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  1. #1
    Fatback
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    Iditarod Trail Invitational

    Just got in from the start of the race. It was sunny and 16 degrees. Approx. 14" of new snow that was fairly packed for the first 10mi or so, then softened as the trails got wider. Jeff Oatley had already put the smackdown on the field with a good size lead and was rolling strong at Burma Rd. Many competitors took different routes at that point, so it will be interesting to see the times at the first checkpoint. With clear skies, it looks to dip well below "none" tonight.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  2. #2
    Caveman
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    Rode out almost to Burma Road and back, Trail conditions were great, just a beautiful day riding through the trees in the sun with views of the Chugash on the way back. It will be brisk tonight on the Yetna for sure. I'd post some photos but I seem to have a defective memory card... grrr.

  3. #3
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    Hey Guys
    Is Rocky riding a bike with fat wheels,shock horror!
    Did Mike Curiak set of after everyone again??
    How was my mate James doing,looks like his feet will be tested on the cold river to Skwentna

  4. #4
    Fatback
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlhutch
    Hey Guys
    Is Rocky riding a bike with fat wheels,shock horror!
    Did Mike Curiak set of after everyone again??
    How was my mate James doing,looks like his feet will be tested on the cold river to Skwentna

    Hi Carl-Rocky is not racing this year do to health issues, and you know they must be bad if he's not racing. Mike has not left yet-he's in town today, and leaving tomorrow I believe. James was up in the top few riders, looking good, strong and cheerful.
    Hope to see you next year.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  5. #5
    Fatback
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    Race pics

    Just got some pics from yesterday's start. Jeff O, Chris W, and the starting line. Note that Alec P has a ski on the front. By the time he reached Burma Rd he had chucked it, but my guess is that he now regrets that. Damn, couldn't get the starting line photo to upload. Wrong file extension-anyone know that kind of shtuff?
    Thanks to Jim Jager for the photos.
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    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  6. #6
    FatBike Fiend
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    Coupla pics

    from the start.
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  7. #7
    Caveman
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    Saved the memory card. phew..

    The good photos were taken by Dan Bailey:

    Jeff Oatley


    Billy Koitzsch


    Phil Hofstetter







    Tim Hewitt

    Geoff



    Tom Jarding


    Cory, Ed & Pete


    Jill

    Pete




    Last edited by Bearbait; 03-05-2009 at 06:57 PM.

  8. #8
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    those checkpoint times are telling a story.
    Just saw Geoff and Jill scratched.....damn.

  9. #9
    Caveman
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    major bummer (if true?). They both had lingering colds before starting...

  10. #10
    Fat!Drunk!Slow!
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    From Alaska Ultrasport News: http://www.alaskaultrasport.com/latest_news.html

    "It has been an eventful day here for me since I have been in McGrath. There have been some scratches in Yentna. Riccardo Ghirardi had problems with his knees and decided to stop here. Geoff Roes also had knee issues. Jill Homer stepped into some overflow last night and as some frostbite on her toes. As far as I know it is minor, but not continuing on is a good decision to prevent further damage to the toes. Three of them flew out to Willow and Geoff and Jill are staying with friends in Palmer."
    Sorry to hear. )O: Hope those toes and knees are feeling better!

  11. #11
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    a little late..

    Great photos Mark and Eric!

    A couple images from Seven Mile Lake and a Picasa Link - not great photos, but when I see at times that over 50 "guests" are viewing this page I'm sure that there are those that will enjoy any pic of their racers - and all of them were still smiling at this point ...

    http://picasaweb.google.com/mesotony/2009Ultrasport#

    T
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    Last edited by Mesotony; 03-02-2009 at 11:50 PM.
    "I get a buzz from being cold and wet ~ the pleasure seems to balance out the pain" - Blue, Red and Grey The Who By Numbers

  12. #12
    No, that's not phonetic
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    Nice paceline.

    Great photos, gents. Much appreciated.

    It's a shame for the folks who put that much prep into the event to have to scratch so fast. I feel for them.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  13. #13
    runs with scissors
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    A bit lateÖ more photos of the race start.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/DOSBUGS/...eat=directlink

    Good luck Frank, Bob, and Bill!
    -Fred
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  14. #14
    .......................
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    I like Pete's rig, nice and small, and finally a good use for road bars! One pair of skate, one pair of classic I presume?
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  15. #15
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    Im hopeless at remembering times but isnt Jeff`s 6.20 hrs Finger lake to Puntilla really, really fast or am i getting confused as usual.

    You reading this Kathi???

  16. #16
    Bill M
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    Really fast? Yes. Unbelievable!

    This is Kathi in McGrath. Finally got caught up including an APRN talk on Talk AK on the radio this morning while I was trying to update everyone.
    I've got last year's in an out times on my laptop here with me to compare checkpoint times.
    Bill and I did Fingerlake to Puntilla in 8 hours with a phenomal trail last year. I thought that was fast?! Bill and I agreed that that section had never been that good for riding before. What is happening out there? Man Jeff is kickin butt. I am afraid going over the pass might put a damper on that, I hope not, the trail over Rainy Pass is being put in as we speak. I sure hope to get a call from our Sat Phone in Rohn tonight with an update.

    Kathi

  17. #17
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    Jeff Oatley you stud.I think hes morphed himself into a snow machine.Hes taken the bare minimum of time to dry clothes and catch a bite to eat up until now and he goes and rides that ***** of a section in 6.20.

  18. #18
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    Carl - last year we left Shell lake lodge at 6:30 AM, got to Finger Lake at 10 ish, stayed long enough to eat and get our drops, and left by 11. I think we got to Puntilla just after dark. 7PM? So 8 hours last year if I remember right? On good trail.

    Is it Rainy Pass or Hells Gate this year? OOPS - just saw Kathi's post. That could be a long day alone.

  19. #19
    Caveman
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    Guys- he's obviously using his aero bars...

  20. #20
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    Freakin roadie. Probably shaved his legs too.

  21. #21
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    We the people ... Results Analyzed

    If anyone is interested, I put my spreadsheet skills to use and analyzed the 2008 ITI (McGrath) race results. It has a breakdown of the time between checkpoints, at CPs and total traveling and resting time for every CP:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...3JQt3Tl9D5TGZw

    For the ongoing race (2009) I have a work in progress spreadsheet on google docs that is obviously lagging behind the website results. You can see that here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?k...iLph3CRg&gid=0

    In theory this is a google doc and anyone is welcome to update it. It is simple and the instructions are included in the first "tab" (called "Instructions") of the spreadsheet itself. Some folks were still in at Skwentna, so the analysis is only complete for Yentna Station. For Skwentna the place order is only partially complete.

    Send me an email at bicyclepusher-2008@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

  22. #22
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    not much chit chat about THE race on here???
    who`s guessing Bill has half a dozen racers helping him make a trail???

  23. #23
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    I was just picturing 3 guys on skis gliding past 13 guys standing around with 40lb bikes in 4' of snow with no trail.

    I also considered that Jeff might have broken trail down the Dalzell alone. Can you imagine what that would have been like last year without 9 of us taking turns?

  24. #24
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    The last two tracking points from Billy indicate that he's traveled a distance of about 2 miles in 2 hours and 50 minutes. That's 0.7 mph. I am guessing waist-deep snow.

