Mushing Bulletin # 106 – Last Training Run – Pictures

It’s Wednesday of race week. All the long training runs are behind us. In fact, all training runs are behind us. There was some talk of getting a last, short 5-mile run in today but cooler heads prevailed as the temperature went up to about 35 degrees and it started snowing again.

It snowed Monday and early Tuesday to the tune of about 8 inches. The head musher got her last training run in on Monday during the storm. A short run of about 8 miles.

For the images that go with this bulletin, click here.

So now the training is finished and we are entering a period of rest and carbohydrate loading – rest for the dogs, carbohydrate loading for the humans. At last something I’m good at! I’m wondering if this can be adapted to golf as a pre-tournament ritual.

All the dogs are healthy. The Head Musher is healthy and soon to assume the title of the “Oldest Rookie in the 2011 Can-Am”. But far be it from me to mention such an age-related tag.

The One-Man Pit Crew is still recovering from a 50-mile snow mobile excursion on Sunday with Gino during which he (TOMPC) managed not to get lost in the Canadian wilderness but rather got lost directly across the street from the Baisley Lodges and, but for Gino’s intervention, would still be heading, at breakneck speed, for Alberta as we speak. How did he get lost? Well, he distinctly remembers saying to himself “I’ll just slow down for a second and take in the beautiful scenery and then I’ll follow Gino’s tracks back to Baisley.” There is nothing like the sort of confidence that incompetence provides.

Friday is Vet Check Day. We drive to Fort Kent, the site of the race, and all the dogs get the once over by a battalion of vets certified by the Can-Am and various national and international mushing vets associations to determine whether or not the dogs are in racing shape. They check everything: feet, legs, joints, eyes and ears and, of course, heart rate. The vets will be on site throughout the race and several of them will be at the finish line to give the dogs a post-race check. Nobody checks the mushers at the start or finish.

Unfortunately, getting to Fort Kent will involve re-entering our native land and dealing with the U.S. Customs authorities at the Madawaska border crossing. We are contemplating crossing the border at Fort Kent to avoid the 45-minute hassle at Madawaska. Presumably the Fort Kent crossing will be prepared for an onslaught of mushing teams crossing the border for the pre-race activities.

By the way, did I mention the fact that St Jacques is in the Atlantic Time Zone?  This wouldn’t be all that bad but for the fact that it is virtually surrounded by the Eastern Time Zone. If you travel directly north, south or west from St. Jacques you run into the Eastern Time Zone and gain an hour. It is only if you travel directly east that you don’t.  This is because the Atlantic Time Zone is already supposed to be east of the Eastern Time Zone, but sometimes it isn’t.

Now you say to yourself “How can this be?” Didn’t they teach us in grade school that similarly situated things should be treated similarly (i.e., towns on the same longitudinal line should be in the same time zone)? Next thing we’ll find out is that a stitch in time only saves eight. Or, that, when Robert Frost stopped by the woods on a snowy evening, it was raining.

I’m disposed to blaming all this kind of stuff on Al Gore and Dick Cheney. Spread the blame around equally, that’s my motto. If they weren’t up to something nefarious, like screwing with time zones, what were they doing in politics?

So now we have two days of down-time to worry about virtually everything. Plenty of time to pack and re-pack the sled bag – forty or fifty times.

By Saturday the dogs will not have run in five days and will be ready to pull the sled while it is still attached to the car roof.

Meanwhile Gino has decided that I need to wear “carhartt” insulated (bib) jeans to better look the part of a One-Man Pit Crew. (Note: “carhartt” is spelled with a lower case “c”. That’s because people who wear carhartt jeans are up to important stuff and don’t have time to be hitting the shift key to capitalize letters.) Gino just happened to have an extra pair or carhartts and delivered them to the cabin a moment ago. With my RCMP hat, my Cabelas parka, not to mention the Yaser Arafat beard, and now the carhartts on loan from Gino, I’m ready to join the real pit crews and spit chewing tobacco in the snow, if I chewed tobacco, which I don’t.

More later, after the vet check,
The One-Man Pit Crew

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Mushing in Ocean City MD