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Arrowhead 135 2013 Summary pt 2

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As has become tradition, below you’ll find the 2nd part of the Arrowhead 135 (2013 edition) summary provided by long time shop part timer Andy Lockery, who accompanied the Winnipeg contingent of participants on their adventure.  For more info on the event in general you can visit the official event site.  You can find part 1 here.  Check back for more soon.

PART 2

THE ICON’S RACE

The storm reached our ICON about 3 hours after leaving Mel George’s. At that point the trail had been firm and fast and 21 hours was still a realistic finishing time. The storm quickly put paid to that idea and our ICON ended up pushing his bike for 27 of the remaining miles in the race. Just a minor inconvenience compared to Alaska last year but still requiring a significant output of energy. At the 100 mile mark and all alone on the trail our ICON achieved his goal of riding 1,000,000 kilometers. Even here the storm had an influence as he had sweated so much that his celebratory pee could only manage a one and a zero followed by a droopy comma. Looking on the bright side almost all of his kilometers have been ridden alone since no one else that I know is daft  dedicated enough to put in that kind of effort so our ICON continued pushily on his way until he reached the final checkpoint at Skipulk only 25 miles from the finish. Just prior to Skipulk Lindsay had caught up to Tim Ek, another of the Duluth DBD superace and a very strong rider with a significant number of gravel grinder race wins to his credit. This was Tim’s first attempt at the Arrowhead and the adverse effects of the storm, coupled with the effort of pushing his bike in the middle of the night when he was soaked to the skin and somewhat tired was causing him to fight an inner battle between his mind and his body where the former was telling him that his was a ridiculous effort and that he should quit the race right now. Our ICON, in the same quiet way as he always speaks, just looked Tim in the eye and said “you can’t quit now, we are only 25 miles from the finish and after 1 more hill it is flat and rideable all the way to the finish. Further more we will stay together the whole way.”  Tim’s wife, who had driven into the checkpoint, looked down at our ICON and said to him “You will look after Tim won’t you?”, to which our Icon blinked his eyes like a miniature owl caught in the glare of a car’s headlights, raised himself to his full height and assured her that he was a man of his word and that no harm would befall her husband whilst he was with him.   In true fairy tale character that is exactly what happened.

After leaving Skipulk the two of them alternated cycling and pushing and as the miles ticked by Tim’s mind gradually calmed down and his strength slowly returned as the finish got closer. About 3 miles from the finish my son Dan caught up to Tim and our ICON. Dan, like his father who is Lindsay’s faithful manservant, is also in servitude to our ICON . He is our ICON’s faithful cat servant and house servant. Any time our ICON and his lovely wife Lynne depart for a few days or weeks of vacation Dan moves in to their home. There is no doubt that Dan’s ability to ride these ultra marathon races and the sleep deprivation they require has greatly improved as a result of this servitude. Our ICON’s 3 cats demand to be fed at 5 am. Failure to rise and serve results in three very large cats taking turns to hurl their bodies against the offending bedroom door until their servant emerges and bows to their wishes.

Returning to the race these three riders happily cruised towards the finish where they dismounted and walked across the line tied for 17th place. For Tim, who is clearly a very strong rider, the storm in combination with our ICON showed him that his body could perform at a much higher level in very challenging conditions despite what his mind thought. Tim will come out of this race as an even tougher and stronger competitor than he already is and this discovery will almost certainly mean that our ICON and Tim won’t get the opportunity to ride together in future Arrowheads as Tim will be challenging the top riders as a result of the knowledge he gained from this race and his brief encounter with our ICON.

Our ICON regarded his final 25 miles of this years race, riding with Tim, as the highlight of his race. Throughout his career he has always enjoyed helping others to share in his passion for cycling and Tim and Lindsay will enjoy a level of friendship and mutual respect that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

I also detected a slight degree of sadness in our ICON’s  mood, and in his conversations with other riders and race officials both before and after the race. In part it stemmed from the fact that he is goal oriented and the 1,000,000 kilometer mark is now completed.  In part it was because this is the last Arrowhead that he will attend as a regular Canadian citizen. Later this spring he turns 65 and will be a card carrying Canadian Senior Citizen or certified Old Fart.  At first glance his results from his 4 races confirm his thoughts…. He was 4th the first time he raced ,10th the second time, 11th the third time, and tied for 17th this time.

However, with his usual ability to discern the true nature of our ICON’s performances, as recorded in the brief and factual race reports that he has provided over the years, his faithful manservant would beg to differ!  His time for the race when he finished 4th was well over 26 hours, when he finished 10th he was under 24 hours, and when he finished 11th he was under 23 hours. This year his time was over 24 hours but the conditions were by far the most challenging of the four events. In other words our ICON is still improving and will continue to do so for many years to come. The fact that more riders are finishing ahead of him is not a reflection of him slowing down but rather the increased popularity of snow bike racing attracting more and more top athletes to the sport, coupled with the greatly enhanced status of the Arrowhead race itself . This year there were nearly 140 competitors from 7 different countries.

So our ICON now is preparing to leave for Alaska where he has some unfinished business. Assuming that he is successful and returns from Alaska having completed the Iditarod and with all body parts intact our ICON will show up at next year’s Arrowhead 135 without his bike. His intent is to ski the race in 2014 and run the race in 2015. There is a special trophy awarded to individuals crazy enough to complete the race in all three disciplines and our ICON is determined to achieve this level of craziness.

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More to come…

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