Saturday, January 26, 2013

DDD The Ending


 “Hello gentlemen,” I said as the three cyclist rolled up next to me when  I was standing there holding my flatted bicycle tube in my hands. They wanted to know how far the town of Dyersville was from here. They were going to pull the plug there. Their goal was to reach Dyersville; it had been a hard ride. I said Dyersvilee was about 3 miles or so on down the road. I told them my glue wasn’t working and I would be pulling the plug on the race too, unwillingly. One of the cyclists asked me if I wanted a tube? He said he had three spare tubes on board. A smart man.   I said YES!!!!. He pulled a Surly Fat Tube out of his bike bag. I dug a 20 dollar bill out of my jacket pocket, my always there emergency stash cash pocket, and handed it to him.

After repairs, and all the inactivity I was feeling the frozen landscape settle into my bones I needed to get back on the bike and I needed to get going. It would be dark in a few hours, I was a long way from finishing. I had close to 20 miles of level travel mixed with slick ice and frozen gravel before the final section of ATV trails, steep climbs, creek crossings, and the finish, at the Best Western Hotel. I wanted to finish what I started at 10:00 this morning.  One by one cyclists crossed the frozen creek near the start and return finish of the race Each one of us hoped we would not break through.

The next stop would be the Durango Depot bar a mandatory check in. I was hitting patches of ice and trying to ride through them without crashing and trying to gain time on the gravel sections when I could.
I was following another rider that was in front of me while watching him maneuver over the multiple stretches of ice. I was impressed at how well he was finding a line riding without studded tires. I waiting for a safe opportunity to pass him watching his rear wheel and then I saw his rear wheel slide to side and down he went on the ice. Hard. As he was trying to stand back up his  feet slid out from under him on the glare ice and down again he went. I stayed with him and chatted a bit making sure he was ok and then moved on ahead.

Darkness and fatigue often seem to be partners. They were both now starting to visit me. I rolled into the Durango Depot to check in. Before entering into the bar I checked my water bottles for refill. I downed one, and drank what fluid I could get out of the other one.

Bikers and patrons were at the bar. Some of the cyclist were doing the poker run and would not continue on from here on their bikes. There were several other cyclists resting and preparing to launch again. Many cheered when I walked in, we all shared the love of this sport. 

Spinner who was racing and pulling a lead with the front riders when I last saw him at 10:00 this morning was doing the checking in. He had taco’d his bike when his BB bearings froze up. He told me when it happened he was hot on the tail of the 3rd place contestant. In spite of the unfortunate circumstances he was all smiles and an encouragement to me.

I leaned over the bar and ordered two cans of coca cola and downed both. Looking around I saw Adam and a few others leaving, wanting to get er done. I chatted with Traci and Karmen two cyclists in the Poker Run, briefly and out the door I too went. I thought I had about an hour and half left with hilly ATV trails and wooded sections.

I flung the ice out of my one water bottle thinking no sense packing extra weight and decided to finish without any more additional fluids.

It was now dark. Riding along I had some concern about my lighting. My battery being out in the cold all day was already indicating mid power range a few minutes after turning it on. I was seeing other cyclists’ lights at times. Some in front of me, some behind me. We all had one goal in the same, to finish and get off these bikes.

Now off the trail and riding ATV trails approaching the first steep climb my front tire broke through ice and into water, surprising me it wasn’t froze solid.
 I heard voices now, other riders close to me on this dark trail. I saw two other dark sillouttes and the three of started riding together. We hit the bottom of the first steep climb about the same time. A rutted rocky steep climb. I lost my line first and off the bike I went, and the shortly the same occurred for the other two riders. So now we pushed our bikes together up this hill.

I didn't notice right away but one of the riders was Nick, my friend and fellow cyclist. Nick runs the Cup-O-Dirt and we got together a couple of times last year living in different cities. Nick was riding with his friend Jared and now my friend too.
Nick says to me let's ride this out together. I said to the two of them I didn’t want to slow them down, that I felt like an empty gas tank that somebody punched a hole in. Jared replied we all are, let’s ride. We formed a bond without saying anymore and rode on, the three of us.
Our lights were going dim, I couldn’t see well and was riding without distinguishing clearly what was ice and what was not. We had finished a series of hills and now were catching our last breather on a mile or so section of pavement, which gave us a bit of a break and a bit of some chat time.
…and then we were lost. Yes LOST!!! We must have wandered off the grass trail and into a woods. We saw blinking lights to our left and hollered over asking if he was lost. It was Troy and Troy wasn’t lost, we were. So packing, dragging, pushing our bikes through a pathless woods to get back on the trail while Troy waited with his rear light blinking as our navigational guide.

