Sometime last winter Lana and I were thinking ‘you know, we need some more glassware.’ Well, rather than doing what a normal person would do, and buy some, we decided that if we both completed the three triple crown rides, we’d take home a combined total of 6 commemorative pint glasses. That clearly seemed like the smarter choice. So, off we went to sign up.
Every year Spree Touring puts on the Wisconsin Triple Crown, which is a series of three very difficult bike rides. If you can complete all three you get a cool Triple Crown Jersey. This year Lana and I had worked all three into our schedule. I rode the 100K with Lana for the first two, Arcadia’s Brute and The Kickapoo Kicker. The plan was to cap off the series with the 200K Dairyland Dare route.
So, that was the plan. Ride 126 miles, and climb almost 11000 feet. The terrain is such that the ride would take me about 8-9 hours to do. Here’s what happened.
Race Day -1
I’ve been so busy lately, that details have been falling through the cracks. I finally got around to cleaning my bike and checking it over on the Friday we were supposed to leave. As I was going over it I noticed a bulge in the carbon on my handlebars. I took a deeper look, and sure enough, they were damaged. I’m not sure how, or what happened, but they needed to be replaced so I had an emergency to deal with.
Luckily, Bloomington Cycle and Fitness was able to save me (yet again) and had a very nice set of s-works shallow drop carbon bars. Unfortunately those bars had to be installed. So, I spent a few hours racing around getting that done before we left. Nothing new on race day, right? Oops.
In the haste of switching out my bars, I forgot to reattach my garmin mount, and I had to attach my bike computer with electrical tape.
I didn’t sleep well at all that night.
We woke up about 5 am, and I had coffee and a PB&Honey on white bread. My goal was to practice ironman style nutrition all day, so that included my normal pre-race breakfast. I’d also be aggressively hydrating, taking salt, and eating cliff bloks.
Once we got to the start, I realized I forgot my phone and had to bike back to the hotel (we couldn't get the car out), but that was cool, I like a nice long warm up before I do a 200K bike ride anyway. That's 4 bonus miles, bringing my daily total to 130 btw...
Mile 0 - 60
The first few hours were pretty uneventful. I was averaging about 16 mph with the climbs and targeting .68 IF. My NP was up near 80% most of the time, in an effort to keep my cadence in at least the 60s on the big climbs. The climbs were frequent rollers most of the time, with a fairly steep 20% climb. At about mile 30, Lana caught up with me and we rode together until about mile 58.
The hills got just a bit worse, but in general Dairyland Dare was the easiest of the three rides. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still plenty hard. We ended up on some bike path on this portion of the course and that wasn’t so fun. It was soft, slippery, and a little dangerous.
Also of note was the absence of Roberts Road. From 2010, I learned about this massively steep climb, at about mile 90, that was something like 22%. It was gone this time. I wasn’t sad about that.
At the mile 87 aid station I snagged a PB&J, I had been eating bloks for about 6 hours at this point...and I could have kept doing it, but PB&J just looked way better.
Mile 87 – 107 (The Dark Times)
This part of the course was a bit surreal. I swear I was the only cyclist on the road. It was quiet, lonely, surreal, and, well, hilly.
I started coming up with some theories that I decided I was testing, including:
- Wisconsinites are really sadists that lure us here to suffer on their hills, put numbers on our backs, and race us for sport. Bonus points for their ‘miles until beer’ signs. (Thus far I haven’t disproven this theory, and am of the opinion that it’s true.)
- Riding a bike is fun, but riding a bike for this many hours is kind of stupid.
- Am I lost? I’m not sure…I’d ask that cow, but, well, I don’t speak cow.
Mile 107 to the End
At the mile 107 aid station I lingered a bit. I tend to do a bit of a self-assessment, and I felt like I was doing good. Let’s see: Body? Butt sore, back sore, hands sore, legs…doing ok. Shiney. Energy…meh, well, I just rode a bike 107 miles, felt worse. Hydration? Still peeing at reasonable intervals. Food? Never want to see another cliff blok, other than that, pretty good.
All in all, I was a bit shocked. The last time I did the DD 200K I’d have ranked it as a 10/10 in difficulty. This time through, I’m holding steady at about 7/10. Feeling good, just keeping my head in the game.
So, then some of the hardest climbs hit. There were a few 12-15% grades that just went FOREVER at about mile 118 I think? I was riding with a few other guys, but they were holding me back and making things take longer, so I decided to just go and drop them. They were very nice, but I was just ready to be off the bike. At about mile 120 I was on a flat into town, and I decided I might as well get this over with so I got down into the drops and pushed at about .85 until the finish. Someone caught my wheel and I pulled him all the way back home, which I’ll admit felt pretty good.
In the end, my moving time was about 8.5 hours. Not stellar, but not at all bad for a heavy guy, untapered, on a very hard course. I finished strong and, honestly, could have ridden another 100k, but I was plenty glad I didn’t have to.
Post race was at the Lands’ End corporate offices. It was a really awesome post-race event. I got a shower, a massage, some beer by capital city brewery, and some post-race food.
The next day we ran 6 very very slow miles and checked out “The House On The Rock” which was, the best I can tell, an interesting collection of junk in the middle of nowhere, assembled to separate tourists and their money, but to be honest it was totally worth it, definitely a must see place.