  25. #25
    FatBike Fiend
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    Hmmm

    As I sit comfortably ensconsed in a warm house hearing forecasts for warm temps, 9 inches of snow and south winds to 35 mph through the Alaska Range passes, hope everybody's hanging in there out on the trail. Sounds like slow and dicey going through the pass.
    Owner, Trailwerx Trails Contracting
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  26. #26
    k-2
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    the pass

    looks like there is somewhere between 18 - 22 people in the pass tonight depending on what you read/hear. those are two mighty small shelter cabins in the pass. i hope everyone is cozy and safe!

  27. #27
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    You gotta feel for Jeff building that lead and now he has to spend the night with Bill Merchant...poor guy.I hope Bill is sleeping with one eye open.Only kidding Bill.Last year there was really good spirits amongst the 8/9 of us trailless but the weather was good and Tim will remember better but im sure we were only 8 odd miles from Rohn.
    How good is Tracey Petervary.Huge respect for what shes achieving out there.

  28. #28
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    Hum, I really did not follow why Jeff did have to spend the night with Bill.
    Ride to Live... Live to Ride

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlhutch
    You gotta feel for Jeff building that lead and now he has to spend the night with Bill Merchant...poor guy.I hope Bill is sleeping with one eye open.Only kidding Bill.Last year there was really good spirits amongst the 8/9 of us trailless but the weather was good and Tim will remember better but im sure we were only 8 odd miles from Rohn.
    How good is Tracey Petervary.Huge respect for what shes achieving out there.
    Jeff's GPS said 7 miles straight line to Rohn when we caught the snowmachines. Seems like it ended up being 9. Some of that was rideable after we got out of the gorge. I'm guessing we really only postholed 5 to 6 miles max.

    I'm interested to see how they get out of Rohn with all of that wind and snow.

  30. #30
    FatBike Fiend
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    Donner, party of eight?

    Hopefully it won't come to that. Sounds like a hunkerfest in the cabins by Kathi's post this morning, I'm wondering if they drew straws to see who would go back to the Halfway Lake cabin. She did say four bikers headed over the pass, didn't say who they were.

    Hang in there, troops.
    Owner, Trailwerx Trails Contracting
    Palmer, Alaska
    www.trailwerx.com

  31. #31
    k-2
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    it might have something to do with 10 feet of snow and no trail?

  32. #32
    Fatback
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    20 racers trapped in the pass

    ADN reports racers caught in Rainy Pass. Here's the link:
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  33. #33
    No, that's not phonetic
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    That all sounds pretty effed up.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  34. #34
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    sounds like some of them punched through to Rohn. I hope they're tearing apart my food drop right now to regain some of the calories they probably didn't have in the past day. I've got enough bacon there to get them all to McGrath.

  35. #35
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    This race is making the GDR look like a ride in the park!
    Pete must be happy to have left the bike behind in favour of skis. Guess than might change after the big race passes them by? (Can dog sleds handle those conditions?)

    Here's hoping Mother Nature gives them a break some time real soon.

  36. #36
    Caveman
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    Usually there is no, or little snow around Rohn and on river for the first part of the Burn. It will be interesting to see if the skiers got a lead on the bikers across the Burn with all the snow this year.

  37. #37
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    I was just wondering the same thing, especially with the possibility of fresh and windblown snow across the Burn and on the Kuskokwim. If a skier can manage to stay ahead of the cyclists, would this be the first time a skier won the race to McGrath?

  38. #38
    Fatback
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    Jeff Oatley wins!

    Congratulations to Jeff. Way to go man. I figured once you guys regrouped, there was no way the riders were going to win. Can't wait to hear the story. Cory can't be far behind on skis. Best of luck to the rest and all who are heading to Nome. Let's hope we get word on Yair soon.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  39. #39
    Caveman
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    Congrats Jeff,
    You are a machine, it was your time. Looking foreword to hearing the stories.

  40. #40
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    Good job Jeff.
    Just think you won a free entry to come back next year and do it all again ;-)

  41. #41
    Bill M
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    Amazing Racers

    I just got back to town and thought I should update everyone with the rest of the story!!!
    I did bury the Viking many times, got knocked down, stomped and left for dead by the Iditarod Trail but our racers did not!!!!! I witnessed first hand the most amazing group of racers probably in the world leave what no one would call a trail and head over the Pass in fresh snow with no base. 99.9 percent of folks would not have made it 100 feet in conditions like that without bikes and these racers left knowing they faced several miles of the same. When they arrived where I scratched as trailbreaker everyone was upbeat and had the attitude, "It is what it is!" We spent the night in the roofless Rainy Pass Hilton (No one was sent back to the halfway cabin) and they left the next morning. It makes me proud to say I know these unbelievably strong men and women I had the chance to see take on the Iditarod Trail in conditions no words can describe. I bogged down about 1 1/2 miles from the top of the Pass and the Rohn crew was stuck about 6 miles from the top on the other side. The racers broke the first trail over the Pass this year. We had 14 inches of fresh snow before the second group left the Hilton and yet they teamed up and pushed over too. I was pretty worthless up there but I did take a bit of video and will try to put it together when I get back to Chickaloon so everyone can see but not really know how tough it really was. It was something that had to be experienced to understand and even though I was there I can only guess what it took to make it over the Pass to Rohn. There was no drama with this group only determination and drive to finish. Congratulations to all who finished and to those who are still out there on their way to McGrath. For Jeff Oatley thanks for looking out for me after the machine kicked my a%%. I am glad that delay didn't cost you the race. If this sounds a bit fluffy, "You would have had to be there to understand."

  42. #42
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    Bill,

    I will take issue with your humble and self-deprecating minimizing of your contribution to the success of this year's race. I can speak from 30 years of ultra-distance competition that it means a lot to us to see the RD out there, looking after racers and trying to lighten the stress-load a bit.

    I concur with your assessment that this year's edition ranks among the most gripping (although Jim Jager's solo assault on Rainy Pass in the middle of a white-out blizzard is still hard to top). I'll take the 30-below zero misery from the previous 2 years any day.

    Kudos to all....especially those game enough to push on to Nome.

  43. #43
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    I forgot to add that it's got to hurt to see the dogs ripping up the Yentna at over 17 MPH. What a difference a week can make!

  44. #44
    No, that's not phonetic
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    Huge respect and props to everyone competing this year. This weekend warrior from Kodiak is humbled. Nice jobs, one and all.
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  45. #45
    Scott in Tucson
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    Wow

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill M
    I just got back to town and thought I should update everyone with the rest of the story!!!
    I did bury the Viking many times, got knocked down, stomped and left for dead by the Iditarod Trail but our racers did not!!!!! I witnessed first hand the most amazing group of racers probably in the world leave what no one would call a trail and head over the Pass in fresh snow with no base. 99.9 percent of folks would not have made it 100 feet in conditions like that without bikes and these racers left knowing they faced several miles of the same. When they arrived where I scratched as trailbreaker everyone was upbeat and had the attitude, "It is what it is!"

    Great post Bill. Glad to hear your perspective on it. "Scratched as trail breaker" -- Ha! Is that going to be in the official results?

    Big thanks for all you and Kathi do for this amazing event. You guys rock.
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  46. #46
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    Thanks for "the rest of the story," Bill. It's been incredible following along. We were thinking about you and Kathi and the ITI racers at yesterday's Moose Drewl.

