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  1. #1
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    Self-support and safety. Expectations?

    (I posted this wihin another discussion thread here on the Endurance forum, but didn't want it to get buried there. So here it is, slightly edited.)

    People-

    Just got done reading some of the blogs from the recent Arrowhead 135. And I'm a bit baffled at how many people got into serious trouble out there this year.

    "So?" you're asking...

    We all (hopefully) know a lot about our gear from researching it, fiddling with it, using it in the field, and finding ways to make it lighter or do without completely. And that's good--the more we know the safer we might be out there.

    But one thing that seems to be missing is the knowledge of when to say 'when'. I say this because (in reading the blogs from the Arrowhead) it seems that many people had a 'short between the earphones' and decided to treat a 135-mile race at -30f like a 2 hour XC sprint. Which is to say that they made mistake after mistake after mistake, then instead of stopping and collecting themselves and realizing they had all the gear they needed to solve their own problems, they leaned (hard, in some cases) on others to bail them out.

    And that's bullsh!t.

    Relying on someone else to save your bacon is considered extremely bad form, and should be reserved for life-and-death situations. Literally. Sticking out your thumb because you're uncomfortable, chose poorly, or aren't thinking clearly is absolutely unacceptable in self-supported racing.

    We're all adults. We go to the mountains and the backcountry to find challenges and to push ourselves. In so doing, we accept a certain level of risk. That's as it should be. The missing ingredient is the common sense to ease off the throttle and realize that we're getting in over our heads. Everyone has a limit, and staying WELL below that limit when we're our own safety net isn't just a good idea, it's mandatory.

    Bottom line? You deliberately put yourself into this situation. You chose to be there. It follows that you should ride and think in such a way (proactively!) that you always (ALWAYS) have the ability to get yourself out of it.

    Just some food for thought for those planning to participate in any of the upcoming backcountry events. Keep it safe--the life/fingers/toes you save may be your own.

    MC
    Last edited by mikesee; 02-14-2007 at 11:12 PM.

  2. #2
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    Two thoughts:

    The stated "no outside support" allowed and the $100 entry fee seem at odds. Letter of the law aside, I think it likely that such a level of investment is going to buy an entitlement of some kind, be it only mental. The numerous reports of snowmachine support crews sweeping for racers seems to support this. Note, I am not questioning that these funds were put to good use.

    "Expedition/wilderness racing" is an almost inherently problematic experience. Those with a racing background aren't going to understand how one tiny f&^% up can lead to your death so innocuously, wilderness types may not understand the depths to which you can sink when the tank is really and truly empty. The patience to figure out both is not a thing very intensely rewarded in our culture.

    Don't die.

  3. #3
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    My Take

    Quote Originally Posted by ionsmuse

    "Expedition/wilderness racing" is an almost inherently problematic experience. Those with a racing background aren't going to understand how one tiny f&^% up can lead to your death so innocuously, wilderness types may not understand the depths to which you can sink when the tank is really and truly empty. The patience to figure out both is not a thing very intensely rewarded in our culture.

    Don't die.
    First of all, Mike I think you are coming from a place that alot of people don't have the priviledge of coming from. Your perspective is deep, your common sense seems to be one of your greatest assets in figuring out the ways to survive and thrive in less than ideal situations. In other words, it's a gift not many have.

    I'm not giving excuses here, just saying that some people study hard and do well on the test, some don't have to study much and seem to do well on the test anyway, and some just won't pass the test whether they study or not. At least that's been my observation.

    ionmuse has made a great point here and one that is salient to the Arrowhead experience this year in particular. That being how fast things can go from great to near death. The conditions demanded a level of competency that was alot higher than most could train for or expect. The price paid for this unpreparedness was high, and could have been higher.

    I think what you are trying to point out and what ionmuse is also hinting at is that one needs to focus as much on when to pull the plug almost as much as one does to complete the event, and being able to do either well is to be celebrated. At least in terms of events of this nature. (sorry, no pun intended)

    My feeling is that it takes alot of mental discipline and calmness to finish, to get yourself out of trouble and continue, or to bail out. Some might disagree with the bailing out, but in an event that demands the price of your digits, or even your life for one or two mistakes, I don't think that it's always easy to see when to take a bow. That was made obvious in the stories I read about the Arrowhead.
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  4. #4
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    I entered Iditasport twice, once in '96 (350 mile 'out to Little Su, up the river and back again') and the '97 (100miler). The only time I'd ever experienced -30 was in a frozen food warehouse where I spent a night during my training - just to make sure in my own mind that my kit was up to keeping me alive if I had to camp out.

