The rest of the story
After the first 14 miles section, which was totally flat. There was about a 20 mile stretch to the Gateway Store that had a few rolling hills. After about five miles I decided that I was too hot, and took off my down jacket. I was cold at first, but once I started moving again I felt just right. Definitely won't be wearing my down jacket unless I'm standing still and it's an emergency situation next year. The sweat on my windproof jacket froze solid. It melted and evaporated after a few miles though.
This is about the point that I started riding with Chris Finch. We had the same pace and it was good to have someone to push me a little bit. About 5 miles before we got to the Gateway store there was a plane flying over head. Dave Gray's Dad and Uncle said they were going to be out taking pictures in a plane at the pre-race meeting. They also said that if anyone mooned them they give em $50. I'll do pretty much anything for money, and this was no exception. They circled back a couple times, and finally got really close on the last pass. I loosened my tights and down they went. I'm still waiting for my $50 guys : ) Maybe Pierre will post that picture on the Arrowhead blog. After I got all my layers back where they belonged we pressed on to the Gateway Store. We pulled in and went inside to get some hot food. They had wild rice soup and sloppy joes. As well as anything you could ever want out in the middle of nowhere. We ate, drank, warmed up and dried out our clothes a little bit. After an hour or so we got back on our bikes and headed down the trail to MelGeorge's resort about 40 miles away. Pat, Jim and Matt Maxwell all passed the store. They figured they could make it to the resort with what they had.
The first 10 or so miles were fast. The trail was packed really well and frozen solid. Then it started to deteriorate the further we got. We stopped about every 20-30 minutes to eat and drink. The sun went down and the cold settled in once again. We stopped at one of the shelters along the trail for a break and checked the map. We figured we had about 15 miles to go. We later found out we were way off, and had 25 miles to go to the resort. We came up on Pat and Jim. They were on the side of the trail taking a break. We stopped and did the same, asking them how they were feeling and how their bikes were doing. They had another flat earlier. What bad luck. Chris and I kept going and left them behind. Then we came upon Matt Maxwell. He was walking and looked pretty beat. He said he had lost all energy and was walking a bit to rest. At this point I figured we had to be getting close. I picked up the pace a little and left Chris and Matt behind. The trail just kept going and going. I thought the lake where MelGeorge's is on would be around the next corner or the next or over that hill. Nope. Just more of the Arrowhead. I started to lose energy and started to get colder and colder. I imagine this is what Matt was feeling earlier. I started walking more and riding less. I came upon a couple riders on the side of the trail. One was in a bivy sack and the other was PJ Ramstack. I said hi and kept going. Then I passed Don Gabrielson. He told me that the guy in the bivy sack was in rough shape and really cold. He told me if I got to the cabin before him to send out the snowmobiles for him. So, I took off and tried to go as fast as I could. I just had no energy at this point and had to start walking. I heard a couple snowmobiles coming up the trail and waved them down. They were the rescue team for the race. I told them what Don had told me and asked how much further to the checkpoint. They said about 4.5 miles. That was a real downer since I had been thinking I was sooo close for over an hour already. They tore off to get the guy in the bivy sack, and I kept pushing my bike. I was getting really cold now and figured I better get my down coat on again. I couldn't get the buckles on my pack to work so I took off my gloves. That was a BIG mistake. I got my coat on, but my hands were so cold I couldn't bend my fingers to pull my gloves on. I pulled my hands inside my sleeves and started to run up and down the trail trying to get them to warm up. After a few minutes of this they were still cold, but PJ and Don were coming down the trail just then. I asked PJ if he could get me a chemical hand warmer pack out of my bag. He did and that did the trick. My hands finally were warm again. Thanks PJ! They went ahead and I kept walking. Eventually I made it to the lake. After you get to the lake you have to ride about a mile across it to MelGeorge's. That was the longest mile of the race. I finally made it to the resort at 11:00pm and went to the cabin to check in. Then I went to the restaurant and had a tasty burger. Matt and Jim were already there. They had gotten picked up by the snowmobiles and just left their bikes out on the trail. Pat stayed out there and made it to the checkpoint around 3:00am. We were pretty worried about him since was alone and hadn't stopped at the Gateway Store earlier. But, he made it and we were sooo glad to see him. It got down to -32 that night. Very cold. Brrrrr. Pat and I were still officially in the race. We went to bed, but decided to call it quits in the morning. My knees were swollen, and I really didn't want to lose any fingers or toes out there. I don't regret my decision one bit. Especially after seeing Pierre come in off the lake in the morning and hearing that he had some pretty serious frostbite on his feet. That's all for my race report. If anyone has any questions, fire away. Until then enjoy the great pictures that Rick took at the Gateway store and MelGeorge's Resort.
What a great event. Everyone involved did a fantastic job. A big thanks to the race organizers, all the volunteers, the fine people at the Gateway Store and MelGeorge's Resort, the sponsors and anyone else I forgot. I can't wait for next year. They say the third time is a charm. Hope to see you all next year!