One thing at all times appears to be ‘cracking’ round 1993 Pipestone Excessive College graduate Pete Hansen.
Definitely, that checks out, as Hansen lives with the sound of drum sticks cracking skins because the Director of the percussion academy Groove Inc. in Sioux Falls, S.D. – the place he resides along with his spouse Sarah and their 4 youngsters.
Nonetheless, as an journey bicyclist Hansen usually seems to be the conduit for even louder, and positively extra alarming resonance, whether or not coming from the crunching of ice on a desolate stretch of the Iditarod Path Invitational (350) bike race in Alaska or the cracking of skulls between a pair of rejected male buffalo throughout mating season within the Badlands of South Dakota on his most up-to-date trek – the 2020 Trans South Dakota Race.
Not solely did Hansen draw such curious cacophony to himself throughout the TSDR that started July 18 on the Buffalo Leap Steakhouse in Beulah Wyo. (elev. 3,500 toes), but in addition his new pal and using accomplice Petr Ineman acquired a style of what it’s prefer to be across the bravado of the seemingly hell-bent bullseye.
“We have been virtually to Blunt (S.D.), making an attempt to remain forward of a storm, and Petr says, ‘hey Pete, you suppose we should always cease?’” defined the 46-year-old Hansen, roughly 335 miles into the 714-mile cross-state journey. “‘Nah, let’s hold going.’”
Seconds later the pair have been nearly engulfed by a lightning strike that had the cyclists tingling for hours.
“It was a crash and a blinding mild in entrance of us,” mentioned Hansen.
Ineman disagreed, “No, is was simply behind us.”
“Oh man, we have been within the lightning bolt!” Hansen provided. “It was like that scene in Star Wars the place they’re preventing and the man has electrical energy popping out of his fingers. Our fingers have been completely tingling, and the one two issues Petr, who has summited Denali (elev. 20,310 toes) twice and received the ITI 1,000, is afraid of are lightning and snakes… and he says, ‘ought to we cease now?’”
Whereas only a snippet of the huge expertise they shared over the course of 4 days, 5 hours and 17 minutes between Beulah and North Sioux Metropolis, Iowa that positioned them in a tie for third place behind winner James Meyer (3 days, 5 hours, 5 min, 50 sec) and runner-up Stan Prutz (4 days, 1 hour, 33 min.), the episode proved one of many defining moments of their race – serving to them develop a friendship that will ultimately result in extra grandiose floor plans.
Having competed within the TSDR twice earlier than, Hansen realized a lot for his prior treks. So, regardless of getting his regular, sporadic pre-race slumber (perhaps 4 hours) the Friday earlier than assembly on the beginning line in Beulah, Hansen had banked a number of hours of sleep days earlier than his third, completely self-contained TSDR that featured a discipline of twenty-two cyclists.
“There’s three races inside the TSDR, a 60-mile race to Lead S.D., a midway race to Pierre, S.D. (360 mile) that ends after the river crossing and the complete race which matches all the way in which to North Sioux Metropolis,” defined Hansen, the oldest of Dennis and Diane Hansen’s two boys. “And there’s totally different sorts of racers of various ages, but it surely’s not a race like RAGBREI (annual race throughout Iowa) the place, perhaps, you’re going 4-5 hours on bikes a day and the opposite hours are spent consuming, consuming and socializing. You’re making an attempt to get throughout South Dakota as quick as humanly potential. And to make it extra fascinating, you’re occurring gravel ‘B’ roads many of the method… suppose there’s solely 10 miles of paved street throughout the complete race. They’re not even typical ‘B’ roads, the kind raised up four-wheelers would get 50 toes into and again up – ‘not value it.’”
And the race hits the sector with a sucker punch off the beginning line, ascending greater than 3,000 miles, from Beulah to Cement Ridge Lookout (6,647) over the preliminary 22 miles of the course.