    I completely agree with Mike's (very experienced) comments, and have always been under the impression that on this sort of race you very much are on your own, with some vague hope of backup/at least someone looking out for you if you don't show who might come looking...

    Is it true that the over-the-counter availability of performance snow equipment (Pugsley, etc) has led to people getting sucked into these sort of races where previously it was only possible to enter WITH the experience/fact finding/reality facing of old?

    My training involved doing quite stupid things, in as hostile conditions as I could in the UK, including jumping into rivers, in the dark, and then changing my clothes and setting up camp for the night - to have the knowledge that if I had to, I could...

    In the UK we're used to hearing about people who buy expensive 4x4's and then get them stuck on remote hill tracks, or even have them swept out to sea/sink in sand... is what we're seeing a wheeled version of this?

  5. #5
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    I Know I'm Out...

    Here's my 2Ę (in reality worth much less)

    With me, anytime I hear "self supported" or "orienteering" I'm out. I mean I've done my share of big mileage backcountry rides both here in PA and places like Colorado. But ONLY when I know the routes well, have maps, folks know where I am, I know "bail out" points etc., etc.,

    I admire the folks with the courage and talent to do the unsuppored stuff, and personally I feel that it's a two way street. The racer has to know what he/she is getting into and make sure they are prepared for any situation. And I feel the promoter has to make the folks aware that sh*t could happen. If it does, here are some reccomondations and here is plan of action.

    Event when an event is low key and "promoting" is nothing more than saying a bunch of us are gonna race "X" loop, winner gets a case of beer" You have to know that folks of varrying abilities are going to show up. At the very least head counts need and a sweeper rider would be cool.

    Supported races work best for me being that I'm marginal at best with a wrench and get lost on marked courses

    Racer know your limitations! It's supposed to be hard AND fun. Pushing one's self is part of the fun, but damn not worth ending up dead.

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  6. #6
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    Hmmmm...

    This is an interesting thread. Not sure if I should bite, but I think that the Arrowhead, and other races like it, should take notice.

    I think there are a couple of important things to consider when commenting on this.

    First, intended vs actual
    Second, life vs death

    There is an intended use for almost every product. There is also the actual use of a product. Sometimes they match and the product is used in the exact environment for the design. However, we all know that many products get used for "other" uses outside the ideal conditions. In this case, the event had extreme circumstances and even the most experienced riders were crushed. Yeah, some made it. Good for them. They are gifted, lucky to be alive and they can hang their hat on survival for the rest of their lives.

    Regarding the conditions. While I agree that you need to be a big boy or girl and be prepared. Cold conditions do crazy things with your mind and the fine line between life and death is a thin one. I lived in northern MN for the first 18 years of my life. It is extreme. The extreme conditions of this event were in fact life threatening. It is easy to talk about you got into this, get yourself out...and yes Mike, you are a star and have worlds of experience. However, I think you should be careful as individuals and families involved put their own lives on the line to save some of these experienced riders.

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  7. #7
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    Wasn't there a post by someone reporting on the Arrowhead 135 that said that a competitor was in the hospital, and that his doctor told him, in regards to his feet, to "prepare for the worst and hope for the best"? To me, that sounded like he may be looking at a single or double amputation.

    I knew this race was out of my league and didn't enter it. Others, for whom it was also out of their league, may not have known how unprepared they were and still entered. So what do you do with the unprepared? Let them freeze to death as a lesson? Use criteria such as white patchy skin or hard toes/fingers before allowing them a snowmobile tug back to their car?

    This was an extreme race with extreme consequences. I say let Darwin sit on the sidelines on this one. Yes, the people who needed to bail out and lean on support in an unsupported race were foolish. But at least due to the kindness of the race volunteers they are fools with most of their digits left.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salsa Cycles
    The extreme conditions of this event were in fact life threatening. It is easy to talk about you got into this, get yourself out...and yes Mike, you are a star and have worlds of experience. However, I think you should be careful as individuals and families involved put their own lives on the line to save some of these experienced riders.
    Jason
    Jason-

    Thanks for chiming in. I think that you and are I using slightly different words to say the same thing. The fact that non-racers had to put their lives on the line to save participants in a recreational event is what angers me. With a tiny bit of forethought and a lot less ego this was 100% preventable.

