Dé Máirt 22 Nollaig 2009

Alaska Ultrasport Day off....

continued from the report of my retreat from Rainy Pass: http://seansalach.blogspot.com/2009/12/alaska-ultrasport-2009-rainy-pass.html

When I had walked in the previous night, I couldn’t be bothered with my sleeping bag. I managed to wrestle my sleeping pad off the bike, throw it down on the floor, and simply lay down and pass out. I was a little chilly when I woke, a little depressed, a lot disappointed. My calves were inflexible blocks of wood. I couldn't really feel the floor under my battered feet. The day dragged by, and I tried to distract myself with conversation. There was going to be one flight out today, and the out of towners with flights to make had dibbs on it. So it looked like another night in the cabin for me before my @$500 flight out the next day. I ended up having to do some translation explaining to Marco that despite scratching, he had been disqualified anyway for having snowmachine support following him on the trail, and for another particular incident that to be honest, he should have been shot for, and the details of which I’m not going to repeat. I knew something was fishy when he seemed to be doing the entire trip with only two uninsulated water bottles mounted to his frame. We had spent a little bit of time together on the course, and had developed a little bit of a bond, but that bond was easily broken in the light of his shady behavior.

Bill and his snowmachine had been extricated from the pass at some point in the day, and he had some great tales to tell. The conditions that made me turn and run the previous day were child’s play compared to the mess that everyone in front of me had soldiered through. The fact that Bill had been able to make it back, and the knowledge that I really didn’t have it so bad, made me want to head back out there. The fact that I had conceded to scratching, and that the price of other people’s airfare was dependent upon my presence on the same flight made me hold back and accept my decision.

Then it happened. I don’t remember who arrived first, but the last two racers on the course, George Azarius and Roger Leavesly arrived at the cabin some time that afternoon. They were two days behind my arrival at Puntilla Lake, but they were determined and steadfast in their desire to press on. Their enthusiasm was contagious beyond belief. I WANTED back in. I knew I could make it over if I just did what Eric had told me to on the first attempt and stuck together with someone. The arrival of George and Roger represented my last chance to redeem myself. I knew that this was it. I was either with them, or taking my sorry ass back to Palmer. I spoke to the other remaining scratchers and expressed my concern at sticking them with a higher airfare. They assured me it was their burden to bear and that if I could go on, I should.

I checked with Bill, and he told me to go, that I was still in the race if I wanted to be. It was well beyond wanting at that point. My heart was racing with excitement at the chance.

Myself, Roger, George and the departing racers pooled all of our food and divided it up amongst ourselves. We pledged to stick together to Rohn, no matter what. To stop if one of us needed to, no matter what. We were three in one till we got safely over that pass.

We treated ourselves to dinner in the lodge. The plan was a 2AM wakeup and subsequent departure. After dinner, we shared a few swiggs of Bill’s peppermint Schnapps to fortify ourselves and had a little bit of a chuckle at the legend snoring soundly on the floor of the cabin on the thickest thermarest I’ve ever seen.

It took me a while to get to sleep I was so giddy with anticipation.

Above is the checkpoint cabin at Rainy Pass lodge surrounded by the bikes of(from L to R): Bill Dent, Marco Costa, George Azarius(obscuring Alberto Villaverde's bike), Rob May, Myself, and Catherine Shenk with Savino Musicco's pulk and Roger Leavesly's pulk out of frame.

I press on in the next chapter: http://seansalach.blogspot.com/2009/12/09-alaska-ultrasport-rainy-pass-attack.html

1 comment:

Michael O'Hara said...

Man, I'm glad you stuck in there and didn't scratch! Bet you are too.