Starting with half as a lot weight, 45 kilos absolutely loaded on his Salsa Journeyman, in comparison with his first TSDR on a Fats Bike (110 kilos), Hansen, Ineman and Meyer rapidly distance themselves from the remainder of the sector. Inside quarter-hour the trio are nicely out in entrance.
“We’re cruising uphill and everybody else is falling again,” Hansen mentioned. “James, who grew up in Spearfish after which went out to Colorado to race mountain bikes is simply tearing it up.”
After the unimaginable climb up the primary part, the course ultimately flattens out to a single-track stretch of 7-8 miles of paved street transferring towards Terry Peak earlier than ascending for a brief distance up a steep, gravel logging street utilized by mining firms.
“It’s probably the most brutal sections of the course; it’s not lengthy, however as a result of a twister had worn out 40-50 bushes, you needed to carry bike your up 3-4 toes to go over every,” Hansen mentioned. “It positively added an hour-and-a-half to you ascent – simply. It was insane. You get carried out with the climb as much as Terry Peak and also you head down, over the northeast aspect.”
Due to the twister, Meyer – who grew up within the space and knew the terrain – had provided his providers in rerouting the race – and, although Hansen thought it possible gave him an unfair benefit, Meyer was nowhere to be seen thereafter.
Once more, having realized from earlier TSDR experiences, Hansen took the descent in stride.
“It places you down this previous, deserted river mattress with rocks the scale of grapefruits or human heads,” he mentioned. “You’re flying down and due to the free rock your physique takes this unimaginable pounding; final yr I may really feel each rock in my palms… suppose I acquired the sensation again in them round Christmas time. It’s solely a three-mile stretch but it surely’s fixed pounding and also you’re holding the brakes the complete time. This yr I practiced a pair occasions with decrease strain in my tires and it took method much less time.”
From there, the course takes the racers on to Lead (57 miles). Then it’s the Mickelson path.
“Petr and I attempted to stick with James, however he took off and we form of determined to go collectively,” Hansen mentioned. “We have been in about 4-5th place at that time, however any person stopped to have a slice (pizza), one other dropped off, and by time we get into Lead we’re in second and third; when you’re in Lead the exhausting a part of the race is over.”
Or in order that they thought.
Though feeling assured at this level, Hansen engaged in a observe few, if any, racers make use of throughout an endurance race.
“At that time it felt like trip in comparison with the climb and the rocky descent, so I converted to flip flops,” he mentioned. “Everyone offers me crap about it, however you must give your toes a break otherwise you’ll get ‘foot burn.’ I’ve these pedals which might be flat on one aspect and clipped on the opposite, so I’ll do this for eight hours if I can and get out of my bike sneakers. It was by means of the Mickelson path and on to Hill Metropolis, the place Petr and I actually bonded. We acquired some sandwiches and talked and ready for a loopy stretch uphill.
“It’s a must to carry your bike ¾ of a mile and should you didn’t have a pc (course tracker) you wouldn’t know the place you have been; it’s so steep and, at evening you’d hear all these unusual animal noises and different issues, however this time it was mild, so it was a cakewalk. Fairly quickly you’re at Mount Rushmore.”
From the sculptured mountain face (5,725 toes) within the Black Hills the racers head towards Hermosa (3,327 toes), the aim for many over the course of the primary day.
“That’s the aim and leaving the Black Hills you get out of bushes,” Hansen mentioned. “ It goes fairly flat from there and it turns into fairly dry… see some very Badland-esque sorts of issues. Getting there the primary evening is fairly thrilling, but it surely leaves you with a alternative. Do you get some sleep and go by means of the following 90 miles within the solar and the warmth or do you do the insane, eat and take off instantly – crossing the Badlands at evening? I had no intention of stopping as a result of I didn’t the yr earlier than. Petr is fairly drained, so we spend 15 bucks to have a bathe – the very best cash you possibly can spend – slam a espresso and take off to cross the Badlands.”