    Thanks for helping me to clarify.

    Cheers,

    MC

  9. #9
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    I don't like it cold

    So I'm probably never going to do any of this type of racing.....

    Don't people have to apply for spots in addition to there entry fee? Doesn't mean your putting your life in the race organizers hands?

    Don't do it if you don't have the knowledge or experience to do it. Maybe this is getting to popular with the outside magazine reading yuppie lawyers who don't really know what they are getting them selfs into.

    Whats the saying plan for the worse, hope for the best

    I've kept most of my cold riding to were I know the trail super well and have places to bail if needed. I don't think I have the knowledge to to this type of racing. So i'm planning to stay away until I have alot more miles under my belt. Even doing things like the Colorado trail, gdr, ktr, ect Be very very careful understanding what your getting your self into.

    This is a very good thread we do need to reflect on the mistakes our own and others...

    Mikesee have you needed to be bailed out ever? Or felt you were way over your head?
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  10. #10
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    I was there...the race went off great, everyone helped, it was as it should be...next thing you guyz will be talking about who to sue....Only in America

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieFarrow
    I was there...the race went off great, everyone helped, it was as it should be...next thing you guyz will be talking about who to sue....Only in America
    Everyone helping is not self-supported. I think that is what Mike has an issue with. Maybe some of these races need to take a look at whether or not they want to be truly self-supported. In some cases, it might just not be practical to do it.

    It goes against the self-supported spirit to rely on Joe the snowmobile guy to haul you out, or Bill the ATVer having fun in Rabbit Valley to fill your pack and fix your tire.

    In Mike's own words, from his KTR rules:

    And (here's the important part) while there are other people out there riding, 4-wheeling, camping, etc... the spirit of the race is to not lean on these people for assistance unless you're in a bad situation that can't be solved on your own. That means a broken leg or a broken frame. Just because you decided to skip filtering water at the last creek does not mean that someone else should come to rescue your dehydrated carcass. If you bring a CO2 inflator instead of a pump, and it malfunctions or you run out of cartridges, don't ask someone else to save your ass. Start hoofing it and, as you walk, think about the error of your ways.
    I think part of having a good race plan, is knowing how to bail. It is easier said than done.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Jason-

    Thanks for chiming in. I think that you and are I using slightly different words to say the same thing. The fact that non-racers had to put their lives on the line to save participants in a recreational event is what angers me. With a tiny bit of forethought and a lot less ego this was 100% preventable.

    Thanks for helping me to clarify.

    Cheers,

    MC
    As I understand it, you entered and failed to complete Trans Iowa V1, correct? I tried and failed at Trans Iowa V2, so I am in the same boat. My wife came out and rescued me. If my facts are right, someone had to have come out and rescued you. Maybe it was your wife, maybe someone else, but someone picked you up. In other words, in some sense you were underprepared. JUST LIKE THESE PEOPLE. Now add -30 degree temperatures to the scenario, and you have what these people in the Arrowhead 135 were dealing with. The ONLY difference between you and them is that they failed where no-rescue by volunteers would have meant death. You failed where no rescue would have meant having to have a taxi drive out to some obscure dirt road to pick you up.

    So unless my facts are completely wrong and you weren't on the roster for TI V1, and unless you never needed help from anyone for any self-supported race that you ever participated in, you are preaching from hypocrisy.

  13. #13
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    "Anger?"

    Academic theoretical discourse on the meaning of "support" is fine, maybe even worthwhile for those with the time. The 1st amendment allows Mike See to feel and express his "anger" or empathy or whatever for those that he dramatically proclaims 'layed their lives on the line" by riding their snowmachines over on a DNR Snowmobile trail to help out with some of the racers, a trail, by the way, that parallels a major highway some four or five mile away....I just want everyone to know that the Arrowhead 135 is a great event, put on by dedicated, harworking, wonderful folks...The event was well organized, conceived, and planned. As a community we need to support these kinds people. Races like the Arrowhead carry inherent risk...so what? If you don't want risk stay home...play video games, or ride the big super events like the 12 hours @ 9 mile where you are never w/o immediate support.
    Charlie

  14. #14
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    I don't think the merit of the race or it's organizers has ever been in question here.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    As I understand it, you entered and failed to complete Trans Iowa V1, correct? I tried and failed at Trans Iowa V2, so I am in the same boat. My wife came out and rescued me. If my facts are right, someone had to have come out and rescued you. Maybe it was your wife, maybe someone else, but someone picked you up. In other words, in some sense you were underprepared. JUST LIKE THESE PEOPLE. Now add -30 degree temperatures to the scenario, and you have what these people in the Arrowhead 135 were dealing with. The ONLY difference between you and them is that they failed where no-rescue by volunteers would have meant death. You failed where no rescue would have meant having to have a taxi drive out to some obscure dirt road to pick you up.

