Monday, January 12, 2009

would you rather...(triple d recap)

for anyone that has done the triple d both years, the question seemed simple. would you rather ride in -30 degree windchills or +30 degrees with around 6" of new snow. as the "race" became a timed hike-a-bike the answer changed until it was as simple as the question. first those who pushed further and further (corey, lance, dennis, dave, tom, joel)...congrats. to the group i ended up with (trevor, scotty, jesse, max, and the guy from iowa city who's name i'm ashamedly forgetting)...thanks for making a great time out of the most well organized death march i've ever been a part of. our story goes something like this...ride thru downtown/residential dubuque laughing at people trying to keep upright through the slush for a mile or so, then hit a flat, untouched stretch of bike trail and make our way through fresh powder for another mile. then we head for the huge hill. we climbed this mile or so long hill covered in however many inches of fresh snow looking like a paceline of fools who had no idea what was in store. we had no idea how happy we should be that we were actually riding. we were on and off pavement and snowmobile trails for the next few miles while we headed out of town. whenever we were on the snow we were walking at least 75% of the time. made our way to the "b" road that was the highlight of last year. not so much this year. pugsleys and studded folk made their way down okay...i crashed a lot. the b road was 6" of powder over glare ice. somehow the b road still provide one of the more memorable moments as i started to crash and decided it was a good idea to reach over and pull scotty down with me. no one was hurt, so we pushed on. finally we got to the heritage trail. there were about 15 people stretched out over a couple hundred yards. EVERYONE was walking. this is pretty much where the story doesn't change...we walked, and walked, and walked. "leaders" changed, groups changed, conversations ebbed and flowed, emotions ranged from incredulous to angry to delirious to hungry. discussions of when to pack it in were slow to emerge. it was obvious no one wanted to be "that guy". so we marched on. for hours. it is impossible to explain to anyone who wasn't there what its like to try to walk in cycling shoes on 6-12" of fresh snow covering glare ice while pushing a bike for hours on end. finally a couple guys on pusgleys and a "skinny" bike pulled off the front and our well separated line regrouped. scotty and i had been walking together when we came around a corner to trevor waiting on a bridge. corey had been right behind us and we thought jesse was back there as well. after jesse came around the corner we saw the guy from iowa city and max from platteville. the 7 of us made a pact to walk together until we came up with a better idea. 7 guys, lined up, pushing their bikes in the snow. the fact that it seemed so normal may trump the absurdity of the actual situation. finally we saw signs of life...the photographer/support crew standing at a road that the heritage trail crosses. the 7 of us stopped and quickly did some math/re-evaluation. from what we had been told it was about 37 miles to get to dyersville which was the halfway point. we were at roughly mile 25 (although we were told we only had 8 miles left, not sure on the math but whatever). 3 things became clear. 1. no one was finishing. not just our group...NO ONE. 2. if we chose to make it to dyersville we probably had 3-4 more hours of walking through the snow (found out later there were a couple miles we would have ridden which would have left us about 2 hours of walking). 3. if we chose to make it to dyersville it would have taken longer to get halfway than it took me to finish last year. one thing that was uncertain was how we were getting back should we make it to dyersville. none of us were in the mindset to ride back, even by road, to dubuque after that. the conversation quickly turned to the best way to get from where we were to the handlebar/finish line. during the conversation we picked up another lost soul that had exited the trail elsewhere. then, quietly, corey bid us farewell and soldiered on. damn dude. good luck and much respect. for the rest of us, time to take advantage of the liquor we were smart enough to pack. dry socks, dry gloves, warm throats, we headed off for a gas station in epworth. we cleaned them out of every crumb of hot food they had made then discovered they had $1.39 24oz cans of high life. support gave the decorah crew a ride to the finish line from epworth and this is where things finally started going downhill (which seemed like the right direction). spent however many hours there, back to the hotel for showers, awards then off to the bars. the first bar was a little high class for us but entertainment was provided by jenna's school of dance with scotty as her assistant. from there to the busted lift for some live rock and somehow jesse ended up as the guest lead singer. at some point before the night ended i received an excellent outside leg kick followed by a single leg takedown followed by some less than impressed bar patrons. scotty and trevor helped themselves to some peanuts that came from somewhere (the bar doesn't serve them...not sure exactly on this one) and in true scotty form he was asleep before we left the bar. the bike ride back to the hotel narrowly escaped becoming a derby. sunday brought brunch and a few hours of water slides before heading back. lance...thanks for the opportunity to suffer. corey...much respect for pushing as long as you did. joel...much respect for making it to dyersville and living to tell the story. to everybody i walked with, laughed with, drank with and occasionally rode with...thanks for a great day. as for not finishing, as for not making it halfway, as for not pushing any further than i did...walking your bike for hours on end staring at your feet drudging through snow gives a person plenty of time to fight those demons. had i made it to dyersville i would have made it 37 miles, and in the course of that i would have literally walked a marathon. in the snow. pushing my bike. maybe i'll regret not proving to myself that i could do that but in making the decision i did i got to spend a lot of time with some awesome people. i can live with that.
normally not having a seat would be terrible...this race it probably wouldn't have mattered
if you're ever in the durango area, ask sov for directions to the handlebar...pretty sure he knows the easiest way there. no hills at all.
jesse and i at the finish line. i have other pictures of jesse that were taken after i stupidly left my camera on the table...those will be saved until necessary.
scotty...who eventually found out that these glasses belonged to sov. i think this was before the head butting competition began.
jenna, trevor, and my cell phone insulator which doubles as a coozie.


T Miller said...

Good meeting you Ben. That was the best/worst/only bike pushing race I've ever done. Hopefully see you out at a race sometime...maybe the Decorah TT this spring. If you get the itch to race your MTB again this winter, there is an awesome series in Minneapolis on actual single track:

there is also an ice race (criterium style) on one of the lakes in Minneapolis:

shockstar said...

good meeting you too, tom. and congrats again. not sure i have anything else going on this weekend so i might consider it depending on what time i close the bar saturday night. thanks for the heads up.

Ari said...

I congratulate you guys for having the guts and stamina to be out there. I hope this deep freeze ends soon.
from Sycamore, IL.