhere in there - think racks and fenders).

MrDaveyGie said...

I always enjoy your write ups and WoW a lot of time on the pedals quite an endurance event you always bring a strong determination to keep moving forward. Things didn't go for me as expected..but I wasn't surprised. Going to get some repair work done and look for somewhere behind you trying to catch up next years. Cheers.
Dave G