Now the four of us were headed towards the finish line together. Troy had passed me twice while I was repairing flats, and I passed him up at each of the mandatory stops and check in locations.

Working our way together, on single path, mixed with some ATV double path we were not talking much.
We were now out of the woods figuratively and literally. It was just a few miles of pavement left. We all stopped together.  Jared pulled out PJB sandwiches with raisons and honey and offered me a hunk and passed some around to the others. It was like a celebratory meal we were breaking bread. It tasted so good, it was almost froze and but I was low on fuel and it was hitting the spot.

When we got back on our bikes and onto the pavement I noticed my front tire was going flat again. I didn’t care anymore, I would drag this bike to the finish if I had to.

With low tire pressure I pedaled on next to Troy, Jared and Nick were right behind us, we made small chat and pulled into the hotel parking lot. Our journey was finished. Bill S. a DDD volunteer every year came out and asked for the order of arrival for the race records, we said we all finished together.
At the finish, with my friend and 4th place finisher Joe S. His wife Tina was the only woman finisher in the 64 mile race.



 A bunch of hard rode horses at the awards ceremony.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Triple D Part #2


I was in my territory now. I am on this part of the trail well over 50 times a year. My energy levels felt good and I felt like pedaling. Maintaining a pace that kept my heart rate in the upper end I was starting to catch two riders in front of me.  I chase better than I can lead and I was working at getting closer to these two. Realizing I've taken in only a small amount of fluid and not a thing to eat. I woofed down some Reese’s Peanutbutter cups, and a Fruit bar
  while holding a steady pedal. Next I tried to suck fluid out of both water bottles that had turned to mostly slush. I double insulated both bottles in an attempt to delay freezing, one contained Monster Pop and the other Gatorade. Shaking and sucking on the bottle let me drink about half of the contents the remainder was ice slush. Chad’s pizza in Dyersville was about 10 miles away would have to be my next drink.

Working on my pace I passed the two riders in front of me. With my heavily studded Fat Dillinger tires I could move faster on these icy sections then many of the riders without the studs.

The lead riders were starting to pass me in the opposite direction now. A.J. was holding a lead and looking quite focused and holding a fast pace. A.J. would go on to win this race and told me later that he developed a technique when his stud less bike would start to slide out he would put his feet on the ground and hop off the seat and slide through and then remount the bike without crashing or stopping.

A.J. was followed by Drew, last year’s winner. Joe my friend from S.D. was in 5th and looking strong. Lance, Marcus, and others were starting to head to the finsh about 30 away.

I could see Tina, Mikael, Troy, and Erv; up in front of me now on a long stretch headed the same direction as I was. I recognized them because they had spent a few minutes talking to me when I was tube changing back on the trail. I set myself to catch them and started gaining. Shortly something didn’t look right. They were off their bikes and standing in a tight group. I feared someone was down, someone crashed on this hard ice. I pulled up and realized Mikael had gone down hard. He was now standing and trying to move his hand which I could tell was quite painful. His bike had a few broken parts.
Picture of Mikael and  I one week earlier.
Mikael decided to get back on the bike, and the 5 of us mounted our rigs and started pedaling. I felt like picking up the pace and slowly started moving out ahead.

Arriving in Dyersville at Chad’s Pizza the turnaround point and place to refuel. There were hot pitchers of tea on the table and I poured some in both of my water bottles melting the slush and drinking both bottles down as a mix of luke warm tea monster pop and the other Gatorade. Next I drank about 40 ounces of lemon aid and grabbed three pieces of pizza off the smorgasbord table. Filled one bottle with hot water the other with Lemon Aid for the return trip, along with putting a couple of candy bars in my pocket. Chad's Pizza was being good to us cyclists. There were at least a dozen riders there ahead of me and more coming in behind me.

Feeling fluidized, refueled, and I was able to unstick my jacket zipper now with energy to burn I decided to get back on the road. The last 8 miles here there was a hellacious fore wind to fight. Now it was payback time with a tail wind.