    So unless my facts are completely wrong and you weren't on the roster for TI V1, and unless you never needed help from anyone for any self-supported race that you ever participated in, you are preaching from hypocrisy.
    Your facts are wrong. At TI I injured myself but made it to the next big town before pulling the plug.

    My rant above was intended to provoke discussion on this subject. It was not intended to be a finger-pointing or blame laying session--in any direction. That's counterproductive to the original point.

    Dig?

    MC

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ionsmuse
    The stated "no outside support" allowed and the $100 entry fee seem at odds. Letter of the law aside, I think it likely that such a level of investment is going to buy an entitlement of some kind, be it only mental. The numerous reports of snowmachine support crews sweeping for racers seems to support this. Note, I am not questioning that these funds were put to good use.
    Good point. The problem becomes (especially as less experienced people dip their toes in the water) that the expectation will almost always be greater than what the promoter can provide. No contingency plan can cover 135 miles of trail, with racers spread out over dozens of miles on it. That's not a knock on any promoter, merely a mandate that racers be prepared for anything and everything.


    Quote Originally Posted by ionsmuse
    "Expedition/wilderness racing" is an almost inherently problematic experience. Those with a racing background aren't going to understand how one tiny f&^% up can lead to your death so innocuously, wilderness types may not understand the depths to which you can sink when the tank is really and truly empty. The patience to figure out both is not a thing very intensely rewarded in our culture.
    Really well put, Dave. That patience is possibly the highest reward from this type of racing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    First of all, Mike I think you are coming from a place that alot of people don't have the priviledge of coming from. Your perspective is deep, your common sense seems to be one of your greatest assets in figuring out the ways to survive and thrive in less than ideal situations. In other words, it's a gift not many have.
    If it is indeed a gift, it's one that's come at the expense of years of suffering and making mistakes while way the hell out there.


    I'm not giving excuses here, just saying that some people study hard and do well on the test, some don't have to study much and seem to do well on the test anyway, and some just won't pass the test whether they study or not. At least that's been my observation.
    I mostly agree. If your implication is that this comes easy for me, you're mistaken. I've been doing this sort of thing for ~13 years competitively, and my whole life recreationally. I've made boatloads of mistakes and had lots of opportunity to learn from them.


    I think what you are trying to point out and what ionmuse is also hinting at is that one needs to focus as much on when to pull the plug almost as much as one does to complete the event, and being able to do either well is to be celebrated.
    Bang! Nail on head. And not just pulling the plug, but (read Bill Shand's story) sometimes just reassessing where you are and easing back on the throttle to simply finish, regardless of time/placing.

    My feeling is that it takes alot of mental discipline and calmness to finish, to get yourself out of trouble and continue, or to bail out.
    Zackly. And some (inexperienced) people can't/don't/won't stop to think for a second about what they're doing, where they are, and what the consequences of their decisions are. They just push blindly forward as though in an xc race. With consequences like life and limb on the line, this is pretty significant. I have way more respect for those that bailed early than those that blindly pushed forward and dug themselves holes that required outside assistance to be extricated from.

    Thanks for chiming in.

    MC

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieFarrow
    Academic theoretical discourse on the meaning of "support" is fine, maybe even worthwhile for those with the time. The 1st amendment allows Mike See to feel and express his "anger" or empathy or whatever for those that he dramatically proclaims 'layed their lives on the line" by riding their snowmachines over on a DNR Snowmobile trail to help out with some of the racers, a trail, by the way, that parallels a major highway some four or five mile away....I just want everyone to know that the Arrowhead 135 is a great event, put on by dedicated, harworking, wonderful folks...The event was well organized, conceived, and planned. As a community we need to support these kinds people. Races like the Arrowhead carry inherent risk...so what? If you don't want risk stay home...play video games, or ride the big super events like the 12 hours @ 9 mile where you are never w/o immediate support.
    Charlie
    Charlie-

    Racers interested in events like the A135 actively seek risk. This is good. I just want them to realize that it's not a video game, the consequences are real and you need to prepare for them or accept them. Preparation for said consequences does not include hailing cabs, but it does include knowing when to pull out the sleeping bag and bivy, or stop to build a fire, or to backtrack to the nearest road and get yourself outta there.