  47. #47
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    Jeff Oatley WINS 2009!!! Yea! Homeboy you are a manimal! Amazing job this year, incredible stories from the trail. We are all in awe here. Kudos to you and every soul that participated in an epic race this year! Thanks for sharing it all with us. Us fair weather bikers are amazed.
    Ride to Live... Live to Ride

  48. #48
    Bill M
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    Billy Koitzsch out of Takotna

    Billy Koitzsch called in from Takotna last night about 11:00 PM and said he and Marco Berni would be leaving about midnight heading for Ophir. He sounded upbeat and said he is feeling good. We probably won't hear from him again before he reaches Shagaluk and the next phone. Their Iditarod resupply was put in place yesterday. We try not to send it out to early so maybe the wolves and ravens will leave them something to eat when they get there.

  49. #49
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    Welcome back

    Bill,

    Wow, what a race this year! Sounds like you all really earned it this time, and hopefully the hardest parts are behind the remaining racers.

    Have a cold one on all of us....

    Pat

  50. #50
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    Godspeed Mr Grady

    Sean is no doubt enjoying one of the most difficult days of his life.



    The temps are in the 30s, it is snowing heavily and the trail is very, very soft.



    My thoughts are with you Sean, you are the man for the unscratch, no matter what happens.



    I hope everyone else is cheering you on as well.



    Big props from the early '90s Philly Bike Messengers- I didn't think you youngsters were nearly so hardcore- I was very wrong!



    Pulling for you from McGrath



    Frank

  51. #51
    k-2
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    go grady!!

    we are certainly pulling for him!!

    hopefully he was able to travel in some cooler temps last night, and is enjoying a nice kusko tail wind. he's got some serious stick-to-it-iv-ness for the 'unscratch' for sure... hope to see him back here in palmer soon!!

  52. #52
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    Saw Mike Curiak last night at Peter and Tracy's he is there now. It was really neat to meet him and here his trail stories. Left the house to go see some musher arrivals and low and behold here comes walkers Cookie and Francesco walking down the long road into town. My wife and I waited unitl we were close in the darkness to ambush them with cheers and congratulations. It was awesome, woke up Peter and called it a night so they could regain a calm house.
    Miss the trail, back in Anchortown...

    Go Marco, Go Billy and yes Go Georgie!!

    Thanks to everyone that makes up this great event/communitty.
    Frank

  53. #53
    Bill M
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    Sean Made It In

    Sean Grady made it in to McGrath at 2:25 pm. Way to go Sean!!!! We still have one biker out on the trail. George Azarias from New York rode with us for 5 days back in December and that is all the winter riding experience he had before race start. He still might not have a lot of winter riding experience but I am sure he could give lessons in bike pushing. His comment to me last night reminded me of what Todd Scott said years ago. George said, "If I knew I would push the bike so much I would have spent more time at the mall-------- pushing a shopping cart around. His commitment to finishing in McGrath is amazing. George left Nikolai this morning in the company of Roger Leavesley, James' father, who stands to become the oldest to finish to McGrath at 61.
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  54. #54
    Bill M
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    Billy's spot and youtube video

    Just thought I would post Billy's spot info found on Krein's Topofusion page
    http://topofusion.com/spot.php
    Here's a link to my youtube video of this year's race. Some of it is a little shaky but my tripod wasn't made for Rainy Pass winds. This was some of the better trail over the Pass so just imagine what the bad sections were like.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjsDLQh2-JU

  55. #55
    Bill M
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    The 350 is Finished

    George made it into McGrath at 23:40 and Roger won the Red Lantern at 02:30. Way to go guys.

  56. #56
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    Billy activated his SPOT at 1PM today with a help message.

    His wife has been notified.

    You can see where he is on the ArcticCycles website.

    Come on Billy hang in there.



    One good thing is that it isn't the "emergency" message just "help"

  57. #57
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    Billys Spot

    10 minutes ago Billys spot sent an "OK" message!
    "I get a buzz from being cold and wet ~ the pleasure seems to balance out the pain" - Blue, Red and Grey The Who By Numbers

  58. #58
    Bill M
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    Technology in the back country

    I am very happy that Billy is okay!!!! BUT technology has no place on the Iditarod Trail I love and enjoy. Yair's GPS batteries failed, the sat phone I carried for the first time on the Trail failed and made Kathi worry, now Billy's spot went off by its self we all are assuming. I have dealt with attitude from the troopers ( I didn't call them) today that act like I should have a snowmachine on the trail for every racer but who launch a chopper to help one of their own who ran low of gas near Flathorn in the suburbs of Anchorage and then their spokesperson said they did the right thing by calling before they had a problem. Dang I miss the days when we went into the wilderness dependent on our skills and a bit of luck to come home alive. Sorry to use the forum to vent but this whole depend on technology in the backcountry and anything but self rescue drives me nuts. I know better than to react and make my views public before I have had time to think about what I am saying but maybe it's time my inner voice went public even if it offends some of the gentle folks. If this offends anyone I appologize and maybe I am a bit old fashioned but I think our core group of veteran racers might agree. There! I said it and am willing to take the beating for it.
    Bill M

  59. #59
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    False alarm on Koitzsch SPOT

    Seems like your point is made Bill.
    Effing gadget.
    Just talked to Billy's wife Erica, no search was launched, and musher reports are that he is walking his bike. So make of it what you will. I think this SPOT stuff will likely create many more problems than it will solve.

  60. #60
    Fatback
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    Hey Bill-I feel for you. You and Kathi do your best to put on a great event, even going out of your way with the winter camps to prepare the uninitiated. At some point safety becomes the racer's responsiblity. You can't possibly foresee all the dangers and have them covered. Don't let the Man bring you down. Ironic that during one of the warmer races all the problems with batteries. It's been a great race for the fans. Keep on.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  61. #61
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    So is Billy OK? That's a lot of help messages on his site. Maybe he hit the help button and didn't notice he had activated it for several hours.

    I carried a SPOT out the trail this year after extensively explaining to my loved ones all the ways it could and probably would fail. It's a security (argueably false security) blanket for those watching, but I think everyone who enters this race has a solid understanding of exactly how important it is to be self-sufficient out there, because help is not exactly close by. There's no way I would head into a dangerous situation thinking that if things got bad, SPOT would save me, because I know it wouldn't. It's a little satellite signal that may or may not even send, and even if it does, may or may not reach the right people in time. That said, if I fell off a cliff and broke my leg (because I'm actually pretty good at accidentally falling into things), I'd probably be hitting that "help" button and hoping for the best.

    Techonology only becomes dangerous when a person becomes completely dependent on that techonology ... i.e. failing to carry maps because you have a GPS and believe that's all you need. The same could be said of avalanche beacons for mountaineers ... not a bad idea to carry but not a substitute for common sense.

    This idea of techonology as crutch - where do you draw the line? Are lights a bad thing because you're nearly helpless without them in the dark?

    The whole GPS/SPOT debate is an interesting one because of the ways both of these technologies are reshaping backcountry travel. Do they coax more people into the wilderness that have no business being out there? Hard for me to say, because I'd probably have to put myself in that group. :-)

  62. #62
    No, that's not phonetic
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    Why didn't they peel the logs on that cabin?
    My video techniques can be found in this thread.

  63. #63
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    This pic was taken in 05 of Alan Sheldon as near as dam it to where Billy is now.Temps were even warmer then and the trail was soft and impossible to ride all the way to Shagaluk.Billy is obviously pretty tenacious.If he can hang in there maybe the Yukon will give him a rideable trail.
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  64. #64
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    Pressing the Help button on a Spot does not notify police or SAR. It sends an e-mail to people whom you choose to send it to. It is up to you to have a protocol with those people as to what "Help" means but it is NOT emergency help. The Spot has a 911 button for that. Whatever this guy's help button means should have been agreed upon between him and the people who receive his Spot messages.

