I started hearing about Triple D three years ago, when I made the mistake of scheduling a race the same weekend. Things were way different back then. There weren’t all of the race opportunities for fat-bikes, like there are now. I started to become further acquainted with some of the characters that live and breath Triple D, when, last year, one of my other hair brained race ideas required racers to sport a mustache (for charity). The Triple D faithful protested and we found a way for them to keep their beards, that they swore, were necessary equipment, for their survival at Triple D. At last year’s Pugsley World Championships, I got to meet quite a few of this racing fraternity- tribe – what have you. One of the best things about this job is that I get to meet and many times, become friends with, a vast array of folks from around the country that are all part of the growing fat-bike community.
The DDD Tribe meets every year on MLK weekend to race from Dubuque to Dyersville to Durango and then Back to Dubuque over a 65 mile course consisting of basically…your worst nightmare. Triple D is one of the longest running winter bike races in the region and includes categories for xc skiers and trail runners. This circus of events is run by Lance Andre. Lance and I have talked on the phone and traded emails for the last couple of years to eliminate any scheduling conflicts, between our events and chat about fat-bike racing. I totally dig his endless energy and enthusiasm about the sport. So when I made a list of races that I wanted to cover this year, I made sure to add Triple D to the list.
The entire shin-dig is run out of a Best Western Hotel in Dubuque, Iowa. I arrived at race HQ on Saturday afternoon, accompanied by my brewer and current Pugsley World Champion, Colin Ford. We camped out in the lobby and were soon joined by my old friend Noel and the now, world famous, Fattie Lumpkin….the usual madness ensued….chairs were broken….round after round of beers were consumed….. spontaneous wrestling matches erupted (not necessarily in that order). Eventually everyone settled in, some time around 1 am. On Sunday morning we all assembled for the rider meeting and at ten o’clock the racers rolled out of the gate.
Lance leading the racers out onto the course.
The course is very well marked and everyone also gets a detailed set of maps. I picked out a few spots, on the map, where I could stop and take photos of the racers along the way. I threw my bike into my truck and jetted ahead of the pack. On my drive out to the first spot, I noticed how hilly the Dubuque countryside appeared. I found a spot to park the truck and then jumped on the bike to find a spot to get some shots.
Lance out on the course
The course was frozen solid with a little rotten snow, icy patches and frozen turf. Much of what I saw of the course made me realize what a suffer-fest the day would be for the racers.
Jim Zimmerman mugging for the camera
The next photo stop was up at the top of a long climb near Club 21. I could see the riders well down below me riding grassy snowmobile trail along a draw a half mile away. The trail consisted of frost heaved pasture and farm fields at this point. The kind of thing that just sucks the energy out of you.
La Playa del Iowa
I snapped a shot of my friend Andy Oleson at the top of the climb. He told me he had a bad crash on some ice, as he went by. Andy was in 3rd or 4th place at this point. I jumped back in the truck and headed to the first checkpoint at Chad’s Pizza in Dyersville. This is starting to sound like an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I camped outside of Chad’s Pizza and waited for the race leaders to check-in. The first person to check in was Drew Wilson (last year’s winner) followed by AJ Turner, Steve Wasmund, Andy Oleson and then Spinner Ryerson.
AJ’s Race Bike = Larry & Endo on a pretty stock Mukluk
Bike parking outside of the Dyersville Checkpoint
The next checkpoint was located at a bar called the Depot in the tiny hamlet of Durango. When I arrived, The only two bikers there, were Colin Ford and Fattie Lumpkin, who, after learning that there was a $600 open bar tab, set up by the race, had ridden an “out of bounds” route that serendipitously followed the race course backwards to Durango. I found them balanced upon two bar stools with a perfect view of the check-in table. I joined them in an ice cold can of Pabst’s Blue Ribbon Beer and waited to see who would be the first to show. AJ checked in first looking a little wild eyed and needing water. He wisely passed on our offer of beer and whiskey and was out the door very quickly.
AJ Turner in the lead for good
Six minutes after AJ left the checkpoint, Alexander Oenes and Andy Oleson rolled in and grabbed some food and water. We got word that Spinner Ryerson was broken down and that last year’s champ, Drew Wilson, had gotten a flat and fell out of contention. Spinner’s day was ended, when his bottom bracket seized. He joined us at the bar. With only 8 miles left to the finish from the Durango checkpoint, the final results were no surprise.
Alex rolls out with a slice of pizza along with Andy Oleson
Bike parking outside of the Durango Checkpoint
1st Place – AJ Turner
2nd Place – Alex Oenes
3rd Place – Andy Oleson
AJ Turner – 2013 Triple D – Ultrabike Champion
So if you’re looking for a great race that will test your endurance and perhaps give you some idea on how you would do in the Arrowhead 135 or other 100 mile plus races, you should come and take a crack at the Triple D. The race is well run and the group of riders, that are at it’s core are a tight knit family of tough…..tough gauchos. My hat is off to everyone that finished Triple D 2013 and I want to send special thanks to Lance Andre and all of his volunteers for making me feel so welcome.
For more information about Triple D visit http://tripledrace.blogspot.com/