Moving right along, and headed back, I was feeling good for about 5 miles then bike started to feel not ‘right’. I looked back at my rear wheel and saw it was now going flat. I said aloud, “You’ve got to be kidding me?” several times talking to myself. I used up my spare tube with flat #1 and now would have to patch. The lug bolts were froze over with ice as previously and had to be thawed out putting each end in my mouth and letting them thaw out. I found the tiny air leak and applied glue, waited, and placed the patch over the hole and compressed. Tube inserted in tire on rim and tire bead set inside rim and air pump was put to work. After about 150 pumps I mounted tire on bike tightened wheel lugs and added additional air.


I picked up my mess and prepared bike to roll on down the trail. Pushing my fingertips into the rear tire as a habit of checking air pressure and felt tire was getting softer. Ahggggggggggggg!!!!! It was losing air. Ok starting all over again. Removed tube and realized the glue was not looking right. Had a slight stickiness to it. I’m thinking it is not going to set at 8 degrees F. I’m thinking I am done with the race. DNF. Not going to finish. This sucks. I needed to make a phone call, walk to a road. Call it quits. I looked down the trail and there were three riders coming my way headed to the turnaround point. I would encourage them to keep moving, as I was stopping.




Monday, January 21, 2013


The hotel lobby was buzzing Sunday morning. Well managed bikes and bodies were everywhere. We were all anxious to get the show started. I know myself and the other over 100 cyclists have put a lot of thought and preparation into riding our geared horses today. We would be riding 64 miles for 6 to 10 hours in 10 degree F temperatures across corn fields, wooded trails, and snow mobile trails throughout the day, and for most of us after sunset.

I didn’t know what to expect out of myself today. I have been battling a knee injury for months that have limited my mileage and intensity training on the bike.  I mentally prepared for the potential of pulling the plug and a DNF and  the disappointment.
After a prerace meeting we all lined up on our rigs in the hotel parking lot. Some of us riding around in circles waiting for the start gun to fire. At this point you want to feel cold, if you don’t you are way overdressed.
We began to roll out, I don’t know the final count but I would venture to guess 125 riders with the poker run riders and the around 100 riders in the 64 mile race.

I sure we must have been quite a sight as we rolled out through the busy city streets to get to the country trails. People looking at us shivering in their cars waiting for their car heaters to hurry  and warm up on the coldest day so far this winter.
Soon we were riding, carrying, pushing, and flying off our bikes in various stages and conditions of this race. There are always the front gunners. Riders that have a shot at winning. They jump out front, take risks, ride hard, and go for the gold. Me? I found myself somewhere in the middle of the pack moving with the herd.  
I am on the left with my FatBack getting in line to get my bike across the rail road tracks.

I found myself like the other riders around me pedaling hard on the sections where the tires were hooking up with good traction, running with the bikes in some areas, and in other areas just hitting on a hill as fast as possible then jumping off the bike to push it up to the top, and then repeat. I was starting to warm up, my sunglasses steamed up and I hooked them inside on my jacket collar. Perspiration was starting to form on my back. This could spell disaster and have me freezing later. My temperature control relies on opening and closing zippers starting first with my nylon wind breaker and then on wool undergarments.  

The problem was my windbreaker zipper was stuck and stuck solid. Attempting to stay on the bike and pull the zipper down while holding onto the top of the jacket with my mouth didn’t work. I needed to get off the bike and work this zipper open to cool down at 9 degrees F outside. My jacket zipper had other ideas and would not budge. So after trying a time or two again, I gave up for now, and commenced to not waste any more time with such.
Pedal on I did, exchanging places and commentary with various other cyclists as we jockeyed for position amongst ourselves out here in the farm fields on the day the NFL division champions were being decided.                                                                     

I was starting to look for Heritage trail. I knew once there I would have about 40 miles of level riding. My legs needed a break from all these hills. At this point I hooked up with friend and fellow rider Mark and we were moving together at a pace that matched. Soon we were on the descent down into the valley of Heritage trails. Now on the trail and ready to roll.

Mark was in the lead, and I followed. It was getting harder to maintain the same pace. I was concerned I might be starting to bonk all ready. Then I saw the problem. My front tire had less than 5 psi in it. FLAT!!!!

So I encouraged Mark to head on, I would repair this flat, and try to hook up with him down the road at Dyersville the turn around point.
I laid the bike down, and grabbed my Allen wrench from my bike bag to remove the front tire, and thought to myself I should convert these hubs to quick release.