The close to noiseless evening journey throughout the Badlands, from Hermosa to Philip (approx. 65 miles), didn’t afford the pair an opportunity to soak up the scenic marvel of the world, and the quiet rumble of rubber tire on gravel was quickly interrupted by one other clamorous ‘crack.’
“We’re going by means of this, about, eight-mile stretch of scenic byway between 10-2 a.m.,” Hansen defined. “We’re biking in whole silence, solely listening to our peddling. Simply off the street you hear puffing, snorting and grunting…, ‘what’s that?’ I flip my mild over and I see two buffalo ramming heads, rejected males, they usually’re not comfortable. I don’t make eye contact and hold transferring quietly away – proper as a badger crosses our path, trying as if he’s saying, ‘if the buffalo doesn’t get you I’ll.’”
Between Hermosa and Philip, the racers have the chance to take a break at Wall and maybe get a lodge for the remaining hours of dawn. Sadly, attributable to COVID, Wall is a who’s-who of vacationers from states far and vast – relegating Hansen and Ineman to a park as a makeshift campsite.
“It’s about 4 a.m. and the solar is simply developing; Petr units up his sleeping bag on a picnic desk and I’m laying right down to get some sleep on the cement,” Hansen mentioned. “About 8 a.m. a mother and her two youngsters are out and enjoying within the close by skate park, and that’s the top of that. We pack up and head in the direction of Philip.”
Hansen and Ineman journey one other 40 miles earlier than getting a well-deserved respite in Philip. They sleep for about 3 ½ hours throughout the warmth of the day, rise up and get some meals of their our bodies earlier than taking off as soon as once more with sights set on Pierre.
“We do this in about 7 ½ hours, going 13-14 miles an hour, the quickest I’ve ever carried out it,” Hansen mentioned. “We had some sleep in Wall and Philip and we’re feeling fairly good and get there about 2 a.m. We’ve got to go six miles as much as the dam in Pierre since you don’t go straight throughout the river. It’s a must to take a ship, paddle down river and get off on the opposite aspect close to the street bridge.
“The rule is you possibly can’t cross at evening, can’t cross till dawn (6 a.m.). James acquired there whereas it was nonetheless mild, so he crosses. Birk McGilvrey (4th place: 4 days, 12 hours, 57 minutes) is there earlier than us, however couldn’t cross till the following morning and Stan (Prutz, runner-up: 4 days, 1 hour, 33 min.) pulls in at midnight.”
Previous to the 2020 race, TSDR organizer Joe Stiller had bought all however certainly one of his boats in making a cope with a nationally acknowledged journey purveyor for brand spanking new boats. Having hassle getting supplies to fill the order… nonetheless, one week earlier than the race, the corporate guarantees to have them prepared. The evening earlier than the guarantees remained unfulfilled, and… the following morning they’re not answering the telephones – leaving the racers with simply certainly one of Stiller’s unique boats.
“There have been purported to be 5 boats; James is gone, Stan is promised the second crossing and we slept solely 2-3 hours as a result of we thought we’d get on a ship at 6 a.m.,” Hansen mentioned. “Birk crosses and we’re nonetheless caught. If we take the street bridge it’s a 14-hour penalty, so we wait. By the point we get to cross it’s 2 p.m… caught in Pierre for 12 hours, however there was nothing we may do about it.”
Discouraged by having to attend, Hansen and Ineman hope to make up time crossing the flats between Pierre (checkpoint #1, finish of the dash race) and Mitchell (checkpoint #2) that carry them by means of Blunt and Wessington Springs. After enduring the lightning close to Blunt, discouraged was maybe the very best they may muster on a day filled with storms and soaking rain that left the pair mired within the muck.
“We needed to undergo this clay, muddy rubbish, and actually a three-mile stretch took us 1 ½ – 1 hour, 45 minutes – pushing our bikes by means of sludge,” Hansen mentioned. “Each 10 steps you needed to take your fingers and pull mud out of your fork. By the top of it, between the rain and the lightning, we have been utterly demoralized. Happily, we discovered a hose to spray off our bikes, and we heard we weren’t the one ones to be saved by it.
