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CMG takes a scooter to the Numb Bum, Part 1

Words: Editor ‘Arris/Nick Smirniw

INTRO by Editor ‘arris

It was an altogether cooler time of year.

Welcome to the CMG August schedule. Eh? Yes, the August schedule. In other words, we’ve decided to shut down the editorial department for the month of August (because CMG needs some maintenance work … and well, we need a holiday as well).

But we don’t like to leave our readership with nowt to read while we’re off philandering to parts unknown. Last year we repeated our much enjoyed (by us) trip around British Columbia. This year, while we lay sweating in the CMG bunker in record high temperatures, we thought we’d do something that would muster images of cooler times.

Back in the month of February 1998, we set out on our biggest racing effort to date. Out in northern Alberta there was a unique endurance race – twenty-four hours of riding around a 9 km track, carved onto the surface of a frozen lake. The event was/is called the Numb Bum and (in our minds anyway) it called for an equally oddball mode of transportation to do it with.

I won’t reveal any more of the madness here, as there’s five weeks worth of this epic saga to be told by the Team CMG captain for this event, Nick Smirniw. What we’ve done is edited the original diary format to give it more of a flow and take out the bits like “wow, someone just gave us a fifty bucks” updates that occurred over the original six weeks from idea conception to sitting at the starting grid. However, we have kept the real time format, just so that you can still feel the unfolding realities of the situation.

So turn up the air conditioner to eleven, put your feet in a bucket of ice and read about the madness of the winter of ’98 …


PART 1 – THE QUEST FOR HYPOTHERMIA

Can’t argue with that!

Alcohol is poison. Seriously. That’s the reason that you die if you drink too much of it, the reason that I felt the way I did this morning, as well as the reason that she was so good looking last night.

Of course, I’m willing to bet that very few of us (bikers or otherwise) would ever abstain from drinking, even though we are fully aware of the consequences. We’re either a brave and hearty bunch, or just a ship of drunken fools pointing at Alaska!

Perhaps this goes someway to explaining why on one such drunken night a few misguided souls thought that it would be a good idea to travel about 3,500 kms northwest, in the middle of February, to some remote frozen lake, and while we’re there, let’s ride around in circles for 24 hours straight.

You probably think that I’m joking, and I wish that I was, but the reality is that Team CMG have somehow consumed enough alcohol to decide that we are going to do the annual Numb Bum endurance race. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the Numb Bum is an event put on by Fairview College in Alberta. It consists of a snowplow, a lake (preferably frozen), motorcycles, and scores of lunatics.

Every winter the gang at the college (which has a very reputable motorcycle mechanics program) plough off a long windy track on a local lake and then ice racers of all shapes and skill levels participate in a 24-hour endurance race for charity. A good portion of these racers are legitimate ice racers, and the rest are folks who turn up for a good time. It’s not unusual to find large Japanese four-cylinder bikes turned into ice-bikes with the addition of studded knobby tires and riders whose sanity is in question.

The Numb Bum mascot is Captain Supercool Superfool. Very apt.

So how does Team CMG fit into this? Well, for some reason we thought that it would be a good idea – perhaps it would even be fun – but most importantly, it’s for charity. So here begins the six-week quest for glory in the ultimate ice race …

FINDING THE PERFECT ‘BIKE’

Obviously, our first order of business is to obtain a bike. In typical CMG style none of the prospective team members were keen to volunteer or even pay towards a machine that would undoubtedly be wrecked. Nor did we want to get something that was particularly ‘suitable’ for such an event.

It was decided that we’d try our luck with the manufacturers, and with one particular ice-racing machine in mind decided to make a quick call to Yamaha Canada. In a matter of minutes we had secured ourselves just what we had wanted – a 1998 Yamaha BWS 50cc scooter! Oh yeah, this baby can haul more groceries than your granny’s little wire cart and haul ass up to 60 km/h while doing so!

With the bike dilemma now solved we could move on to the more difficult problem of cash. We not only needed to raise money to get all of Team CMG and the bike out to Alberta, but also come up with a reasonable donation to the Fairview Foundation (remember, it’s a charity event).

The sale of some earplugs at a local show (with the added bonus of being able to win a few prizes) saw a cash injection of $400. Not bad, but still short of the $750 minimum needed to even get to the starting grid.

So this is where we’re at. We’ve got a bike, a fraction of the cash we’re going to need to complete this adventure, six weeks left and another case of beer (so that we can keep on generating more such ideas).

I know that I’m looking forward to seeing what will develop from this and I hope you will too. Stay tuned, because we will be posting updates as well as what other stupid ideas we’ve had to turn this innocent scooter into a fire-breathing ice racer, the likes of which have never been seen.

Nick Smirniw (Team CMG Captain)

PART 2 – THE FROZEN LAKE DOGS

Five weeks and counting …

It was all the rage back in ’98 …

After spending some time in Georgia recently, riding in warm and mild temperatures (courtesy of Honda Canada), I got to think what a daft idea all this Numb Bum shite was. Thus I decided it was time to try and talk some reason into Team CMG and just say “Let’s call the whole thing off”.