    MC

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlowerThenSnot
    Mikesee have you needed to be bailed out ever? Or felt you were way over your head?
    Yes (sorta), and yes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieFarrow
    I was there...the race went off great, everyone helped, it was as it should be...next thing you guyz will be talking about who to sue....Only in America
    I think you've missed the point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alizbee
    Everyone helping is not self-supported. I think that is what Mike has an issue with. Maybe some of these races need to take a look at whether or not they want to be truly self-supported. In some cases, it might just not be practical to do it.

    It goes against the self-supported spirit to rely on Joe the snowmobile guy to haul you out, or Bill the ATVer having fun in Rabbit Valley to fill your pack and fix your tire.

    In Mike's own words, from his KTR rules:



    I think part of having a good race plan, is knowing how to bail. It is easier said than done.
    Zackly.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by alizbee
    I don't think the merit of the race or it's organizers has ever been in question here.
    Agreed. If anything, I think the organizers may have done TOO MUCH, setting a dangerous precedent for ensuing years.

    MC

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    I am kind of with the moralach guy on this one

    It is not fair to shoot him down on his point. Yes you do present a topic for debate, and your opinion is pretty clear on how you think it should be. It is also fair to point out that your moral high road taken on the fact that "no support means no support at all" seems only to be valid when you are the one who does not need support. But when you do need support, you have taken it.

    So how can you or I debate the fact that under life or death circumstances, that you or I should die for the cause of remaining unsupported. You are by far very competent on long unsupported bike "races." But what if you fell, and broke your leg, or lost your gloves in a wind storm and got frostbite on your hands. We do not know. I sure would help you out, and likewise i would hope you would help me out. Unforeseen circumstances arise for even the most well prepared.

    keep this in mind when looking down at those who had to make such choices

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Your facts are wrong. At TI I injured myself but made it to the next big town before pulling the plug.

    My rant above was intended to provoke discussion on this subject. It was not intended to be a finger-pointing or blame laying session--in any direction. That's counterproductive to the original point.

    Dig?

    MC
    On the contrary, you just confirmed that my facts are right. You started TI V1 and dropped. The reason is inconsequential. Had you been in the Arrowhead 135 with the same situation you would have been driven somewhere on a snowmobile back to your car.

    People dropped in the Arrowhead 135 for a variety of reasons. I am sure that some stopped when they ran out of juice. They had undertrained. Some dropped when frostbite set in. There is evidently a guy in a hospital looking at the possibility of losing some body parts, and frankly he should have dropped out sooner. And finally I am sure that some dropped when they had normal cycling injuries that had nothing to do with the cold, similar to your excuse.

    The point of an extreme event is to challenge yourself. If you absolutely know you can do it, then it isn't a challenge and frankly isn't worth entering. Trans Iowa has become epic and has generated more hits on this endurance forum than any other thread because in two runnings they have had only eight finishers. Last year NO ONE finished. That has made people come out of the woodwork to see if maybe they can tackle and tame this beast. I think Jeff and Mark secretly rub their hands and chuckle thinking of all the people who won't finish.

    Again, the difference was that in Trans Iowa people were picked up by family or friends. Jeff and Mark have made it absolutely clear that there is no SAG support whatsoever. People have accepted that and have, to a man, gotten their own butts home when they broke down during the race. Trans Iowa was a totally different beast than Arrowhead because it wasn't in the middle of nowhere on snowmobile trails at -30 degrees. Unless the entry requirements start including having a friend ready on a snowmobile to pick you up in case of emergency, the organizers are going to have to either pick people up themselves in case of emergency or leave them to die.

