Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Saturday was the TRDMA Valley Funale, the last TRDMA event of the year. It included a 6-dog fun race in which I ran my team. Due to a bit of confusion I ended up turning a 10 mile race into a nearly 12 mile race (oops), but we nonetheless had a GREAT time.
My team for this race was;
Just and Amazing Grace (Lead)
Rose and Nels (Team)
Seamus and Beau (Wheel)
I was running my traditional wooden basket sled. With it's six-foot bed it got a lot of attention, especially from other "traditional" mushers. I was surprised by the number of compliments I received on it.
Anyhow - the race is on trails that are in Just's back yard, the same trails we train on when training out of Lynn O's yard. That added a bit to the confusion.
We were sailing down Pleasant Valley, barely in control when I saw trail markers on the left. Since a trail marker on the left means "turn left" I called for the "haw". That's when I saw more trail markers on down the PV Rd extension, but it was too late. Just had committed to the turn and now amount of cajoling on my part or tugging on Grace's would change his mind. He's a very resolute sort of dog.
Just doesn't know a "haw back" or "come haw" cue, and Grace isn't yet confident enough to try to force the issue, so we ended up making a long detour to get back onto the race course. When we finally got back to PV Rd. Just wanted to go home to his Auntie Lynn's, so ignored my "haw" cue and tried to go "gee" instead.
Again, Grace wasn't confident enough to try to push him over and there wasn't enough grip to the snow on this side road for me to trust a hook to go up and show him the error of his ways. Fortunately another musher (the last of us) came trotting past at an opportune moment. Just turned to chase and we were back in the running.
The rest of the run was delightful. The weather was beautiful. The trails were a bit punchy and slow but I knew from the beginning that I was a red lantern contender, so I didn't push the issue, I let the team set the pace while I enjoyed the scenery. A stretch along the river offers a lot of twists and turns in tight quarters, and on that basket sled it was just a heck of a lot of fun to drive through.
We finally got back to the start/finish line, and since I had rejoined the proper trail in a proper manner (no shortcuts) I qualified for a time.
I don't get to add a red lantern to my collection, though. It seems another musher got much more lost than I, and finally came straggling back after 3 hours on the trail.
I snacked and watered my dogs, and then wandered over the community pot luck to feed myself. It was DELIGHTFUL. We have some seriously good cooks here in Two Rivers.
Seamus is Famous
After the one and two-dog kids races (always fun to watch), Seamus earned a place in the annals of Two Rivers Sled Dog Fame in the "Greedy Dog Contest". It was close at first, but the big yellow dog prevailed.
The Greedy Dog contest is a race to see which dog can eat a bowl of kibble the fastest. There were two heats and then a final. Bill Greenslade and his "Stubby" were struttin' their stuff and talkin' trash. When he asked if I would wager a beer on the outcome I didn't hesitate. My boy Seamus loves his grub. So does Stubby.
Val Mackler, the race judge, carefully measured out equal portions of soaked kibble. Two full scoops of 'the good stuff', more than a full meal for any respectable sled dog.
On her signal, specially selected handlers shoved the bowls under the drooling dogs and the race began. It was obvious that Stubby was good but Seamus is Seamus, and not one to let a bowl of chow lie wanting. With a final gulp and slurp of the tongue the bowl was empty. Two human voices shouted out simultaneously. Seamus and Stubby had tied, beating out the former champion by a significant margin.
As the four dogs in the second heat gobbled their grub it was already clear that the true race would be between Seamus and Stubby. The others were good, but not nearly so quick as the two big dogs.
The heat was delayed when it was recognized that one bowl wasn't filled as much as the others. Val's measurement had been off by 1 full scoop of kibble. She emptied the bowl and refilled it with a full measure, put her handlers in position, and called "GO".
Seamus stuck his nose in the dish and started gobbling. Focused as I was on my big buddy I didn't see what Stubby was up to. Maybe he took time to belch or maybe his tongue slipped. Whatever the case may have been, Seamus was the clear victor.
He cleaned up the bowl with a flick of his tongue, looked up, belched contentedly, and the race was well won. For his prize, he chose a bag of Yummy Chummy treats to share with his team mates, and was awarded a certificate to show off his prowess and forever record his status as THE hungriest dog in Two Rivers, Alaska.
We had a wonderful time yesterday, and I'd like to thank Stephanie Littlewolf and her young friend Robin for handling for the Stardancer team, and Lynn O for ALL her help at the event. In spite of her obvious discomfort (she isn't fully healed from her recent crash, and it was obvious) helped us get our team to the line, and helped other mushers as well.
She was also very active in helping the kids races go well and probably did lots of other things to help make it a wonderful event as well.
Oh - when I got home I put Seamus in the house (he earned his spot on the couch and my bed), and fed the remainder of the team. Then I checked my phone messages and learned that my new computer has arrived. A quick trip to town and now I can spend my time learning how to operate my new MAC.