I’ve just got home after the latest team meeting and can now say it’s on and things are looking good! There’s still some areas that need sorting, but instead of looking overwhelming, it now looks plausible – even with a race date of only five weeks. We’ve confirmed everything with Fairview College (the rally organizers), and are due to pick up the BW50 from Yamaha tomorrow.

One thing I should mention is that since Team CMG meets in a diner and generally argue about the requirements to leave a tip, we’ve decided to opt for a Reservoir Dogs theme. We are now officially “Team Frozen Lake Dogs”, playing on the Tarantino film, Reservoir Dogs whereby all the characters are named after a colour so that if anyone is caught they cannot identify their partners in crime.

With that decided, the following members will now be known by these names (if you haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs, this ain’t gonna mean a whole lot) …

Editor ‘arris (CMG rep) Joe Cabot (the head honcho)
Nick Smirniw (Team captain) Mr. White (veteran robber played by Harvey Keitel)
Sean Craigen (mechanic) Mr. Blonde (a psychopathic parolee played by Michael Madsen)
Wilfred Gaube (photographer) Mr. Orange (the shot-in-the-gut guy played by Tim Roth)
Tony Lee (body 1) Mr. Brown (the only guy in the movie to crash a car)
Terry Miller (body 2) Mr. Blue (I think we made that one up)

Anyway, enough babbling from me, Nick (Team CMG Captain) has written the following piece which sums up our progress quite nicely.

Joe Cabot (Rob Harris)

January 11, 1998. Approx. 7:00 am

The distance was intimidating enough … never mind the weather forecast.

I checked that silly little weather channel website. Yup. I could almost hear Lila Feng reading along in the background as I noted the present conditions in Grand Prairie, Alberta – Foggy and minus 39 degrees Celsius.

How the hell do you get fog at -39? At -39 any hint of moisture in the air should freeze immediately and come crashing down to earth, but apparently in northern Alberta anything goes.

Grand Prairie is about an hour south of Hay Lake where we will be riding the Numb Bum. I can’t imagine that the conditions are, or will be, any different at the two sites. So from here on in, just to maintain a positive attitude in Team CMG members, I propose we only use the Kelvin scale to refer to temperature. So here’s your quick science lesson:

The Kelvin scale contains no negative numbers (see, that’s positive already…). One Kelvin (K) is equivalent to one degree Celsius. Minus 273 degrees Celsius is known as absolute zero – the point at which all molecular motion theoretically stops and as far as I know, the world ends. Absolute zero is also 0 Kelvin. See how this works? Zero degrees Celsius is 273 K and therefore -39 C is in fact 234 K.

Doesn’t that feel warm? Good, let’s move on.

Mr. White offers an example of an unfit rider.

In this week’s CMG Numb Bum news, we managed to get in touch with Douglas Woodhouse at the Fairview College Foundation. Doug was kind enough to fax us all sorts of info and rules and such.

The rules basically boil down to this: don’t be stupid, and anything goes as long as it’s ‘safe’. The only rule that confuses me is the one that states that the Track Marshall can require a team to withdraw for reasons of an unfit rider. An unfit rider? At 3:00 AM, when the temperature is 234 K, and there’s people riding motorcycles on a frozen lake, what precisely do you have to do to be judged unfit?

Now that we know what we have to do when we get there, we have to figure out all of the things we have to do in order to get there. That’s right, here is the most uninspiring of the Numb Bum articles to date – the logistics.

TO DO LIST

This past week Team CMG met at the deliciously but unintentionally retro-style diner that will be our headquarters for the next few weeks (we really should buy the staff a gift when this is over, those poor sods). We ate greasy food, had greasy discussions and came up with this greasy list of all the things we must address ASAP. Here they are in no particular order:

1) We need transportation for ourselves and the bike out to Fairview, Alberta. Since the Team CMG official transport van is having its shag rug interior replaced, somehow we need to ship the bike out prior to ourselves, which in turn bumps our completion deadline up one week.

Mr. Blonde was in charge of all things mechanical – including crating duties.

I personally still think that the bike is small enough to fit into the carry-on luggage category, but that only works if we can come up with enough money to fly ourselves out there. Therefore, the next thought is that of how to find the cheapest flights out to Edmonton from Toronto, and further, a good mini van rental from Edmonton.

2) We need to organize some form of heat and shelter at the event. This includes a tent or hut, and some type of energy converter, preferably a propane heater. We’re also going to need a generator to give us some light since according to the weather website, we can only expect about 7.5 hours of daylight.

3) While on the subject of warmth, we should probably consider how we will keep ourselves warm during this episode. Who’s got the best electric clothing out there and can the scooter happily power it?

4) We should probably put some thought into having general race supplies with us including fuels and spares – ideally at least one spare set of wheels, possibly a spare engine, extra levers and cables, and about a thousand spark plugs.

5) There’s about a million little accessory-type bits that we could use, including things such as motocross style handlebars, extra batteries, number plates, food, tire studs, extra lighting, air pumps, fire extinguishers, etc.

6) Finally, the most important thing that we must come up with is a substantial donation to the Fairview College Foundation … or a minimum one – that being $750.00.

That’s the list so far. Chances are, there are many significant details that we have yet to recognize as significant. With only five weeks to go, I guess we’d better start getting organized.

For Part Two, click here.

Mr. White (Nick Smirniw)

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