    There was a major screw-up in the Yukon Arctic Ultra this year. The entire race was using Spots for real-time tracking. Some racers pressed Help, which was an agreed-upon signal to race organizers that they needed non-life threatening assistance (in this case, finding the trail). However, some people who were watching the Spot page on the Internet panicked and called the RCMP. A major search effort was launched from two ends of the trail. No aircraft, but ground searchers with snow machines.

    I understand being equipped for self-rescue (I always am), but the Spot does have a place out there in the bush, if for no other reason than it can save your life.

    I'm a SAR team member and, believe me, we would always be happier if that person was carrying one than not. I'd rather respond to a couple of false alarms then be out searching for a dead body. I've done both.

    The benefits outweigh the hassles, IMHO.

  65. #65
    Bill M
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    Billy's in Iditarod

    Billy had problems with his knee. Iditarod snowmachines picked him up last night and took him to their checkpoint at Iditarod. At this time they are planning to fly him out today. I offered to send a plane and they said it is not neccessary. I had an email this morning from Andy Willis informing me of what happen. Iditarod was the first folks I called yesterday when we found out planes couldn't fly to where Billy was because of weather. I hope Billy gets home soon and heals quickly. I made my point about the spot thing and won't get involved in the debate but I agree with Jill that it gets folks out there in the back country who shouldn't be there.I don't think this is the case with Billy. Another racer's family was ready to send the calvary several times when they didn't get an update every little while. I am glad this turned out with a happy ending and look forward to speaking with Billy to get the full story. It wasn't the spot that came to Billy's rescue it was Iditarod who has always told us they are ready and willing to help if we have an Emergency.

  66. #66
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    Shoot.

    Sorry to hear this about Billy. Glad to hear he is ok. Brij and I were speculating that he fell into a creek since that's where the "help" signal came from. Heal up man. Knee injuries suck.

    On the technology note, aside from rescues - if the batteries last, Sat phones DO work really well for having crank arms delivered to no-where within 24hrs! cant say that about a spot...

  67. #67
    I'm from Utah
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    On the technology note, aside from rescues - if the batteries last, Sat phones DO work really well for having crank arms delivered to no-where within 24hrs! cant say that about a spot...
    Oh, yeah, I forgot about that. Did you guys also get some beer and Doritoes as part of the deal? Technology is an amazing thing.

    Congrats to the racers who finished to McGrath under grueling circumstances. Tim and Tom are true lions and I'm hoping to cheer them on all the way to Nome.

    Sorry to hear you were harrassed by local authorities and possibly peoples' family members this year, Bill. I can fully understand your views about this sort of technology because the exsistence of it means more pressure on people who organize these events to essentially babysit their racers, because now it's "possible." But you and Kathi did a great job this year. I can just imagine how fun that sleepover on Rainy Pass must have been. Wish I could have been there. :-)

  68. #68
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    A few years ago, while skiing the Eklutna traverse, a pilot doing a drop crashed his plane into the glacier in flat light conditions. We were able to provide a pretty good first response but if it hadn't been for the sat phone, he would have died on the glacier. Period.

    These things are less than perfect and sometimes they do crap out but they can and do save lives.

  69. #69
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    I agree that these new fangled tech gadgets can and sometimes even do save lives, but I also believe that they can and sometimes do cost lives (due to a false sense of security). I carried a SPOT for the 5 minutes or so that I was in the race this year, but I had reservations about doing so and will probably not do so in the future once my one year of service runs out next month. I guess it makes it more fun for people to follow along and certainly there are instances in which the 911 feature could save your life, but the different buttons, which can be pretty easy to push on accident can so easily cause a lot of worry and confusion and false sense of security. Travelling the Iditarod trail is dangerous. we all know that going in to it. There are hundreds of things we can all learn to improve our chances of surviving an emergency out there, i think it makes more sense to focus on things which don't have as much potential confusion/error as something like the SPOT has.

  70. #70
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    I can't ignore it.

    Carrying a SPOT; Do people do these type of adventures for themselves or are they looking to entertain a bunch of computer riders/followers? I understand some like the security and that 911/OK buttons have a purpose but it seems as if everybody likes the feature of being able to follow or be followed real time. That to me takes all the fun out of it. Others like it because they are looking to build a following fan base, wrong reason for sure. These SPOTS anoy me when it comes to racing! No friggin secrets! I can think of a great spot to shove those SPOT's. A solo mission might be a good time to carry one. If you need to have something maybe the sat phone is the more private security blanket. The SPOT's are pretty cool and no offense to the people that carry them but just expressing my opinion as it is a growing trend in other races as well. Who knows I might even carry one one day but in no race against others. A double edge sword that thing is.

    Congrats to all who made it to Mcgrath, it was the year I was looking for, a real challenge with a traveling partner that could'nt stop smiling. See ya'll next year.

    JayP

  71. #71
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    Billy couldn't bring his smiling riding partner with him, so she stayed home with the kids to quietly worry alone. I'm sure the SPOT helped give her some comfort and get some sleep at night. The people who were "in the know" knew that when Billy pressed the "Help" button, it meant the race was over for one reason or another and he was going to end the trip. When his movements reflected a slow-moving or stationary status, arrangements were made to have a flight service pick him up today if necessary. It wasn't necessary. These things were being done behind the scenes by capable friends at their own expense. He never pushed 911. He was just letting us know it was over.

    This is a side-note, but worth mentioning. He'd never say this because I know he doesn't think it's a big deal, but it's worth sharing. Billy spent a lot of time in the weeks, days and hours right before the race to make sure that four other riders (five, but one bagged at the last minute) had fully operational bikes and adequate gear to make the trip to McGrath. Think about that. Six bikes and gear to get ready. He spent a lot of time making sure others had the best possible chance to finish their race and then packed his gear last, at the last minute on the morning of the race, then went on to make it farther up the trail than anyone else on a bicycle did in a year with exceptionally rough weather.

    It seemed like an appropriate time to mention a little bit of back-story for the last biker on the trail of the 2009 Ultrasport.

  72. #72
    Caveman
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    Jay - Congratulations to you and Tracey, total rock stars!

    Speaking only on the spectating note - I think they take away allot of the mystery that this race has. It's always a nail bitter to wait and hear of the reports from Rohn, and Nikolai. Having Spot's involved takes that away if people start carrying them.

    I think they have a place like Alhansen mentions - Piece of mind for family / inexpensive (& somewhat unreliable) epirb. But I think they are an oxy-moron for wilderness races in most other aspects.
    Last edited by Bearbait; 03-13-2009 at 07:58 PM.

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill M
    I am very happy that Billy is okay!!!! BUT technology has no place on the Iditarod Trail I love and enjoy. Yair's GPS batteries failed, the sat phone I carried for the first time on the Trail failed and made Kathi worry, now Billy's spot went off by its self we all are assuming.

