This past weekend a four of us from the Freeport area traveled to Dubuque to participate in the hardest Fat Bike event I’ve ever participated in. The evening before the event the temps dropped, the wind picked up, and a bunch of snow dumped. It’s hard to say how much snow, but the fresh snow and all the drifting changed the dynamics of the race.
Justin was set to race the 70 mile event that he won in 2018. My 12 year old son Max, myself, and friend Jake signed up for the 35 mile event. This big race is called Triple D, it passes through the towns of Dubuque, Dyersville, and Durango and the 35 miler is the Double D as we don’t go all the way to Dyersville.
The Triple D took off at 9:00, the Double D at 9:30. As we waited to launch I looked at the map and chatted up other riders about the course, plotting ways to cut it short or bail out mid ride. It wasn’t likely I was tough enough to handle the cold conditions for 35 miles and I was certain Max wasn’t up for it either (boy oh boy was I wrong.)
As the race started the first section was a paved trail leaving town but it wasn’t plowed. All we had was a deep tread in the snow left from the Triple D racers. I was following Max letting him set the pace and somehow he found his was to the front and smoked the long stretch out of town. I couldn’t break my concentration to look back, but when I finally did only one person was in my rear view. It was a nice breakaway but it didn’t last long.
Once we got off the unplowed paved trail and hit the snowmobile trail it all changed. The snow was too deep to ride and the hills were so steep. We lost our place at the front when we had to climb (walk) a monster hill. I carried my bike up and then had to go down to help Max out as he has a heavier bike at about 32lbs. This took a huge toll on us. The bright side was Jake caught up to us and the three of us were able to enjoy the ride/walk together.
Just 8 miles in and we were shot. We were eating all our food early while realizing we still had a long ways to go. The next 9 miles were a series of corn fields and snowmobile triails and lots and lots of walking. Surprisingly we were in good spirits. The sun was shining and we were working up a good sweat. The course took us through some beautiful scenery. The woods is such a great place in the winter. If you hate bugs and poison ivy but can handle the cold its the best time to be outdoors.
We finally made it to the checkpoint at mile 17ish. We were beat! The three of us scarfed down a chicken wrap, fries, and a Coke and took off. If you stay too long at those rest stops you’ll never want to leave. The next few miles were really brutal, but we knew the hardest part was behind us. We had a crazy gnarly downhill, crossed a muddy creek, (at least I hope it was mud) passed some cattle and finally we were on the Heritage Trail. Now it was just a flat trail to Durango.
The trail into Durango, which eventually took us into Dubuque, was snow covered and wasn’t the easiest riding due to the snowmobilers turning up the snow. We stayed single file with the first person breaking the trail for the rest of us. (Jake did a lion’s share) I noticed Max got really quiet and I just knew he was struggling. We were putting out huge efforts all day and it had to be taking a toll on the kid. When we were close to Durango. I let him know we were almost there and gave him some encouragement which was all he needed. He charged into Durango as the photo below shows.
In Durango Max had some pizza and a Mountian Dew. He changed his chemical warmers on his toes and seemed to be doing a ton better. Again, we didn’t stay long. Less than 10 miles and we were done! Max was like a horse headed back to the stable. He just lit it up on the Heritage Trail back to town. When we checked in at the end of the race we were 6th and 7th place with a time of 7 hours and 21 minutes.
If your up for an adventure add the Triple D race to the list. A big thanks to the race organizers for doing a phenomenal job. Course was well marked, maps/cues were excellent, and just an all around nice bunch of people.
Big shout out to Justin! He finished 3rd place in the Triple D.
Thanks to my riding partners Jake and Max. We all rode well together and kept positive when riding got tough. As for Max, for a 12 year old to finish the ride in those conditions and with a 6th place finish this kid just amazes me. Oh yeah, and he still had enough energy for a late night swim back at the hotel.
Stay tuned for more Adventures with Max. Next up, Land Run 100.