This is by far the WORST stage stop roller coaster ride we’ve ever been on. Whoever designed this one should be shot. So the hell with the intravenous Dramamine; they’ve now got me hooked up to a Red Bull IV in one arm, Bud Light Limes in the other arm and I’m snorting Dramamine and completely open to trying whatever mind numbing substances come my way.
We woke this morning to -3 degrees Fahrenheit and it only got to about 7 degrees at the parking lot at 7:00AM. There was plenty of snow, but the parking lot was a bit gravely. We chose to go with 10 today as a bigger team may not be of any help in a slug fest. The team was led by Sparrow and Cheyenne and supported by Rocky, Nessa, Utah, Sedona, Puff, Durbin, Harlon and Perry. The team was amped and it all felt and looked good at the starting line. Bruce took off and basically enjoyed about 3 miles of the course, but only on the way out mind you. Those same 3 miles on the way back in were pure agony. At about 4 miles he had a dog come off the tug and start bobbing like she was struggling with a sore front shoulder. He slowed the team down to try and see if the dog would work through it. 10 miles in another dog had decided he had enough of the punchy conditions and started balking. Bruce patiently muddled along, tried a few things and eventually got them going, but slowly. Then at about 16 miles he had another dog come off the tug and at 20 the dog was majorly neck lining and had to be bagged. So in case you lost track; he has one in the bag (the biggest one mind you), he has two others giving 25% and if that weren’t enough he has another take a fall through the punchy snow and comes off the tug hard. The dog kept moving, but it didn’t look good and there was no room in his teeny tiny bag.
So as if he wasn’t having enough fun at this point, Mother Nature decided to heat things up and throw a heat wave his way. The dogs really felt the effects with only 6 dogs working. He finally took the bagged dog out at 3 miles from the finish during a huge climb to give the team a break, which is why it didn’t show that he had bagged a dog. This helped them limp across the finish line to 15th place. We would like to know if there is an award for the team that has successfully been at the top of the pack, the middle of the pack and the back of the pack all in the same race; because I think we’re eligible. The award could be more intravenous coping fluids!
There were others today that did not enjoy themselves. Kate St. Onge had a horrible run. She blew her knee out on some of the punchy moguls and then lost her team. Thankfully, Baily Vitello saved the day and caught the team for her. Unfortunately, she tore some ligaments and is out of the race. Kate, I didn’t see you at the banquet and I just want you to know that “SUCKS”! Take care of that knee and we’ll miss you.
I spent two hours with the dogs tonight massaging them, talking to them, working on their feet and trying to figure out what else I could do to alter our course. Then we sat in the truck and analyzed the entire mess and where we went wrong AGAIN. Aside from the bagged dog, which was a poor strategic choice, all the other dogs were all healthy and came back healthy except the one that took the fall. So it was glaringly apparent that the only thing left and our lesson learned for this Stage Stop is that you need to get to these types of snow conditions if you hope to compete. We have one hell-uv a fast dog team; on fast hard trails. However, IPSSDR rarely if ever has fast, hard trails….. DUH! When we analyzed the competition, every single musher in the top 10 had seen these conditions and trained in them; some for a month or more. We had not. We’ve been told you MUST. Yeah, yeah, yeah….. It’s not that we are slow learners or stubborn or just dense. It basically is just not that easy when most of the country was without snow until mid-January. It’s just not that easy when you are tied to a job that can barely afford to have you leave for the race let alone a month of training. Waaaa Waaaa Waaaaa … We’re not making excuses. It IS what it IS and we did the best we could with the conditions we had and the circumstances we are forced to deal with and it SUCKS! I’m liking that word tonight! The question is how can we overcome this in the future? This remains to be seen as I don’t see our situation changing much and Mother Nature would have to get her act together and provide needed snow by December 1st. Yeah, like that is going to happen.
Alpine is tomorrow. Based on what we saw during training it will be 54 miles with a base and probably a few inches of soft stuff on top. We’re going out there to have fun and see what comes our way.