    There! I said it and am willing to take the beating for it.
    Bill M
    Bill-

    You make a good point (or maybe you didn't make it but it's what I think you were getting at) that we've become reliant on technology out there. Figuring out where to draw the line is difficult. Without technology we wouldn't be there, period. No snowmachines to break the trail, no chainsaws to clear the trail, no high tech garments to keep us warm and dry and windproof on the way there. No lightweight and fancy sleeping bags to cradle our wracked bodies through the sometimes very cold nights trailside. 100 years ago much of this stuff didn't exist but today we are dependent on it. Asking folks today to go without the technological crutches is like speaking to a brick wall--it ain't gonna happen.

    You wrote the above with the tone that the geegaws had failed, and I don't think that's necessarily so. Batteries *always* die--that's why we learn how long they last *beforehand* so that we can take enough to last us. In other words, you really can't point the finger at the batteries. Your sat phone refused to charge when hooked up to that snowmachine, but then you found out (because it was a borrowed phone) that that phone's batt is a known weak point, guaranteed to die in less than a year. And wasn't it more than a year old?! SPOT unit's do not, in my experience, activate themselves in any way. You MUST press a button to turn them on, another button to set them to track mode, and still another button to get help or 911 going. If Billy's unit went to help mode it's because Billy somehow (probably inadvertently) pressed help.

    My point is simple: Guns don't kill people--people kill people. You can rail against the technology all you want, but the mistakes that were made out there (and that will always be made as long as it's us humans using the technology) stemmed from human error or poor human assumptions. The enemy is us.

    Veterans of that race (well, most of 'em...) understand that you can take all the geegaws you want but it's ultimately you that will perform your own self-rescue if/when things go wrong. Instead of worrying about or legislating against technology, perhaps find a way to reinforce that we're our own best friend and worst enemy. In that respect, the 'old race' format of including the mandatory overnight was, in many ways, a great idea.

    After preparing folks as best you can (and you two have always done a bang-up job) pre-race, ultimately you have no choice but to do what you've been doing for 7 years now--let us go out there to make our own memories, good, bad, horrifying, enlightening, but never indifferent.

    Just my .02.

    MC

  74. #74
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    If Billy's unit went to help mode it's because Billy somehow (probably inadvertently) pressed help.
    Not trying to pick on you Mike, but as Al noted above, Billy did deliberately trigger the Help signal. The main downfall with the Spot as a messaging device is that it only has 3 "modes": Ok, Help, and 911. There's no: "I'm pushing this bike and it sucks and I'm done as soon as I get to the next checkpoint" button. We've checked, not there. So he and his "crew" did the appropriate thing, they determined beforehand, just what "Help" would mean. If there is any criticism, I'd say that it was that they did not let the organizers in on this code, leaving a lot of people guessing and worrying.

    I've heard some complaints about the Spot but whenever you look into it, it's user error or miss-communication. Maybe it's the fact that any additional "communication" in these settings brings more anxiety and more sources for confusion but the fact remains, it can save a life.

    And I disagree that it encourages people who are otherwise underqualified, undertrained, or whatever to participate in these events. It happens and has been happening. It is what it is, people want to push themselves and that's what this race is ultimately about.

  75. #75
    I'm from Utah
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    [QUOTE=SkiMonkee]I've heard some complaints about the Spot but whenever you look into it, it's user error or miss-communication. Maybe it's the fact that any additional "communication" in these settings brings more anxiety and more sources for confusion but the fact remains, it can save a life.[QUOTE]

    In my test runs in Juneau, I found my SPOT "I'm OK" signals would send maybe 40 percent of the time. Granted, Juneau is surrounded by a lot of big mountains, but so are parts of the Iditarod Trail. SPOT is a fickle device that needs a fair amount of open space and good placement to actually send messages. I acquired my SPOT under some pressure from my family, and before the race set up very clear boundaries: SPOT would likely not always track where I was, but I was not in trouble unless I sent a "help" message. If they received a "help" message, it meant I believed myself to be immobile (twisted knee, broken arm, etc.) but otherwise fine to wait out several hours or days even until they could reach certain contacts in Anchorage to send out private help (and yes, contact the race directors to see if they could coordinate something.) I would only hit 911 if I believed I was in a life-threatening situation. And I didn't want to tell them this, but in my mind, if my situation really required the immediate response of state authorities, it would very likely already be too late. I thought these were pretty safe, clear boundaries, to minimize the "trouble" that SPOT might cause. One might say I made the mistake of setting up these boundaries with my family, but then publicizing my page in a way that it could be viewed by well-meaning strangers who didn't understand.

    As far as JayP's very legitimate complaints, I'm not sure that applies to this race as much as other ultraendurance races where GPS trackers are set up more front and center. Most people using the device in this race had fairly private SPOT pages, set up for mostly personal reasons that had very little to do with the whole voyership issue. The Iditarod Dog Sled Race uses GPS trackers, and I've not yet read something about mushers complaining that they ruin the mystique. Yes, it's true that those trackers aren't public information, but the point is someone out there is watching. That someone reported that Lance Mackey took a wrong turn today. What if he didn't want anyone to know that?

    Anyway, sorry to hijack this thread with SPOT discussions when it should be about the amazing feats of stregnth out on the trail. It's just an interesting issue, and one that is probably going to have to come front and center sooner or later in most backcountry "races."

  76. #76
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    The seven "P's" have won this race more often than technology (or hi tech in this case). I can understand why people are drawn to these races-just look at xc racing at the highest level. It's damned near roadie, so the hard core folks gravitate to the endurance events where people still have their feet on the ground. I don't fault those of you who chose to carry the SPOT, after all, families are involved, and these things aren't worth dying over. But it does remove a critical element of the unknown. I am all for removing race radio in the pro peloton. How many of us don't even know our close friend's phone numbers because we rely on speed dial? It's all too easy to get wrapped up in this 24hr world we live in.
    None of this is meant to judge Billy, or anyone else in the race in a negative light. I suppose people not having access to this info would have solved the problem. I'm with Jay on this one.
    Speedway Cycles owner http://fatbackbikes.com

  77. #77
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    A SPOT policy would help

    First off, I 'm very glad to hear Billy's OK. Mike's right about the use of tech out there on the race course, no getting around that. But I can see BillM's point as well. In this case it seems that the meaning of any prearranged signals to Billy's friends and relatives were not relayed to the race directors who had to suffer through unneeded angst and worry, not to mention having to take heat from the State Troopers and press. We have to remember that a good percentage of the general public seem to think that races such as this are totally insane so let's not give them any ammunition to get the race banned.

    I'm not sure if it's possible, but maybe some kind of race policy is needed concerning the use of these gadgets and making sure that any kinds of prearranged behind the scenes signals using the help button are relayed to the race officials. I'm generally not in favor of more policies and rules, but it could have saved a lot of general panic and confusion in this case. I'm not pointing any fingers here, I just hope that maybe we can learn a lesson from this and move on.

    We want Bill and Kathi to continue to put the race on every year. There are very few people who would be willing to tackle the risks and logistics of putting a race like the ITI on every year. Reducing the worry factor and unneeded stress for them will help.

