SPEARFISH – Ardan Fischer of Spearfish became the youngest rider to complete the Dakota Five-O mountain bike race two years after setting that goal.
8-year-old Fischer completed the 50 mile mountain bike race in 9 hours, 21 minutes and 17 seconds. A total of 588 runners completed the course; he finished 551st overall.
This marked the 21st year of the Dakota Five-O. Race co-creator Kristi Jewett said that as far as is known, Fischer is the youngest runner to complete this event.
Bodhi Linde of Rapid City was 9 when he finished the 2018 race.
Ardan was 6 when he attended the 2019 race. The youngest and oldest runners were announced that year with the youngest being 10 years old.
“He (Ardan) told me at the park that he wanted to train for it. He wanted to be the youngest to ever ride it, ”said his mother Ashleigh Fischer.
Fischer is in his third grade at Creekside Elementary School. His father Alan finished the Dakota Five-O and enjoyed it, which also helped spark Ardan’s interest.
The training started two years ago. Ardan attempted to complete the course in October 2020 but was unable to complete it.
“It gave him more encouragement to continue training this year,” said Ashleigh Fischer of an effort that found him on a bike for 13 hours.
Darkness forced Ardan and Alan to stop after descending Dakota Ridge.
“I just wanted to finish the race,” Fischer said when asked about his goals for this year’s Dakota Five-O. He rode a Fuel EX Junior racing bike.
The Dakota Ridge area initially posed the biggest challenge for young people. He said, upon reflection, that it was the bridges in the Tinton Road area towards the end of the race that were the most difficult for him.
The runners had to reach the halfway point at a certain time. Ardan and Alan had been to various points more than once, so they knew how long it would take them to get to those stages.
“He arrived at Ball Park (Higgins Gulch First Aid Station at mile 15) and they were half an hour ahead of schedule,” said Ashleigh Fischer. “He was really excited at the time. “
Ardan reached Old Baldy (first aid station at mile 27) about a mile before Alan. Ardan reached this site approximately one hour before the deadline.
“With her training it was going to be very tight,” said Ashleigh. “He knew it, so he went to great lengths to get to the cut-off.”
The official cut-off time for Old Baldy this year was 1 hour and 45 minutes for the fifth wave of bikers. They left the starting line at 7.40 a.m.
It was estimated that Ardan needed three hours to get from the city park to the back of Higgins Gulch via Dakota Ridge. He reached this site in 2.5 hours.
Alan helped Ardan and encouraged him to finish the race. He also encouraged his son and kept him updated.
“We did the same up to the Old Baldy Loop,” said Ardan. “Then he sort of slowed down and told me to take off.”
Ashleigh said the plan was for the two to ride together. She added that Alan couldn’t leave and that Ardan had to leave in order to keep up with his pace.
“He knows every step of the way,” Ashley said of Ardan. “He did the 26-38 kilometers on his own until his father could recover and catch up with him.”
“I really liked it when everyone helped me out so I could get to the end,” said Ardan. He added that some stopped at the aid station to assist him.
The bike issues were at a minimum for Fischer, who said the only difficulty he had was not being able to activate his suspension.
Ardan felt a bit uncomfortable and intimidated at the start against much older riders. He said that changed when he saw other people he had passed.
“I was riding with friends that I made at Sturgis races this year,” said Ardan.
Ardan was asked what it was like to reach his goal of being the youngest rider in this event. “Much better than I felt a few years ago,” he said.
Ashleigh recalled that her classmates, friends and teachers applauded Ardan along the way.
“Everyone knows it hurts my ears a lot,” said Ardan, recalling the atmosphere at the finish line. It was because of the cheers and cowbells ringing when a runner finishes the race. The Fischers live across the highway in Spearfish. Ardan’s training two weeks before the Dakota Five-O consisted of 20 laps, 10 miles in total, around a neighborhood that includes a hill.
Cycling was not the only training Ardan received. He also participates in ju-jitsu, which he says helps him with the strength of his arms and legs.
“We also have this Workout Challenge, which consists of three 20-minute workouts,” Ardan said.
Ardan is a regular on the mountain bike circuit in the region. He has participated in all the Sturgis races, the Fat Classic and many other events where he has been able to surpass himself for this year.
“It’s just fun to be outside even when it’s late at night,” Ardan said when asked what he liked most about the bike. “It’s really relaxing when you’re outside for a while.”
What would Ardan like to do differently for next year’s Dakota Five-O? “I would try to go faster on the descents and use less brakes,” he said.
He definitely plans to take part in the Dakota Five-O next year, with the goal of finishing a trio. This includes the 28 Below fatbike race in March, Gravel Grinder in June and Dakota Five-O, all in one year.
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