Two weeks ago I completed my first Dairyland Dare. Dairyland Dare used to be part of the Wisconsin Endurance Triple Crown, and now as a standalone event, offers distances of 50k-300k all to be completed in one day. The catch is where the ride is held; Dodgeville, WI is in the heart of the Driftless Region of Wisconsin offering miles and miles of twisting, turning roads with more climbing than this Southeastern Wisconsinite is used to. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, but I knew that 100k with over 5,000 feet of climbing would be plenty for my first Dare.
The 5-something-AM alarm clock went off and I looked out the hotel room window to be greeted with overcast skies and a heavy mist. My first thought was that I didn’t bring enough gear. Luckily, by the time I had to roll out from the hotel, the mist had mostly cleared out. The skies remained overcast for the duration of the ride, and with cool temperatures and occasional light mist, the weather was actually perfect considering how hot and humid most of the summer has been.
The start of the ride was pretty casual. Dairyland Dare is a ride, not a race, but offers a competitive aspect with a couple sections of the route being timed, almost like an on-road Enduro. Immediately after leaving the starting parking lot, it was up down up down up……..and I’m thinking “oh boy, what did I get myself into?” About an hour into riding I was finally feeling warmed up and was able to keep up pretty well with my friend that talked me into signing up for the ride last Fall. A few guys from Illinois caught up to us at one point and we pace-lined with them for a while, until we hit a hill that I couldn’t keep pace on. It was nice having a group to ride with while it lasted!
By the last third of the ride, some recurring back issues started flaring up for me so it was a tough grind back to the finish. But thanks to the pacing of my friend, we were able to finish the 64 miles and 5100+ feet of climbing in just about 4 hours- slow for him, very good for me! I generally don’t consider myself a climber and with my bad back, I was really happy with the finish time. And somehow I managed to be 5th in the timed segments of the 100k females!
Next year, Dairyland Dare will be part of a Wisconsin Grand Fondo Series and I’m excited to see what other rides they add. I would highly recommend Dairyland Dare, if not for the challenging routes, then definitely for the scenery!
Professional photos: https://www.facebook.com/dairylanddare/app/1459923807587060/?app_data=104
Jessica Helmlinger is a Belgianwerkx sales associate, and category 3 criterium racer for the Belgianwerkx road racing team. She also races cyclocross from time to time for the My Wife Inc. cyclocross team. She is a full time personal trainer and nutritionist and just started her own business called Afterburn Personal Training, doing most of her training out of Anytime Fitness in Cedarburg, WI. See jessicahelmlinger.com for more information.