    Great job out there everyone.
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  78. #78
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    Personally, the SPOT is a private use item for my wife and I'd probably be dead before I push that 911 button. I actually can't argue either way b/c I agree with the pros and cons but you guys are forgetting that you can type pre arranged messages in to SPOT too, like "please bring pizza and beer at this time", or "JP and Tracey are passing me but they are the coolest" or my favorite "this sucks, i'm tired but i'm still going"

  79. #79
    Bill M
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    Privacy Lost

    Thanks to all who are commenting on my "rant" I do have to come up with a policy about these things before next year's race and I take into consideration anything our veteran racers have to say. It is for them I loose more hair (not much left) and sleep every year to make this happen so I can see everyone out there once a year. If liability would allow it I would ban these stupid things but it won't. It goes against all I hold sacred and does steal something from most of us to allow them out there. To me it would be better if folks carried a sat phone or ELT if they or their family need a security blanket.

    http://www.adn.com/iditarod/2009/story/722573.html

    We aren't the only ones having this conversation about what this GPS tracking takes away from us who go out on the Trail to get away from it all. See above link.
    I didn't mention everything the spots goofed up this year. Early in the race we were alerted to one racer's spot showing him in Trapper Creek. Should we have sent someone out to see if he had taken the Klondike 300 trail? Turned out he had lost his toy and it was picked up by a snowmachiner. The constant phone calls from another racers family everytime the thing didn't send a regular signal were bad enough but the liability for Kathi and I if we ignore these things or ban them all together could cost us what little we have.
    Global Star supports these big brother machines and from what I have heard from those who have used global star phones here say their Alaska coverage is very "spotty". Can you imagine if we had 50 of these things we would have to hire a couple of folks just to deal with distraught friends and family when they didn't get regular signals.
    And Al that is only part of the story. I was alerted to Billy's help message and called Iditarod who contacted their people in the air and on the ground. They are the ones who found Billy and took him to the checkpoint ,"Hypothermic with a bad knee" is the word I got from the Iditarod officials. I offered to send a plane for Billy and they told me not to worry they would get him to McGrath. Thank you Iditarod!!!
    As soon as I got off the phone after alerting Iditarod I got the call from the trooper with an attitude. I felt I had done the best thing already but had to tell the trooper that anything Billy's wife ask of them superseeded (sp?) anything I said or had done.
    Again thanks for all the input and lets hope I don't have to ruin our race by putting support teams on the trail because of some stupid techy device. Just a side note but Paul Klaus told me last year the success rate for mountaineers that he flys in plummetted when most groups started carrying Sat phones. Imagine that!

  80. #80
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    Out! Out! Damned Spot!

    Lady MacBeth's sentiments, not mine...I do feel that the SPOT system has a very legit place in the adventure / edpedition cyclist's ensemble. As pointed out previously, the messages sent can be customized, at least to some extrent, though it is also uber important to make sure that your loved ones are "in" on the messages' intent. Could mean the difference between loosing a foot / feet or just a couple toes to frostbite, for instance.

    As pointed out earlier, having the equipment is not enough...you must be intimately familiar with its function AND its capabilities, or more importantly, its limitations. AND you must feed the beast...If it can't or won't use AA lithium batts, it's not going with me (GPS, SPOT, VHF, Sat Phone, Camera, mp3). Just try plugging your rechargeable Serius Sattelite radio / mp3 player into a willow bush 75 miles from nowhere...Now, what happens when your GPS with a rechargable goes dead in the middle of a whiteout? GOTTA use lithiums, though even they appreciate the warm embrace of a Grabber handwarmer below 0 f.

    As for the racing scene...I guess it depends on the course / location and level of availible support. If my friends and I put on a race out here, SPOT will probably be mandatory equipment and will be supplied by the Race Committie for the duration of the race. With the SPOT, you virtually eliminate the need for personnel at most / all checkpoints. Imagine the logistical load off the organizers' shoulders, heck they might even get to race instead of man a table in a village... but , as pointed out, there must be a standard in place, so far as how and when to use the device. So far as other racers knowing where you are on the course...I mean, get real. How many of you ITI racers carried laptops with sattelite uplinks on the trail? Big deal if they could check-up on you while they are at a check-point...that's where people have always checked-up on other recers..." yeah, I passed him on my snowmachine about three hours ago, looked like he was just breaking camp...trail is cr@p, he'll be pushing until he passes the waterfall..." Judging by the ammount of chatter on the forums, these SPOTs have increased the "viewability" of the race, and therefore the marketability of racing...maybe future races will have sponsors and prize money. Would that really be so bad? It would definately lead to more rapid advances in Fat Bike specific components...

    The SPOT system has some shortcomings, ssomewhat questionable service in parts of AK, only 3 pre-programmable messages, no safety cover over the help or 911 message buttons, but you know what, it is one heck of a start and will find a place in my pile-o-gear

  81. #81
    Bill M
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    Quote Originally Posted by damnitman
    Lady MacBeth's sentiments, not mine...I do feel that the SPOT system has a very legit place in the adventure / edpedition cyclist's ensemble. As pointed out previously, the messages sent can be customized, at least to some extrent, though it is also uber important to make sure that your loved ones are "in" on the messages' intent. Could mean the difference between loosing a foot / feet or just a couple toes to frostbite, for instance.

    As pointed out earlier, having the equipment is not enough...you must be intimately familiar with its function AND its capabilities, or more importantly, its limitations. AND you must feed the beast...If it can't or won't use AA lithium batts, it's not going with me (GPS, SPOT, VHF, Sat Phone, Camera, mp3). Just try plugging your rechargeable Serius Sattelite radio / mp3 player into a willow bush 75 miles from nowhere...Now, what happens when your GPS with a rechargable goes dead in the middle of a whiteout? GOTTA use lithiums, though even they appreciate the warm embrace of a Grabber handwarmer below 0 f.

    As for the racing scene...I guess it depends on the course / location and level of availible support. If my friends and I put on a race out here, SPOT will probably be mandatory equipment and will be supplied by the Race Committie for the duration of the race. With the SPOT, you virtually eliminate the need for personnel at most / all checkpoints. Imagine the logistical load off the organizers' shoulders, heck they might even get to race instead of man a table in a village... but , as pointed out, there must be a standard in place, so far as how and when to use the device. So far as other racers knowing where you are on the course...I mean, get real. How many of you ITI racers carried laptops with sattelite uplinks on the trail? Big deal if they could check-up on you while they are at a check-point...that's where people have always checked-up on other recers..." yeah, I passed him on my snowmachine about three hours ago, looked like he was just breaking camp...trail is cr@p, he'll be pushing until he passes the waterfall..." Judging by the ammount of chatter on the forums, these SPOTs have increased the "viewability" of the race, and therefore the marketability of racing...maybe future races will have sponsors and prize money. Would that really be so bad? It would definately lead to more rapid advances in Fat Bike specific components...

    The SPOT system has some shortcomings, ssomewhat questionable service in parts of AK, only 3 pre-programmable messages, no safety cover over the help or 911 message buttons, but you know what, it is one heck of a start and will find a place in my pile-o-gear
    I am sure glad Lady McBeth isn't organizing this thing. Were you around in 2001? I am not trying to get sponsorship or market the race to provide prize money. If folks don't like the way we do it they can find other races where they have babysitters! Don't mean to sound short but here is my race philosophy from our website. It was written in 2007:

    It was in Rohn as our trail breaker I had the good fortune this year to meet Joe May one of the legends and winners of the early Iditarod Sled Dog Races. The history lesson for all of us at the Rohn cabin that night cannot be bought or read in books. The stories of dog races in the early days told with a lot of humor fascinated us and kept us laughing. The more I listened the better I felt about the philosophy of the Iditarod Trail Invitational. When Alaska Ultra Sport was formed 6 years ago with the input of several veteran racers we all agreed support should be kept to a minimum. Winning or even finishing in the extremes of Alaskan winter weather would depend on how comfortable the racer may be with their abilities, level of experience and amount of risk they are willing to take. We differ from other races in that we allow racers to make the decision for themselves about what to carry, when to rest and when it is safe to travel. There is no designated route only mandatory checkpoints racers must pass through. As a race organizer it would be much less stressful to have all the rules, restrictions and support offered in other races but as a racer I want to make and be responsible for my own decisions. We try to limit the amount of support to just what is necessary to prevent our race from imposing on lodges and other folks along the trail when things don’t go as planned. Words from a story told by Joe May say it best and I am paraphrasing, “Some times when you offer too much support you cheat the true adventurer out of a big part of why they are in the race. They come to race, to confront and hopefully overcome what ever is thrown their way. To solve problems for them diminishes the experience.”
    Listening to those stories from someone who experienced the early days of the Iditarod Trail made me sure I want to preserve this philosophy of adventure and experience for all who qualify and choose to participate in the Iditarod Trail Invitational.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    Jay - Congratulations to you and Tracey, total rock stars!

