Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018 was the Poco Frio Rio race – you can participate on snow shoes, cross country skis or fat tire bikes. We went with snow shoes. Living in North Dakota, a person really has to find a way to deal with the cold and long winter. Snow shoeing is a great outdoor activity that gets your heart rate up and is also fun cross training for running or biking. The event takes place at the CCC Campground about 15 miles south of Watford City.
“What does “POCO RIO FRIO” mean anyway? It roughly translates to, “COLD LITTLE RIVER.” What does that have to do with this event? One winter while exploring the North Dakota Badlands on my fatbike, I decided to take a turn off of the Maah Daah Hey onto a frozen creek. It was like I found a doorway into Narnia… the sights and sounds and experience were so unique from what I usually see in the Badlands. After I followed the “POCO RIO FRIO” for a couple miles I discovered that it connected to the Long X trail to make a 4-mile winter wonderland loop. When I have an experience that inspires me and changes me, I like to share it with others, so here we are at the second annual POCO RIO FRIO! Welcome to YOUR cure for cabin fever and my never-ending addiction… BadlaNDs Races!
Winter adventures make for some of the BEST outdoor experiences for many reasons: zero bugs, the beautiful white blanket covering everything, seeing the animal tracks in the snow, the quiet solitude, well earned bragging rights for braving the cold while others are hunkered down indoors.”
All entrants have three loops to choose from:
- 11 mile Poco Loco Loop – earn 10 points per lap on this loop. This is for more advanced racers with over 1,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.
- 4 mile Poco Rio Frio Loop – earn 2 points per lap. This is one mile of the Maah Daah Hey, 2 miles of creek and one mile of the Long X Trail. There is about 400 feet elevation gain and loss.2 mile Land Lover’s Loop – earn 1 point per lap. One mile of the MDH and one mile of the Long X Trail.
All loops are marked with red arrows.
Bring your own fuel and water or stop by the parking area to refuel between laps. Those on foot go clockwise and those on bikes go counterclockwise. Those on foot yield to those on bike. No littering and cheer on everyone you see.
You are responsible for tracking your own points. We hiked the 4 mile twice and one mile once so we ended with 5 marks each. This was actually the third most mileage for snow shoers this day! Pretty good for some flat landers from Hazen who had only gone out a few times to practice. Which ended up being evident as we both ended the day with a few blisters.
The race goes from 8am – 6pm, basically sun up to sundown. We started right at 8 and ended about 11:30am. We were done and hungry. Our loops were great, the weather was about -10 degrees F but no wind and it was actually warm in places with the sun shining. I didn’t even wear my jacket. For sure if it was windy I would have!
We ended our hike in Watford City at Stonehome Brewing for pizza and beer to refuel. This place was awesome. It SO hit the spot after our hike. We shared a buffalo chicken and a chicken artichoke spinach pizza along with their own beers brewed on site.
We went to our hotel to check in afterwards – the Roosevelt Inn was a great host. We took full advantage of the hot tub and sauna to warm up our bones after the hike and before the evening event. At the Rough Rider Center in Watford City that evening the ND Brewers Guild held the ND Beer Fest where we got to sample awesome beers from our home state and enjoy live music. The best part was meeting up with others that did the race. It was quite simply too cold to sit around and chat at the event so it was great to make friends at the beer fest. 100% recommend and would do again. I genuinely appreciate the beer fest on the west side of the state as so much happens on the east side.
Maybe we will try the 11 mile loop next year?