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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dairyland Dare

August 10th: The Dairyland Dare - Stage Three of the Wisconsin Triple Crown Series.  For serious riders, the Dare offers options up to 300km (nearly 200 mi).  Riders who are much more serious than I.  Evidence: this was my first ride since RAGBRAI.  So, I opted for the 100K route - or about 65 miles with 5,000' of climbing.
So many choices.
I woke up at 4:30 to get going.  It's an hour drive from home to Dodgeville.  The ride began and ended at the Lands End headquarters in town.  Nice facility.  Registration was well organized. 
If this isn't motivation, I'm not sure what is!
I rolled out with the 7:15 wave.  Riders left Lands End every fifteen minutes.  My plan was to do the 100K ride, finish about noon and head back home.  Ahhh, the best laid plans of mice and men....
Time to ride!
There were about 35-40 riders leaving when I did.  Most of the riders who had committed to the longer routes (200K +) had left in the earlier waves.  Our group was mostly 100 and 150K riders.
The 7:15 wave riding out of Dodgeville
The rider in the picture above #121_ is wearing a RAGBRAI jersey from this year.  He and I talked for a bit.  He was from Iowa City and took up cycling in 2010 because he was having knee issues and couldn't keep up with his running.  He rode the 150K.  I saw him later in the day, when the two routes crossed, riding strong.
The rolling countryside of SW WI.
The first 50K were mostly rolling hills, and lots of them.  The cue sheet listed nine separate hills.  It was, especially compared to the first two stages of the Triple Crown in Arcadia and Viroqua, relatively easy.
Must've been early when this photo was taken.  I still look like I could ride.

And then I had a little issue.  About 3-1/2 miles from the 50K finish (aka my half-way point).  I had passed a water stop by a couple miles when I started experiencing some difficulty shifting.  Then I couldn't shift at all.  So I turned around to head back to the water stop.  I was able to make most of the way back, but did have to walk up one hill.  (Side note, I was disappointed that only two riders had even asked if I was ok.  Most just rode past.)  There was a support truck there to call in for a SAG ride.  Within a couple minutes one was driving by as he got the call to pick me up.
Umm, I don't think this is right.  Anyone got duct tape or some super glue?  Busted shifter cable.
The SAG drove me about 10 miles to the next rest stop in Governor Dodge State Park, where there were two mechanics ready to help.  They had shifter cables and repaired my broken steed.  (I forgot the guy's name who worked on my bike for me.)  I was good to go again.

The ride into the Park was beautiful, but there was a steep hill about just before the rest stop.  I decided to make up most of the mileage I lost by getting SAG'd by riding the loop through the park, about 6 miles, from the rest stop to the entrance/exit and back to the rest stop.  In addition the two miles riding back to the water stop with the broken cable, I covered about 8 of those 10 miles.
The descent into Governor Dodge State Park.  The lake in ahead on the left.
Now, on to the second 50K.  There were five hills listed in the next section of the ride.  But they were much larger and more daunting than the rollers of the first half of the day.
A long descent. My kind of road!
After rolling out of Governor Dodge State Park, there was about six miles of relative flat riding until we hit the big hills.  First was a 400' descent, and then a climb back out of the valley.  Up 200' then a slight drop and then more climbing.  This part of the ride was turning out to be brutal.
Suffering up the Dyerson Rd hill. Not pretty ... in so many ways.
Especially for a guy carrying more than a few extra pounds.  They come in handy when going down hill, but it's like dragging an anchor going up. I am a SLOW climber.  I've since heard that each pound a rider is overweight cost him/her 15 seconds for every mile of climbing. If that's true, I lose about 5 minutes each mile going up. 

More of SW WI hills.  A little more severe in this part of the county.
The route was well supported, not only with the SAG support, but also with full stocked rest stops with mechanics, and also water/snack stops.  The route was well marked and the volunteers and staff were awesome!
Last stop, for us on the 100K route.  13 miles to beer!
After the last stop, there was one more hill (technically it was two) before the finish.  Not as severe or as long as the others.  But after fighting the others, it was no less challenging on my tired legs.  So I did what my jersey said - I fought head down.  (Jersey was our LIVESTRONG team jersey for RAGBRAI.)
Last hill of the day.  I can do this.  I will do this.  I did it!
Finally, after over six hours, I rolled back into the Lands End complex and finished the Dairyland Dare and the Wisconsin Triple Crown.
And the reward!  A cold pint of Capital brew.  
A tasty reward to rehydrate with.
While I was enjoying my beer, someone called my name and was walking towards me. It turned out to be a teammate from 2011 Team LIVESTRONG, Amy.  We had talked about connecting at each of the stages of the Triple Crown, but never connected.  So, at the end of the last day, it was a little ironic that we actually were able to reconnect. 
Riders who complete the Triple Crown receive a personalized jersey commemorating all three stages on the back pocket.  You can select what you want it to say.  Mine will be "CRAWL UP - FLY DOWN" in honor of my great skills on the hills.

My Strava data from the ride. 
You'll note that straight line from mi 30 to just past 36. That's where I paused as I was getting SAG'd to the mechanic. I rode an extra loop thru Governor Didge State Park, which was gorgeous!) to make up for some of the list mileage. Still ride more than 100K (thanks to the loop).