    Speaking only on the spectating note - I think they take away allot of the mystery that this race has. It's always a nail bitter to wait and hear of the reports from Rohn, and Nikolai. Having Spot's involved takes that away if people start carrying them.

    I think they have a place like Alhansen mentions - Piece of mind for family / inexpensive (& somewhat unreliable) epirb. But I think they are an oxy-moron for wilderness races in most other aspects.
    eric, i agree with you 100% on the spectating note. A lot of spectators seem to like being able to track racer's every move, but I think it's a lot more exciting when you don't know exactly where everyone is out there. this year while everyone was holed up at the pass there was so much excitement building about what would we finally hear (if anything) from Rohn, but then all of the sudden when it was reported that Alec's spot was over the pass and on the move down to Rohn it felt to me like certain amount of air was let out of the balloon of anticipation. If everyone were being tracked that entire time (like the dogsled race this year) there never even would have been much of an anticipation buildup in the first place.

    i also noticed this a lot this summer after I dropped out of the GDR (pretty sad that all of my examples in this post revolve around me dropping out of a race) and continued following Tour Divide and GDR progress online. at first it seemed really cool that I could just look at a webpage and see where everyone was in the Tour Divide, but then I quickly discovered that for me that took almost all of the excitement out of continuing to follow the race's progress because there was never any mystery about where anyone was.

    BTW, if anyone is thinking of getting a SPOT I think i'm going to be selling one soon

  83. #83
    KuskoRiverCruiser
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    SPOT Management...

    If SPOT devices are to be used in wilderness races...they will HAVE TO BE managed by 'the race' officials...no way around it! No independent SPOT users...period! Otherwise it becomes the potential cluster**** that Bill had to deal with.

    It would be really easy for race officials to set up a standard profile in SPOT which all users are required to use. The profile could include race managed priorities for each SPOT feature ( check, help, and 911). This which would put 'the race' management in charge of any followup or rescue efforts.

    Racers should carry the financial burden for hitting the help and/or 911.

    Racers BYOSpot....each device has it own ID and # associated that can be logged and is carried by any and all messages...Spot monitoring of racers (their choice!) would carry a fee! Bill is right...someone has to manage it...time is money!

    For competitive racers who want to remain incognito...the SPOT allows you to choose who you share your pings with...if desired, only race officials could / would know.

    Loved ones or any others following racers' SPOT's...need to know that 'the race' is in charge of any and all followup to helps and 911s...they are mere observers....if they choose not to adhere and interfere there should be penalties...severe penalties. I agree with Bill the last thing you want is some emotional armchair calling in officials and rescues! (I think anyone who has been in Alaska wilderness, for any length of time, doing risk-taking activities, has at least one of those 'been there done that' stories)

    As far as coverage goes...everyone knows (maybe they don't) that there are dead-spots associated with any and all communications devices...ahhh, thats why we climb the hill to get that line of sight, right...no diff. with SPOT...those limitations can be recognized and attended to.

    Of course there are those who choose not to use one...soooo don't carry one...NBD!

    The technology isn't BAD...'Technology' is like a 'firearm' - its only as good (or bad) as the people using it.

    I think there are a lot of potentially positive uses for SPOT in this type of race...esp in terms of race management of inexperienced participants.

    Cheap insurance...but isn't it always trading one liability for another...go figure!

    The fact that this conversation is even happening shows that the race and those associated with Iditarod Trail Invitational act responsibly and 'take care of their own'

    Good job Bill and Kathi. Congrats on another successful season!


    Martin
    Last edited by qayaq_alaska; 03-14-2009 at 06:15 PM.
    Martin
    "The pursuit of truth and adventure is far more noble a task than looking for work",
    http://fatbikealaska.blogspot.com/

  84. #84
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    "Damned SPOT"

    Bill, I don't want you to think I'm suggesting you change your race. You have the only event that still captures the mystique of the Iditarod Trail. Even the Iditarod is not the race it used to be. It was obvious to us in Nome that the level (and the influence) of sponsorship was changing the race through the mid Eighties and Nineties. I just can't imagine the musher's stories today hold a candle to those told in the early years. I'm just trying to figure out how to exploit the "Damned SPOT" and it's capabilities, though limited they may be...

    BIG PROPS to everyone involved in making the ITI the success it is...

    Oh, and my apologies to Kathi for possibly jumping the gun and dropping her an e-mail when Bob O's SPOT looked like it was heading off-course...

  85. #85
    I'm from Utah
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    Bill, it sounds to me like maybe you should consider banning SPOT devices and other GPS trackers from the race altogether. If you set up GPS tracking "rules" or boundaries and set the race up to officially sanction them, you may be viewed as legally liable for any rescues mounted as a result of SPOT signals. At least this year, with the independent SPOTs, people were largely responsible for themselves and their own expenses.

    Iím a little surprised SPOT seems to create more headaches for you. I would think even spotty GPS tracking would minimize the calls from hysterical family members. I know that was my aim in carrying a SPOT.

    Human error absolutely is the cause of most problems in the backcountry. Last summer, I became hopelessly lost while hiking on a mountain ridge in the fog. I set out on the ridge thinking the fog was lifting, but instead it dropped lower and became thicker. I managed to get myself turned around and absolutely confused about which direction was which. If I hadnít had my GPS unit with me, I would very likely have had to spend a cold and wet night on the mountain (40 degrees and raining while I was up there) with minimal gear because I had set out for a day hike (I did have a bivy sack and fire starter, but was above treeline.) I had certainly made mistakes but I was pretty grateful for my GPS and compass that afternoon, which together helped me follow my orginal route out. It meant I lived long enough to learn from this mistake and not make it again. At the very least, I prevented myself from not showing up for work later that day, which may have led to a workplace call to Juneauís Search and Rescue. (Iím kind of with Phil on 911. Iíd rather go quietly into the night than have Search and Rescue sent out during a nonemergency and have Craig Medred write one of those 20-20 hindsight articles about me.)

    So I guess my point is, I like this technology, if only because it helps my mom sleep at night. Iíll probably continue to use it in future bike tours, hikes and other adventures. If thereís no room on the Iditarod Trail for nonfundamentalists like myself, so be it.

  86. #86
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    liability

    Jill, one of the problems with banning SPOT and similar devices is one of liability...it wouldn't take a very bright lawyer to prove negligence if someone lost a limb or life when the technology to affect a rescue is availible to the general public. Especially if the rider normally rides with one and was not allowed to...

