Failed to make hotel reservations for far too long despite having already paid the entry fee. The lack of snow just sapped my enthusiasm. Luckily, and fairly last minute Spinner moved to Platteville about a week before the race. I got down there around 3pm on Saturday and we set off to pre-ride a bit to check conditions and to check out the Durango bar-
This outfit is his uniform. Never changes, like a super hero.
He also has a baby Hyena (for my stupid readers- it isn't really a Hyena, having a Hyena is stupid and dangerous and might lead to stripping as per the show I recently watched about a guy who had a pet baby Hyena and wound up stripping to supplement his income in order to feed it. This Hyena is actually a corgi mix). The Hyena pup was not an issue in the Durango bar!
It was pleasing to see that the conditions were "winter" and that fat bikes would absolutely be necessary (or as much so as they ever have... see last years results).
We checked in at the pre-race seminar around 6 then found our way to an eerily empty asian restaurant with a whole band of friends. Spinner and I both consumed huge quantities of Mu Shu Chicken before retiring back to Platteville.
At some point we realized it was only about 9pm and that he had only been to one bar in his new home town. We decided to go to the rest. My favorite was the one with an actual Chevy Silverado tailgate bracketed to the wall. I think he preferred the one where we could look down off the balcony at the "hot" bartenders- the one we had initialy thought was a strip club because it was called "School Girlz", this was before we were inside. We also weren't entirely sure all the "hot bartenders" were actually women, this was when we got closer to them. We still had a great time and generally kept things moving towards being ready to race hard.
After an admittedly short, but hot night with a sexy, little, sharp-toothed, lady, hyena pup, I found myself at Country Kitchen contemplating a long day on the bike. I've been pretty careful diet wise recently, but this was no time to skimp on food... corned beef hash skillet and pancakes!
Once we got over to Dubuque the race start was fast approaching. I was guzzling water, HEED and diet soda. Decided it was going to be warm enough that I should carry my camelbak bladder in my Jandd frame bag and that I didn't need ANY extra clothing. I left with about 800 calories of food in the form of powerbar's soda gummy things, almonds, mint m&ms and HEED plus 2 Starbuck's double-shot espressos in a Jersey pocket. I also brought the IPOD set to blast with nothing but early 2000s rap on the play list and just the left headphone in (I believe Spinner also had tunes- his taking the form of Lady Gaga and speakers). I wound up only consuming 200 calories of powerbar gummy things, 40 oz of HEED and about 30 oz of water during the race.
A few "big names" (in quotes because they may only be "big names" in their own mind) had recently backed out of the race, or more precisely, had not registered at all even though they had said they probably would. Lance Andre, who really is a big name, would also not be racing this year as organizer. Plus, Mr. Charlie Farrow had given me some words of encouragement and picked me as a potential winner via the interweb. I felt a little pressure and I was nervous at the start, but knew that my recent fitness has been high and that I had a faster bike than last year. I kept telling myself it would be good, but my lack of time on the fat bike had me picturing falling over while trying to ride over ridge of snow a plow had pushed up 5' in front of where I was staged. The high temperatures predicted for the day would favor going out hard... it might potentially get soft/melty/slow later and it would be good to be as far along as possible. My best strategy would be to use some of my left-over CX fitness to just 'get the hell out of there' before anyone, and maybe more importantly the course, knew what hit them.
The first time I looked back was exactly 1 mile into the competitive part of the route (after the neutral roll-out was completed). At the point I couldn't see anyone behind me. The first few miles of the course are very hilly and soft. It was tough going. I had to hike quite a few hills and burn a lot of matches on the ones I chose to ride. I kept the perceived effort basically pinned at 8/10 or so and chose whatever route/option seemed fastest at that moment. Somewhere around 45 minutes or an hour into the race I stopped to take my Almanzo jacket (ironically? I wore the exact same thing for this that I did in the Royal 162 back in May) and was able to use the high hilltop vista to see some of my competitors back down the road. I knew it was my race to lose, but that I had to focus on proper pacing and fueling.
The hilly/soft private land snowmobile trails seemed to stretch on and on. I found that the key was to look for grass sticking up through the trail and to hit the gas when there was traction available and then to "float"/coast to the next thin patch. In general the snow was too deep and too soft for any normal riding. Finally, I got to the last big uphill. I was forced to hike about 80% of it and once again I was able to use a vista to look back on other riders. There was actually someone in what appeared to be grey no more than 8-10 minutes back at this point.
Pushed on as such, by their presence, I hammered the paved section in the aero bars and 32x11 and kept a lot of momentum up down the B road. I took care not to risk a flat or a fall, and to make sure to carry big speed out the bottom above anything else. Finally, I hit the heritage trail and found it in good shape. I rode the entire day with approximately 6 psi in the Larry's and they did well on the trail. On the return trip I would see a lot of evidence of other people not fairing so well on their fat bikes and wonder if they were running too much pressure? As it was I was able to spend most of my time on the trail in the aero bars and often at speeds north of 15 mph. I made the halfway point at 1:20 or just over 3 hours of elapsed time and was feeling great. After a very quick stop and a slog back through the last section of snowmobile trail I was back to the main Heritage Trail BEFORE I saw any competitors coming toward me. The first one was SPINNER!
I was ecstatic to see him riding hard and doing well, and I was feeling good. I also knew that I had a big enough lead that I didn't need to worry about going too hard and blowing up. From there on out I pushed even harder than I had been. I believe I averaged over 16 from that point on in the race despite going into the wind. Literally riding like I was in a time trial. Thinking about nothing but pedaling and trying to keep my cadence up. I had a few issues with coming up fast behind people and actually fell once while trying to barrel through a drift, but overall it went very fast. I was not ever able to fully shake the idea that someone might be catching me. Near the end of the race I got a big scare when somebody commuting was about half a block back!
I finished in 5:29 and there was no one there to greet me... I guess that's a good thing. I guess I had broken the course record by quite a bit (while I was riding I had it in my head that Cody's CR time last year was about 5 hours even, but I was later informed that I was wrong). Perhaps the course was faster this year.
A few guys got ahead of Spinner while he ate pizza and he gave a strong chase. He caught one, but the other two got lost a bit and so we will never know if he could have run them down. He finished in 2nd! First ever Triple D finisher on a Moonlander and first ever wearing shorts (or did he finish previously?). A few very strong riders came in soon after Spinner and then the two of us had to run. I haven't seen full results yet, but they may be posted by the time you read this. I checked into a hotel and he got the Hyena then we hit the awards. Lots of good conversation about fat bikes, Almanzo stuff, bike parts in general, riding etc. and then the actual ceremony. Tons of beer and free food were consumed. Awesome time all the way around. A lot of great sponsors including two of my favorites- Milltown Cycles and Phil Wood. Plus a 9 zero 7 frame was given away to the winner of the "skinny bike" class thanks to Chain Reaction Cycles, the same as the borrowed one I had raced on.
Then, the Busted Lift. Everything the Dakota 5-0 after party was lacking. We had an incredible time- even had dozens of hamburgers picked up and brought to the bar! Thanks to all involved in making that happen. 9 am alarm came awful early, but I had to get back to Rochester.
Next race is CIRREM. In the meantime I hope to see you on January 29th for the Untitled Almanzo ride and/or the Dickie Scramble on February 11th...
Results - Thanks to all who came out to make the 2017 Dirt Bag another good day for the gravel community. The previous days rain made the course a little soft and put...
1 day ago