    No one else is complaining. The organizers aren't complaining. The riders aren't complaining. Just you. You somehow think that these riders are too soft and the organizers didn't practice enough tough love. I am not sure how many toes, limbs, or lives would need to be lost for you to change your mind.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    No one else is complaining. The organizers aren't complaining. The riders aren't complaining. Just you. You somehow think that these riders are too soft and the organizers didn't practice enough tough love. I am not sure how many toes, limbs, or lives would need to be lost for you to change your mind.
    No no, he is saying the exact opposite. He is against people blindly pushing on, being tough and racing under circumstances that are over their heads. All Mike is calling for is for people to use common sense. Obviously if life is in danger, then you get help from anybody anywhere.

    The entire point is to make wise choices BEFORE life and limb are in danger.
    Last edited by alizbee; 02-14-2007 at 01:56 PM.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    The missing ingredient is the common sense to ease off the throttle and realize that we're getting in over our heads. Everyone has a limit, and staying WELL below it when we're our own safety net isn't just a good idea, it's mandatory.

    Bottom line? You got yourself into this situation, you should always (ALWAYS) have the ability to get yourself out of it.
    Not to speak for Mike, but it seems from his first posting that all he is saying is that the people that relied on outside support should never have gotten to that point. They should have had the common sense to stop, bivy up, build a fire, retreat, cut to the highway, etc... BEFORE needing the outside support. Hence the "always have the abilility to get yourself out".

    He's never mentioned anything derogatory about people bailing out or being unable to finish. He seems to be criticizing those that pressed on BEYOND that common sense limit, thereby putting themselves and others in danger.

    At least, that's my take on his initial post and I plan on heeding his advice as it is sound advice.

    thad

  26. #26
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    Late comer lurker comment

    Quote Originally Posted by alizbee

    The entire point is to make wise choices BEFORE life and limb are in danger.
    I think the difference is between being rescued and bailing out.

    I had the opportunity to do both last year, T.I. with Brian and then the Crested Butte Classic 100. Neither was *extreme* but the CB 100 crash invloved a seperated shoulder, losing all my water due to impact/ H20 bottle rupture. One involved a cell phone call, the other, help from 2 riders who assisted me 2 miles to the closest road, gave me water, helped me with a limp wing, and a someone else to help my very pregnant wife find me at ~9000ft. One was well orchestrated, one not. I was an Army Medic then an EMT and wilderness first responder. Thought I knew how to deal with problems but still had to rely on others for my own dumbassedness. Probably learned from more from the latter experience.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny5
    Not to speak for Mike, but it seems from his first posting that all he is saying is that the people that relied on outside support should never have gotten to that point. They should have had the common sense to stop, bivy up, build a fire, retreat, cut to the highway, etc... BEFORE needing the outside support. Hence the "always have the abilility to get yourself out".

    He's never mentioned anything derogatory about people bailing out or being unable to finish. He seems to be criticizing those that pressed on BEYOND that common sense limit, thereby putting themselves and others in danger.

    At least, that's my take on his initial post and I plan on heeding his advice as it is sound advice.

    thad
    Ahhhhhhhh.

    If that is indeed what Mike meant, I can understand where he was coming from. Your words, if they are Mike's meaning, were put much better. My take was what you were saying I was wrong on, that starting a race like this and then not being able to finish it was the bad thing.

    Ah, the glory of the internet and its ability to lose meaning in translation!

    Stopping before danger and making a camping trip out of it, to head home after the danger was past, would indeed be wise.
    Last edited by Morlahach; 02-14-2007 at 02:51 PM.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Relying on someone else to save your bacon is considered extremely bad form, and should be reserved for life-and-death situations. Literally. Sticking out your thumb because you're uncomfortable, chose poorly, or aren't thinking clearly is absolutely unacceptable in self-supported racing.

    Bottom line? You got yourself into this situation, you should always (ALWAYS) have the ability to get yourself out of it.

    MC
    I think these 2 paragraphs are those cause of some folks' consternation. Using words like ALWAYS is not a great choice as there is no way to be sure you will ALWAYS be able to get out.

    I agree that a few of the Arrowhead blogs made it very obvious that some of these guys were in over their heads before the race started. Getting dehydrated and hungry because you forgot to drink and your food was frozen points to lack of preperation, not conditions beyond your control.