    *Legal disclaimer*-it's not my fault...My Dad was a lawyer and a Judge...I can't help but see the liability thing...

  87. #87
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    Thank you notes...

    Not to change the subject, but the 350 is over, it was awesome, and I want close it out with a round of thank yous.

    Bill and Kathi could you provide addresses for the stalwart race volunteers who went out of their way to provide a good experience for us on the trail. As a rookie I was pleasantly suprised at how incredibly cool evryone was throughout the event.
    In particular: Rich Crain, Terry and Lisa Boyle,Jasper Bond, Rob Kehrer, Stepanie, Bonnie, Mike and Ingrid Jensen, Carl and Kirsten Dixon, the Perrins family and Sharon and Dick, Nick and Olene Petruska & Stephanie, Peter and Tracy Schneiderheinze, Michael Schoder, Dan Esai, Zoe, Emily, Tony Allen, Irene May ... yes I cut and pasted from your website but hey they really all made it happen; for me anyway.

    So let me know if I should send them all to you or please post addresses as privacy concerns allow.

    Thanks to you guys as well, what a great trip!

    Frank McGuire

  88. #88
    Beware of Doggerel
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    my $.02 of spotty logic

    Bill,

    I’m sorry to hear that you had hassles this year. I’ve missed the last couple races for a variety of reasons. But I think we all know that you and Kathi really put your heart and soul into this race every year.

    The spot can be a great device and I do see how it is a really good tool for those who want to use it but the rest of us and the race itself should be able to be left alone. It seems to me that Billy used it responsibly, and no problems were caused directly by him or his support network. I could even change my mind on this and use one myself someday but racers should not have to suffer from the race getting increased publicity/attention nor should organizers be burdened and forced to monitor someone’s personal (and optional) safety net.

    Adam
    Last edited by Adam; 03-16-2009 at 02:58 PM.
    I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill M
    And Al that is only part of the story. I was alerted to Billy's help message and called Iditarod who contacted their people in the air and on the ground. They are the ones who found Billy and took him to the checkpoint ,"Hypothermic with a bad knee" is the word I got from the Iditarod officials. I offered to send a plane for Billy and they told me not to worry they would get him to McGrath. Thank you Iditarod!!!
    As soon as I got off the phone after alerting Iditarod I got the call from the trooper with an attitude. I felt I had done the best thing already but had to tell the trooper that anything Billy's wife ask of them superseeded (sp?) anything I said or had done.
    Yeah, definitely "Thanks Iditarod", but Bill without your relationship to those folks they might have never known until Billy gimped into Iditarod or our rented Supercub flew out to pick him up. So, let me underscore this:"Thank you, Bill". I'm sorry you had to deal with that unreasonable polyester-pant clad official, I would have much rather been yelled at by them than had you know anything about it.

  90. #90
    Bill M
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    Nuff Said

    I started this tech or no tech discussion and appreciate everyone's comments and advice. If you have any other thoughts please email me: billmerchant@alaskaultrasport.com and let's get back to what's really important: Tim, Tom and Marco are pushing on into some really nasty conditions on the Yukon that all of us can only imagine. Tim and Tom left Greyling yesterday at 09:40 and Marco left Shageluk at 21:00 last night. They are pushing right into the teeth of a nasty downriver wind, whiteout conditions and temps reported from -20 to -40. Flashbacks to last year when Kathi and I were in the wind with Tim give me chills. Go guys and we're all hoping the wind just stops!!!!!!!

  91. #91
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    Go Go Go

    In the words of the great Andy Heading, "keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually you arrive".

    Words we can all live by, but especially those guys out on the trail. Hopefully they know it's warmer on the portage.....

    Thanks for everything, Bill.

    Pat

  92. #92
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    "let's get back to what's really important: Tim, Tom and Marco are pushing on into some really nasty conditions on the Yukon that all of us can only imagine".

    amen to that...

    Despite the conditions those guys have been experiencing they are making great time.I would estimate if Tim and Tom keep it up then a Nome finish in 23 or 24 days is on the cards.In my opinion time is secondary to a front street finish but its worth pointing out they are not hanging around out there.

    What was Tims time from Kaltag to Nome last year????

  93. #93
    Bill M
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    08 split times

    Hey Carl,

    This is Kathi.
    I have last year's split times.

    Kaltag: Tim Hewitt 3-11 12:01pm 3-11 out pm
    Nome finish: Tim Hewitt 3-19 8:28pm

    Boy Tim didn't deserve those winds again:
    This is off the NOAA weather:

    LOWER YUKON VALLEY-
    INCLUDING...MARSHALL...RUSSIAN MISSION...HOLY CROSS...GRAYLING...
    SHAGELUK...ANVIK..FLAT
    218 PM AKDT MON MAR 16 2009

    ...WIND CHILL ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL 12 PM AKDT TUESDAY...
    .TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY. LOWS 10 TO 20 BELOW. NORTH WINDS 20 TO
    30 MPH. LOCAL GUSTS TO 40 MPH. WIND CHILL TO 45 BELOW.
    .TUESDAY...MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS 5 BELOW TO ZERO. NORTH WINDS
    15 TO 30 MPH. WIND CHILL TO 45 BELOW IN THE MORNING.

    Go Tim, Tom and Marco!!

    Kathi

  94. #94
    I'm from Utah
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    Hard to comprehend the wind out there. The news blurbs from the Iditraod Dog Sled Race are pretty brutal:

    ... "At the back of the Iditarod pack, two dogs had perished and at least two rookies scratched after wrestling bitter cold between Iditarod and Shageluk."

    ... "Winds of 20 to 25 mph out of the north were stirring soft, loose snow into ground blizzard conditions, he said, and the temperature was about 20 degrees below zero."

    ... "The Iditarod's Bruce Lee was reporting that Hugh Neff from Skagway suffered serious frostbite on his face on the trail between Unalkaleet and Shaktoolik."

    Wishing an end to the wind and good footing for Tim, Tom and Marco.

  95. #95
    HowtoOverthrowtheSystem
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    Just noticed Pete was skiing this year! Love that little sled!

  96. #96
    Bill M
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    The 09 Race is Finished

    Tim Hewitt arrived in Nome to win this year's race in 25 days 9 hours and 29 minutes. Tim set a new southern route foot record and became the first person to finish the Trail 4 times human powered! I had lunch with Tim before he headed home and other than a few "wind scars" he didn't look like someone who had just pulled a sled all the way to Nome. Don't forget Tim you won a free entry to next years race! Marco Bernie arrived in Nome this morning at 3:00am to finish 2nd in 30 days 12 hours (corrected for daylight savings) and end this year's race. Congratulations Tim and Marco for hanging in there to finish well in what could be remembered as the year of the wind.
    Thanks to all of you who participated, supported and followed this year's Iditarod Trail Invitational. We hope to see all of you next year at Knik Lake.
    Bill and Kathi

  97. #97
    This place needs an enema
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    Words fail to capture how impressed I am by what Tim has been able to do out there the last several years. If I were trying to be "PC" I'd say he's 'first among equals' but since I don't usually swing that way I'd prefer to say that he's a man among boys.

    Awesome job Tim. Impressive, humbling, and at least one bridge farther than most of us can conceive of.

    All the best,

    MC

  98. #98
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    I second that

    Way to go Tim and everyone else in the race this year. Whew!

    Pat

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