Welcome to the fifth and final part of Team Frozen lake Dogs adventures at the 1998 Numb Bum 24 hour ice race. If you missed the last update you can still access it by clicking here. Oh, and if there’s some stuff in italics, then it’s me (‘arris), and not Nick blabbering.
For this part we join Team FLD at hour six, just as they’d opted to try and fix their tire woes by filling it with silicone. It was the Pamela Anderson of tires, but how would it hold up …
Words by Nick Smirniw
6 PM TO MIDNIGHT – PAMELA EXPLODED
|Sunset on Hay Lake.|
We got back, reinstalled the silicone-filled, bolted-to-the-rim tire and sent out the 270 lb Mr. Orange to do the tire testing.
By now, all of the other teams were starting to have their own problems (including one team who changed bikes!!), but for the most, part even with the trouble we were having, everyone was still having fun. Mr Blonde was sleeping, Editor Cabot was socializing, and Malcolm and Marc was filming everything in sight. The whole lake was settling into a grove and the race was starting to seem normal-ish.
Of course, Mr. Orange didn’t come back.
Another snowmobile rescue but we now had a bike covered in silicon to add to the fact that the rear tire was yet again flat! Damn.
|Fixing the bike track side in sub-zero temperatures (Celsius scale) was not a fun or easy job.|
Mr. White and Brad decided to have another go at a fix, this time track side and this time with an altogether more radical solution – Mono foam. Yes, that expanding insulating foam stuff that you spray into cracks around your house! Since it sets solid, there’s no way that it can go flat! Or at least that was the theory.
However, we had now also exhausted our resources and any other option by filling the tires with Mono as there would be no way to get it out again. Questionable, yes, but we were now a desperate bunch.
And believe it or not, the stuff seemed to work … even if it did cut a precious 10 km/h off the scoot’s top speed. Shortly afterwards, Dougie went out and promptly managed to high side it! Highside a scooter?? You had to meet Dougie.
Damage was limited to a broken brake lever and twisted forks. But it still ran and after a quick tweak of the forks it even ran straight! At last, after eight hours of down time (that’s one third of the race) we were now finally going.
|Mr. White and Editor Cabot outside Camp FLD (which had a stove and all, making it really quite toasty).|
This is when we decided that the Monkey was really evil and the so-called ‘guardian angel’ was duly forsaken.
By about 9:30 pm (that’s 9 and a half hours into the thing) Team FLD had officially completed 8 laps. It was time to get down to business. It was cold and dark, but at least we had a heated tent and a pot of delicious moose-meat chili, both courtesy of Miss Pink.
It’s been a crazy 9.5 hours so far and there’s still 14.5 hours to go.
By the time Dougie, Mr. Blue, Mr. Orange and Editor Cabot had to go back to College’s residence for some kip (we were on a rotor), it was midnight and the bike was going without a hitch. Miss Pink, Mr. Brown, Mr. Blonde and myself took over for the midnight shift.
MIDNIGHT TO 6 AM – FOG!
Have any of you ever experienced ice fog? I never had until about 1 am that night. Imagine riding around between two plowed snowdrifts with a major white reflection of your headlight off the fog, not really knowing where the track turns until you’re there. You can’t put your visor down because it frosts up, so your eyelids are freezing together because of the wind-chill.
Sound like fun? It wasn’t. None of that seemed to affect our efforts though … until around 4 am.
|Mr. Brown illustrates the effect of ice fog.|
On the final lap of my shift the bike just died around the 8 km point. I managed to keep it running enough to light the lights, but not to drive. So I pushed it … all the way back to the pits (I made sure to wave at the scoring booth as I passed, ensuring that they recorded the lap!). What now??
Turns out to be carb icing, that’s what. Apparently when a 12 mm carb throat has a 4mm ice build up, it is rendered almost useless. Fortunately, the solution for this was to simply remove the air box cover and thaw the ice out. Mr. Blonde did the honours with a heat gun and off went Mr. Brown.
Mr. Brown didn’t come back.
He broke down thanks to the carb re-icing almost immediately. To add insult to injury, the combination of dark and fog made it impossible to find him until dawn – over an hour after he’d been deemed to be missing!
When we finally did find him, I grabbed the scooter and pushed it past the scoring booth again. It turns out that after having seen me run by on two consecutive laps, people thought I was pushing the bike around the whole track!
