Still Out In The Open:
|Still in open farmland, but the temperature is rising!|
The farmland part of Triple D continued and we went up the famous long climb into the back end of a farmers home, pushing for the majority of the way here. The temperature was
well above freezing now and the snow was beginning to suffer. That is, where the winds weren't drifting it up. But either way, riding anything resembling an "up" was almost undoable by this part of the event if it wasn't in the shade.
A bit of a respite comes though as we got to enjoy an incredible downhill run, which was also in last year's course. This time I was a tad more conservative with my downhill speed owing to the skinnier tires I was running and the looser conditions. Near the end though, I thought better of being conservative and let'er rip! It was fun until I saw the huge drift at the bottom. Several riders had "pizza cuttered" a gash through it, which I aimed for, but I was too sideways upon entry and yard saled it big time! Good thing there was a drift there! I still smacked my left shoulder pretty hard, but I didn't even lay there long. I popped right back up, dusted of a bit of accumulated snow and remounted.
This section is another of my favorites as it goes wending along the woods for a bit, then you have a steep-ish, longer climb out of the valley. I hit an ice patch about halfway up and spun out. Walked it about 20 yards, then rode the rest of the way out. At the top, there is an open field and I decided to eat, drink, and put on some gloves, which I had taken off earlier.
|Post-holing through the drifts after the woods section|
When I started out across the field, it was a constant roll down-post hole back up dance until we reached the edge of the roadway and sailed down the fence line to the first checkpoint. It consisted simply of grabbing a poker card for the poker run part of the event. I had drawn an ace at the start, and here I got another ace. Okay, I took that as a good sign and motored right on out of there.
Outside of the bar where we stopped I saw Steve, whom I rode the end of Triple D with last year, and he was having an issue with his hydration pack, which had leaked all over him. Uggh!
It may have been tolerable for a time with the bright Sun and warm-ish temps, but later on being so wet would probably not be too good. I wished him well, remounted and set off down the fence line to where we exited out onto a paved road.
|Pavement gave a short respite from high resistance snow riding.|
The pavement went on for a bit since we had to go around the part where we were off road last year, which was a section of woods that had about a zillion road apples in it from a horse gathering spot. Kind of a bummer that we had to use pavement, but this year it turned out to be a welcomed respite from pushing, post holing, and struggling with poor snow conditions.
The pavement eventually led us to gravel where I felt "back at home" and was enjoying the crunch of limestone under my tires once again. It was very short lived though, as this was Humke Road. That should ring a bell for anyone that has done Triple D before, since it is the wicked, rutted down hill that nearly is always ice covered and treacherous.
I ping-ponged back and forth downward and I thought I would be getting out unscathed just when I lost it and went down again. I wasn't hurt this time, just angry with myself, but I think the situation was just beyond my wheels and tires ability to cope. I remounted and finished out the down hill, griping about my inability to clean it, but that was just me being silly. I should have been more careful with my downhilling since my tires and wheels really were sub-par for such extreme conditions mixed with any sort of speed.
|The last of the open country views for a while. Off to Heritage Trail from this point. |
|Heritage Trail started out good. |
Hitting The Trail:
|Closing in on Dyersville and another checkpoint. |
Once I hit the trail proper, I was settling into a good pace. There were a few guys that I had been yo-yoing back and forth with, but here I was getting a leg up and drawing them back in. Every so often, I had to pull over for some runners in the marathon race and give them a thumbs up. It was a bit sketchy since the main track was where you wanted to be, but switching lines could get you sideways.
The trail was still pretty good, but showed signs of falling apart. The runners were punching through to the base, and where it was still frozen, the trail was very bumpy. I was glad for the Salsa Titanium Regulator post here. I passed a few guys and then I settled in behind a pair of guys for awhile. One of them made a bobble up front and ended up putting me in the middle. I didn't like following others on the Heritage, since it was really difficult to stay in the narrow "sweet spot" if you couldn't see where it was meandering toward.
I had planned on stopping at the first road crossing when it came for another shot of food and water. When I got to the Epworth Road Trail Head, I stopped and chowed down some beef jerky, a couple of gels, and drank some fluids. After a nature break, I remounted and quickly caught up with Steve and another rider. Apparently Steve had rectified his issues with his hydration pack and was still in the mix. Steve was second wheel and I heard him relay to the rider in front that he planned on stopping at the next intersection to eat. I was okay with waiting behind them to get a clear view in a mile or so. Suddenly, the front rider bobbled and Steve and I bypassed him to end up as a two up pair. Finally Steve pulled off and I was off and running on my own again.
I pulled over for a few more items to eat and a drink or two, but essentially I had no issues going through this sector. I was hauling, feeling good, and my goal was to not see any returning riders from the Dyersville turn around until after I had passed by Farley Iowa. I did that, and just past Farley, I saw Trevor, (the eventual winner), and former Triple D champion, Drew go by me. They weren't going all that fast, which I was a bit surprised by, but the snow conditions were really getting sketchy by this time.
|Beer stop ahead!|
I reached the Dyersville turnaround in 40th place by 2:10pm. Here we got to draw another card for the poker run and I got my third ace! I chowed down some pizza, grabbed some Gatorade, and a brownie, then checked back out and hit the road. I had seen Kyle from Des Moines with another rider going out when I came in, and as I went out, I saw them coming back. They acknowledged me and wished me well, but I found it odd that they, two really strong guys, were coming back to the checkpoint again. I found out later they abandoned there.
Well, about two miles into the Heritage Trail, I think I figured out why they had turned around. The trail had gone completely soft. The snow was like loose flour, or mashed potatoes in places. To make any headway at all, you had to really pay attention to your line and stay in the tracks of those bikes ahead of you. This was difficult with the lowering Sun and its light being filtered through trees making seeing details difficult, if not impossible. Finally, I saw a road where I stopped for a break to eat and drink. I decided to eat and drink at the next one up the line, but when I got there, it was a different sort of break than I had anticipated on taking!
Next: The final installment of the race report for Triple D