“I known as Sarah, instructed her how ridiculous it was and knew we nonetheless had 50 miles of racing to do earlier than we acquired to a city. “We thought we have been 30 miles from Wessington Springs, however truly we have been 45 miles away. It was a string of about 4 or 5 horrible issues, and we have been beside ourselves. Petr was capable of get my bike working and I’m undecided if I’m comfortable or not about it as a result of the following 5 hours was among the most torturous, exhausted biking we’d ever carried out.”
Touring the now mushy, and spongy roads the place they’d often go at a clip of 8-9 miles an hour, their three-hour journey turns into 5-7 hours earlier than attending to Wessington Springs.
“We’re shells of males,” Hansen recollects. “Some truckers are sitting at a desk on the gasoline station… and a man asks us, ‘the place are you headed?’ Sioux Metropolis. ‘What… the place are you coming from?’ Beulah. ‘What, are you insane?’ Sure!
“We regarded horrible, we’re able to give up at mud crossing and now at Wessington Springs I’m trying like Frodo after getting back from Center Earth. The man says, ‘nicely, I hope you’re having enjoyable.’ Petr goes off and comes again with two beers, which completely calms me down. We get a lodge room and get some relaxation, however at that time I might have needed to really feel higher to die.”
Ineman, who paradoxically speaks of Hansen as being a brilliant humorous and ‘constructive’ man, wakes up his racing companion after 4 hours and says, ‘let’s get going.’
“We’re not going,” replied Hansen. “As a result of after we do, we’re going to the top (end line).”
The pair, which possible had a complete of 14 hours of sleep throughout their complete journey, get yet one more hour earlier than gearing up for the ultimate 220 miles that will take them by means of Mitchell and on to Sioux Metropolis.
“I had contemplated not racing after that part earlier than Wessington Springs, however I acquired some sleep and knew I used to be simply being an enormous child,” Hansen mentioned. “We headed out for Mitchell and it was the very best a part of journey. We have been refreshed, cruising on some paved street, going 20 occasions quicker, and feeling good as we moved towards one other examine level.”
Whereas the smoother part provided their our bodies a momentary reprieve, it additionally allowed the pair extra alternative for dialog and exchanges of philosophy.
“I didn’t know a lot about Pete; we’d met a number of occasions previous to the South Dakota race and we’d met in Alaska earlier than Iditarod,” mentioned Ineman, a 42-year-old native of the Czech Republic who at the moment lives exterior of Chicago. “We additionally noticed one another at some gravel rides just like the Almanzo in Minnesota, however I didn’t know him very nicely.
“After this I felt like I knew him for hundreds of years. We simply clicked. Driving with somebody often doesn’t work, you possibly can’t even plan one thing like that, however we clicked and had numerous enjoyable using collectively – speaking and sharing tales.”
Which might make a particularly arduous journey… joyful.
“It does; I can do solo rides, however I take pleasure in sharing the journey with any person else,” Ineman help. “Although we came upon we have now totally different existence, we discovered many similarities too – particularly in what we prefer to eat and drink whereas using.”
At every checkpoint of the TSDR racers have their image taken and obtain one part of a three-part medal. In Mitchell, Hansen and Ineman picked up the second a part of their reward and… have one other beer.
“We resolve to get a beer at each gasoline station the remainder of the way in which as a result of it makes us happier and fewer annoyed,” Hansen declared. “We bike all the way in which right down to the colonies, Skunk Creek on Huge Sioux River… roll into Menno they usually’re closed. We make the crossing to Viborg with little to eat, however we all know we’re 20 miles from Truck Towne (Plaza) in Beresford… positively our aim. We’re about eight miles away and it’s getting chilly out . Our our bodies are beginning to shiver by this time and we’re exhausted. We discover a church and a cement slab to get a relaxation… keep about half-hour, but it surely felt like 30 seconds and the temperature drops much more… we gotta go.”
