TRAVELS WITH AN ICON
(scroll down to read PART 1)
Before leaving Check point 1 I had the opportunity to chat with Gerry Grey [I’m not sure if I am spelling his name correctly]. Gerry is the dad of Dave Grey, the engineer at Surly who designed and invented the PUGSLEY. Dave also rode the race and finished ahead of our ICON! Any way, Gerry, as it turned out, was excellent company. He had rented a light aircraft at the start of the race and buzzed the field of racers to get some photos of the action. It also turned out that he was an excellent judge of academic excellence as he was trained for his career as a wildlife biologist and environmental consultant right here in Winnipeg at our very own Delta Marsh research centre. For the techno weenies amongst us his information on the Pugsley development project was priceless. Apparently ,the reason that there was only a rear tire designed for the Pugsley was because the cost of designing a unique tire, for what was initially a pretty small market, far exceeded the cost of the frame and rims. The relatively new LARRY front tire is now proving its worth. Its design resembles the Panaracer dart front tire and its ability to provide directional stability, especially on turns in soft snow, allowed those using it to ride with higher tire pressures and hence a lot less rolling resistance. I persuaded one of the Alaskan riders to let me try their bike, that was equipped with a “Larry”, at the finish of the race and can confirm that it is a MUST BUY for the Pugsley crowd. (Editor’s note: Andy knows what he’s talking about – he owns a Pugsley himself. For more info on the new Larry tire click here).
Anyway, to get back to the race , our diminutive Icon had departed for the hillier section from checkpoint 1 to the halfway point at Mel Georges fishing resort . This section begins to sort out the men from the boys and the women from the girls, so to speak. In 2009 Lindsay had reached the halfway point well after dark, but this year he was anticipating arriving before darkness set in, and true to form he was spotted coming across the lake ice just after 5 oclock, a little over 2 hours behind the leaders and about an hour behind a very impressive woman from Alaska. Even the leaders stopped here for about 35 to 40 minutes, mainly to eat and drink and dry their clothes in the cabin’s very efficient clothes drier. A number of riders stayed for several hours to catch a few ZZeee’s and build their reserves for the very tough final 70 miles or so to the finish. It was when I met him here that Glytch #3 emerged ……. It appeared that the new camelbak substitute had a different mechanism for shutting of the bite valve, in that you had to twist it open and shut on a spiral ridge. By pulling on it our sorrowful Icon had snapped this ridge and allowed the water to drain via the bite valve. The original fill had been of hot water so the effects of the leak went unnoticed for an hour or so but as the water cooled and froze it effectively immobilized his jacket zipper so that he couldn’t get rid of the offending water bag. The water continued to dribble down to his crotch, where it proceeded to form an ever enlarging ostrich egg sized ice appendage with a protruding icicle of impressive dimensions. At this point our sorrowful Icon looked like a diminutive garden gnome as I helped him waddle into the aid station and assisted him in getting out of the jacket by pulling it , frozen zipper and all, over his head and off his right arm, whilst ensuring that he kept his left elbow below his shoulder so that said shoulder remained in its socket (another editor’s note: Lindsay has a chronically dislocating shoulder). I had just completed this tricky manouvre when I was summarily shoved out of the way by the three female volounteers who ran the aid station. Within seconds they had removed all of his frozen clothing, dressed him in his sweat pants and slippers, and whilst two of them cleared all the other racers from the vicinity of the fire, the third plied him with hot soup and other delectable sources of protein and carbs. I was given a bag of soggy and frozen clothes and sent to another cabin where there was an industrial clothes drier and told not to come back until the clothes were dry and warm.
Upon my return a now warm, dry, and well-nourished Icon quickly donned his clothes and set off for the second half of the race where there is only one check point that provides only cold water. Despite the delays whilst his clothes dried Lindsay was back in the race in 90 minutes and moved ahead of the woman from Alaska who departed about 30 minutes after him. I checked my watch as Lindsay disappeared from view and it was 6:50pm. I didn’t expect to see him again for 12 hours as the third check point is purely that, with no indoor facilities for racers or dogsbodies.
I went back inside the cabin to warm up before the drive to the finish and sat with Gerry Grey again. He had told me that his doctor Jim Carrabre was from Winnipeg and I confirmed that I knew him well, as did Lindsay, and that all three of us had competed in XC ski races when Jim was in medical school in Winnipeg. Gerry also spent some time telling me more about his own career as a wildlife biologist, which I found fascinating. At some point he must have twigged that my questions and answers indicated that I knew a bit about the subject and he asked me what I had done for a living. I explained that I was a Prof at the U of W in environmental science, and that I had taught a wide range of courses from “environment and health”, which was popular with the Pre-med students, to courses in Oceanography, climatology , and glaciology. He was curious to know if his doctor [Jim] had taken the Environment and health course from me and I explained that no he hadn’t as I had developed the course after Jim had gone through medical school. Anyway, as I was saying my goodbyes it transpired that the volounteers had been following our conversation in between catering to the needs of the racers who were arriving and leaving at fairly regular intervals. One in particular commenting to another, and for that matter to any one else within ear shot, turned and said with awe……. Isn’t Lindsay amazing, I had no idea that, in addition to running a chain of 7 bike stores across Canada, and entering all of these Xc ski races, adventure races, and bike races, that he was a Professor at a medical school and had taught Gerry’s Doctor. Once again, without Lindsay being aware, our ICON’s reputation and stature had grown by astronomical increments.
PART 3 TO FOLLOW