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  • Writer's pictureJessica Stough

Canicross - Lake Geneva Weekend Trip

"They say life is about winning the rat race, but I prefer to watch my dog run." - Unknown

When I first found out about canicross and went down a rabbit hole online, I found a few fall races in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I realized the races were on Saturday afternoons, and they were only five hours away, so I begged Zac to go with me. I don’t think he was super thrilled about the idea, but he didn’t turn me down. Instead, we came to an alternative decision - I would go with a friend, and he would stay home with the dogs. It seemed like a win-win to me, so I booked the trip!

The race was at 2:30 in the afternoon, so it meant an early start of around 7:00 out of Des Moines would get us to Lake Geneva early enough for packet pickup with time to spare. We had two options for routes, according to Google. We could either go straight over to Illinois, then north into Wisconsin, or we could go up toward Dubuque and skip Illinois altogether. The difference was about thirty-five minutes and a questionable amount of tolls. We figured we would chance the tolls and headed down I-80.

Along the way, we decided that a visit to the World's Largest Truckstop was a must. Both having grown up in Iowa, we each had been there multiple times. Even so, it seemed like a perfectly touristy way to kick off our weekend trip, so we went with it anyway. We bought some overly-priced gas station snacks we didn’t need, let Buzz stretch his legs, then we were back to the road.

A few more hours later, we rolled into Lake Geneva and headed straight to Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures, the beautiful location for our race. We scoped out the place, then realized that we were a little too prompt and had additional time to spare before the packet pickup. We didn’t have enough time to do anything big, so we settled on adventuring in their local Dollar General. I may or may not have found some snacks for later.

Then, we headed back toward Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures. As we waited for packet pickup, we noticed the multitude of options for adventures there:

  • Ziplining

  • High ropes courses

  • Climbing tower

  • Hiking

  • Mountain biking

Not only was it an excellent place for a canicross event, but it was also a perfect place for those that live for adventure. It was definitely my kind of place.

I got my packet, and that was when all of the other dogs started rolling in with their owners. I found myself scoping out the competition for Buzz rather than myself, which was an odd change from my normal pre-run thoughts. Oh, I thought, that dog looks pretty fast. Well, that dog looks like he couldn’t keep up. He’s got nothing on Buzz …

The race director had spotted us on a short walk - I was trying to get Buzz to poop pre-race (if you’re a runner, you know what I’m talking about 💩). It was during that conversation that he found out we had bussed our way out five hours just to join in on this race.

Finally, it was time for the race to start. When people were lining up, the race director asked for everyone from Iowa to raise their hands. Mischa and I were the only two (aside from one guy, who said that he was born in Iowa, but now lived very close to the event). He then asked for anyone not from Wisconsin or Illinois to raise their hands - no one did. We were the only two from further away than an hour or so.

The race director explained the course, then said something about “Ready, set, go.” I had been too distracted by all the dogs and how Buzz was greeting them, and had nearly missed what he said. Then, I realized he was telling me to lead the race, and give the official “Ready, set, go.” How cool!

I hollered the starting words, and we were off. Buzz was hot out of the gate (wonder where he gets it from), and once we hit the single tracks, we were third. The second there was a place to pass, someone flew around all three of us, and Buzz and I followed close behind. It was when that runner continued to gain speed that Buzz then became distracted with the dogs behind us. That is how we ended up remaining with those two people we had just passed nearly the rest of the race - I realized quickly that Buzz needed a dog to follow close behind or he got distracted and would start sniffing around.

By the end of the first lap, the man who had said he was born in Iowa was talking up a storm about how impressed he was with Buzz, his speed, and the way he was able to “keep pace.” His Husky seemed unimpressed.

We ran a second lap, I tried out some of the homemade soup they were serving, then we headed to our hotel to freshen up and plan for the rest of the evening.

Our hotel, The Ridge, was absolutely gorgeous. We didn’t spend much time there, but quickly found out they had multiple dining locations on-site, yoga, a spa, and other awesome amenities. I even found online that they offer an Igloo Experience, which looks incredible for winter.

After much deliberation (and a few realizations of recently closed businesses), we finally decided to eat dinner at FLAT IRON TAP. It absolutely did not disappoint. Their beef was al grass-fed, “farm-to-table.” Their french fries were delicious and perfectly seasoned. Their drink menu was creative and delicious. It was an all-around great place to eat.

Although I didn’t get to grab any pictures of it, FLAT IRON TAP was close to the lake’s edge. The town had already put up Christmas lights, and they were beautifully reflecting in the lake’s water as we walked to and from our vehicle. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel.

Sunday morning, we decided to try coffee at Niche. We drove there, only to realize it was recently closed as well. It wasn't all bad, though, because I actually saw my very first all-black squirrel on the way there!

On a whim, after having to change courses, we decided to go to Avant Cycle Cafe. This place was so cool. Their coffee was delicious, they served breakfast foods, and they also serviced and sold bikes. Their motto was “Drink coffee, ride bikes.”

Finally, we headed out to do some exploring along main street. We are early enough risers that by the time we reached the main street, the local shops were still not open. Although we didn’t have time to do much shopping (mostly because we didn't want to hang out for hours for the stores to open), we did enjoy reviewing their Holiday Window Display ideas.

After that, we were on our way back to Iowa. I made some stops along the way (we tried the non-poll way back home). I tried to stop at historical sites and other things that seemed interesting. We found a few historical sites, but otherwise only pretty much stopped for gas or snacks.

All in all, it was a great weekend. The race was great, the people were better, and the company that tagged along with me on the journey was even better yet. I am so thankful we got a chance to head north for an adventure in mid-November, all with decent weather. Now, it's time for me to start researching our next adventures.

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