By now we had lost a few chunks of bike. Dougie’s high-side had snapped a brake lever, we lost the engine access cover somewhere on the track, numerous flats had allowed the tire studs to gouge the swingarm and I managed to tear off a piece of the floorboards after convincing myself that I could keep up with the big boys in the hairpin.
6 PM TO NOON – THE END IS NOW
|Dougie and Mr. Orange do the battery swap before Editor Cabot gets on to do his laps.|
We returned to the track at 9 am to take over from the rest of Team FLD after a good seven hours sleep.
We left Fairview in brilliant sunshine but got to the track in dense ice fog. The tire had now hit so many ruts and holes that the Mono foam instead of being nice and circular was an irregular polygon of flats. This actually added to the entertainment as any speed anywhere would have the back end jumping like a demented frog!
Of course, our tire problems had now been replaced by carb icing which would kill the bike as good as any flat. Regardless, myself and Dougie managed to make up for last time caused by Saturday’s flats, while avoiding a blocked carb.
Then all too early I realized that I was entering my final lap. The end was indeed nigh and all the chaos, all the work, all the frustration was behind us. If this was my last lap, then I might as well make it a good one.
|Mr. White waits for de-icing on the last lap.|
Most team members said that they did the circuit flat out (‘scuse the pun) all the way. I had always let off the throttle in corners, never quite trusting the grip of the tires. Sod it. This is my last lap. I don’t care anymore.
Puddles of water had developed over the course of the race but now instead of swerving around I went straight on through, watching the water freeze almost instantaneously as it hit me and the bike.
At 11:40 am Mr. White took the bike for the last lap …
I was elected to take the glory lap and went out to enjoy it. We couldn’t get the bike to run over 30 km/h now, but the sun was shining and I was overcome with such a feeling of satisfaction that nothing mattered … until the carb iced up and the bike stalled mid-way through the lap.
|Waiting at the finish line …|
I stood there laughing. Since I was sitting the point physically closest to the start-finish straight (even though there was about 4 km of track between they and I) I had a prime view of everyone else finishing the race.
Mr. Orange ran through the snow with my trusty swiss-army knife and quickly saved the day. Closing ceremonies were delayed, with all the racers and spectators waiting for me to cross the finish line however possible.
I finally did. We all celebrated.
In total, we covered 44 laps (each lap was about 9 km), which was not bad considering that for the first 12 hours we were hard pressed to get 1 lap per hour in (losing at least 8 hours to the tire problems). That put us squarely last, but we were all ecstatic.
|All the pain was soon forgotten once the awards were handed out.|
The good news is that we came in first in both the under 100cc and the scooter classes. Or, depending on how you look at it, we could have come in last place considering that we were the only ones in these classes! But team Frozen Lake Dogs sees the glass as half full, so as far as we’re concerned, we set race and lap records!
Team FLD even managed to pick up a couple of awards. We got the Furthest Traveled Award (that was tough…) and the ‘Innovator’ Award for having broken down so much.
The crowd was given a champagne shower and we went home with an amazing level of satisfaction for having traveled over 7000 kms in 3.5 days for $16 worth of trophies. Oh yeah, and Rob broke the trophies on the way home (sorry about that – Rob).
But what a blast! No matter how stupid this was, we did it and we did well. There’s a story to tell the grand kids.
Mr. White (Nick Smirniw)
|Team FLD from left to right (real names): Brad (honourary member), Nick, Tony, Dougie, ‘arris, Terry, Sean and Cathy. Wilfred is missing (presumably taking said picture).
BTW, the B-Whiz is half buried after an end of race ‘burn’-out!
Doug and Tammy at the Fairview College Foundation office, to Bert for providing us with some digital photos and computer assistance, to Stan the college computer guy, and pretty much all of the people of Fairview (and especially the Roadhouse bar) who didn’t think we were too weird and beat us up.
Most importantly, we must mention the amount of work that Cathy Srayko and Brad Chorney put into our effort. Cathy dealt with local details (and made awesome chili) and Brad steered us through all of our tire problems. Without these two we may not have made it.
And finally to the companies that helped make it possible by providing the gear that we needed:
Yamaha Motor Canada – www.yamaha-motor.ca
Gerbing heated clothing – www.gerbing.com
Snowmobile rider attire – www.kpx-kimpex.com
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