Both Allen socket bolts were froze hard with ice in them and a smaller Allen wrench would not dig out the ice as cold as it was. I was getting cold too; I was a bit damp with sweat, not moving, and the wind blowing.
I had two options to thaw out my hub bolts. Option 1 pee on them, Option 2 suck on them. I choose option 2 just in case option 1 didn’t work and bolts froze back up again and the would leave me with just option 2.
After being passed up by 8 riders all asking if I needed help I repaired flat with a replacement tube and headed down the road looking to make up lost time.


What a day. Tripe D bike race. 62 miles through corn fields, woods, and trails. Two and half flats, 10 degrees with wind, got lost in the woods in the pitch dark, and 91 bikers. I finished just in the middle of the pack. I was happy
with that, being most of them are much younger stallions, and tire problems like trying to get a frozen tire patch to hold and failed and then another flat, and finished with my front tire flat again. More later.
Fat Bikes have taken over Best Western Motel

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Next Sunday, Jan 20th is the Triple D bicycle, run, and Ski race starting in Dubuque Iowa. There will be over 200 participants this year. Lance and Traci Andre put a tremendous amount of time, effort, heart and soul into this event and it shows. It grows every year. This will be my 4th year in this event.

Today leaving from my house I rode 20 miles out and 20 miles back on the Heritage Trail portion of the race. It was quite a mix of riding conditions as you shall see in the following pictures.

Getting out of town to the Trail was the most treacherous part of the ride.
This first picture below is not part of the race. I used my Dillinger Fat Studded tires for the first time today. This section had me holding my breath none the less but my tires held, amazingly well.

I was glad to get off of this. Didn't feel like breaking a knee cap today for some reason.
Here the trail rode fast plenty of frozen grit and gravel to bite into.
Here is where the marathon runners will turn off of the trail and head to Eichman's Tap for the finish.

A couple of bridges are down on the trail and to avoid wet feet here is my homemade bridge in an attempt to keep the feet dry. 
It has been unusually warm all week. There has been a lot of snow melt. Starting out this morning parts of the trail were still soft and spraying grit and freezing on my bike.  
Some of the sections that don't see sun still had full snow coverage.

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Now it is time for both of us, Fatty and I to chill and warm up. I don't know what the fuss is all about with the FatCycle thawing out in the dining room. I mean, I don't think the hardwood floors will hurt the Studded Tires.
Ok that was the Heritage Trail section of DDD. Tomorrow I shall head out on the other areas of the race. Like the trails up off the side of NW Arterial, and the infamous Humke B road down through the woods.
Over and out.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I woke up this morning later then I thought I would, later then I thought I should. My body was tired.  Yesterday’s ride had me pushing a fat tired bike though snow that needed more compaction to ride. The combination of cold air, bike pushing, fat tire riding left me in a pleasant almost euphoric state of exhaustion.
 But now excessive caffeine consumption has reached the point of nonproductive fidgeting. My solution to this is to saddle up and leg my legs pedal my bike out in the country for my soul to have a treat.

I have lights, so if the mood is right, the energy is there, and can still ride after the sun goes down. I think I will explore some new routes today. It is a feeling of freedom and enjoyment that is my passion.  But now I am sitting here wasting time, I gotz ta go.  

Cheers and thanks for the visit.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Checking out the Triple D bicycle race (Click here) trail route today. It was a blast. Left from home and took the city streets to the snow mobile trails that climb up and down the hills to the north of NW Arterial which will be the return route of DDD to the hotel.  A lot of places on the road it was slick ice and you just held still and tried to let your bike roll through without doing a ground slam. If I had my Studly tires on there would have been no issue but I knew I was going to ride a lot of snow covered snow mobile trails and wanted the fatter nonstudded  tires.

Right off the bat I find myself pushing my bike. Steep hills, I run out of traction even with the fattie tires.

My plans are to let the 75 + bicycle riders that are ahead of me pack down the
trail on these current push-a-bike sections. Makes it easier for us over the hill gang. ;-)
As long as you stayed inside the snow mobile tracks you could keep pedaling
Pushing my bike through snow above my cycling boots let the snow in. Snow melted and socks were wet. Feet cold. The best thing was to just keep moving. My bike slid out on me and I went air born riding through some slick areas. I realized that I have not seen a single person since I went off road and getting injured down here might not be a good idea.