Two hours out, Hansen and Ineman lastly make it to Beresford – practically as grateful as they have been arriving in Wessington Springs.
‘We’re sitting there consuming and consuming and these farmers are asking the place we’re coming from,” Hansen mentioned. “Beulah, Wyo. ‘Are you loopy?’ Sure, however that’s not the loopy half… we left on Saturday!”
The pair go to sleep for 20 minutes and wake drooling, with no farmers in sight. They rapidly get fueled up and get again on the path.
Once more, they hit the surprising, a stretch of freshly laid gravel that slows their tempo from what would have been 15-16 miles-an-hour (30 downhill) to a mere 4-5-miles-an-hour (9-10 downhill) simply three days prior.
However, they’re shut.
“It was a horribly brutal final part on that flat stretch; we’re 20 miles away and we eat our final sandwiches,” Hansen says. “We simply weren’t psychologically ready for that… we get to the final flip, which turns right into a paved street, roll in (North Sioux Metropolis) and… full pleasure!
“Petr having carried out the ITI is used to being form of underwhelmed. It’s often a very long time between the second and third-place racers coming throughout the end line in that race, so nobody is there that will help you have a good time.”
Understanding this, Hansen had phoned forward to his spouse to convey celebratory provisions, together with particular beer, Puerto Rican rum and cigars to be shared whereas lounging in camp chairs and footstools.
“It the very best factor ever, to place your toes up after one thing like that,” he mentioned. “Sarah introduced us beef sticks from Babcock’s Meats (Alton, Iowa), the very best ever, and he or she had my cowboy hat ready for me.
“We began sharing tales with among the others , feeling like kings; we get our medals and Petr says, ‘that is all the things the ITI was not for me! Thanks.’ We actually bonded throughout the race.”
A lot in order that Ineman promptly requested Hansen if they may race the 2021 ITI 1,000 collectively in February.
“Through the race Petr requested me after I was coming again to Alaska,” Hansen mentioned. “Most individuals who do the 350 efficiently, which is the qualifier for the 1,000, come again for the 1,000, however I’ve 4 youngsters and must be gone for month-and-a-half – to not point out the cash ($20,000 for expenditures) and the danger.”
That’s the place Ineman and his experience in finishing the ITI 1,000 helped shine some mild on the unthinkable.
“He wasn’t positive he may do it, however throughout this race we talked and I wished to supply my help and information in doing it,” Ineman mentioned. “It made it a bit extra mentally comforting to know I’d be with him. I’d already carried out it, and I feel that made the choice simpler for everybody.”
Ultimately after speaking it over along with his household, Sarah got here again and gave Hansen the ‘inexperienced mild’ for the 2021 ITI.
“I didn’t wish to strain him/them, however the way forward for the race is doubtful due to the canine sledding race,” mentioned the 2020 ITI 1,000 (tie) males’s bike champion (22 days, 7 hours, half-hour) “They’ve had some hardship with that race these days, the previous few years, and with out it the human-powered races in all probability aren’t potential. I instructed him, ‘let’s do it when you can, don’t put it off as a result of it may not be occurring once more. I hope I’m flawed, however you by no means know.
“I actually hope we are able to make it work; it’s exhausting to plan a journey with any person, particularly on such a protracted race, however I’m hoping we’ll have the ability to do it and have enjoyable like we did in South Dakota.”
And along with his household’s blessing, Hansen hopes to roll their bonding TSDR expertise proper into the ITI 1,000.
“After a couple of week, and speaking it over with Sarah and the boys, it’s a go; let’s go for it,” mentioned Hansen, who as soon as cursed his 350-mile journey from Anchorage to McGrath. “The 1,000 miles to Nome could be unimaginable. This yr is the southern route, which Petr says is a bit simpler so… why not? Let’s go for it!”