    We're all adults. We go to the mountains and the backcountry to find challenges and to push ourselves. In so doing, we accept a certain level of risk. That's as it should be. The missing ingredient is the common sense to ease off the throttle and realize that we're getting in over our heads. Everyone has a limit, and staying WELL below it when we're our own safety net isn't just a good idea, it's mandatory.
    This paragraph sums it up best. Things beyond your control(broken bones/frames, cougar attacks, redneck beatdown), no shame in calling in help. Failing and needing the help of others because you underestimated the challenge at hand, shame on you.

  29. #29
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    Rant

    Interesting thread. I agree with Mike. First thingís first though, Pierre is a top shelf kind of guy and Iím sure the Arrowhead is first rate event. The problem isnít the event or the organizers its the racers, this could, and probably does, happen in any self supported event.
    But I donít think this the lack of preparedness or inability to know when to say when is a product of hubris or jackassery. I think that racers just donít understand what it means when they are told ďyour on your ownĒ. In fact a ďracerĒ mentality, (by which I mean a sort of goal oriented focus on winning) is not really suited to this type of event. Ironically this type of ďraceĒ is best suited for folks with back country experience, a sense of adventure and an appetite for camaraderie and competition on the trail. And I would put those attributes in that order of importance. If youíve spent time out in the wild, and you are alive, then you will have made mistakes and had to save yourself with no outside help. If you are okay with that then this style of racing is for you. I mean if you wouldnít head out and ride the course some random weekend when there is no race then maybe you shouldnít do the race. In my opinion, this style of racing just provides a pre-set route and some comforts for a trip that I might otherwise do on my own. If I wouldnít do it alone I wouldnít do the race. Make sense?
    So while I agree with Mike, I donít think the errors of the racers are really anybodyís fault. This is a new racing format and I really think that a lot of racer types just donít understand what is involved here. Touring/recreational cyclists and backcountry explorers know what this is about but racers arenít quite clued in to how this format works. For example my winter race gear and winter camping gear are more or less the same. These races do not begin at the starting line they begin 3 or 4 months before the race when you are going on overnight trips every weekend and testing and re-testing your gear. These races are won because when its -20 out you ride your bike to work AND that bike is loaded with either ballast or camping gear. In fact my race set up may actually be heavier than my camping set up. Mistakes happen and once word gets out about how this stuff works folks will either be prepared or find other outlets for recreation.
    I also agree with Slower than Snotís comment about outside magazine reading yuppie lawyers ruining the sport. Anytime I read something glamorizing the danger and ďextremeĒ nature of these kind of races I cringe. The joy in this type of racing is not in taking risks but in preparing for and minimizing risk, while seeking out a risky environment. The art is being able to walk into a dangerous environment with confidence because your prepared. Mistakes will happen. You can never be prepared for everything so being able to roll with the changes is vital. I donít know. I just think thrill seekers should look elsewhere for their rush. I live in Alaska there is always some media report somewhere about how ďextremeĒ some event is up here. That stuff just misses the point. There is joyful fun stuff to be found up here. You need to be prepared because the great outdoors are as dangerous as they are beautiful. Thrill seekers need not apply. Everyone else should come on up and have an adventure. Bad stuff might happen to you, but good stuff will too.
    I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.

  30. #30
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    Morlahach: Here's the facts.....

    On the contrary, you just confirmed that my facts are right. You started TI V1 and dropped. The reason is inconsequential. Had you been in the Arrowhead 135 with the same situation you would have been driven somewhere on a snowmobile back to your car.
    Mike was injured.....then he rode his bike to a safe place. Get your sequence of events correct. In how that relates to what Mike is saying, it means that he is consistent in this case. You get in trouble, you get yourself out, without endangering the lives of others, if at all possible. Mike did that at T.I.V1

    Nuff said.
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    I'm with Morlahach

    I guess first and foremost people should be helping others no matter what. Whatever reason they got themselves into any situation is their thing and our only RESPONSIBILITY is to do our best to help out. I'd even say that if someone didn't offer assistance to another in need they should be disqualified and banned from future events .

    Sometimes **** happens and sometimes people get in over their head but that's life in all it's realities.

    Dallas "efforts are what built society, *****ing is what holds it back " Sigurdur

  32. #32
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    Drop the Iowa thing, who cares?

    This is a pretty intense thread seeing that there are people in the hospital loosing toes right now.


    Itís a relative thing, if you drop out from a summer road race and get a ride.. who cares? Was your life ever in grave danger? No.

    This concept of self sufficiency should be inherent in the participantís minds, in what ever you do practically anywhere outdoors! One needs to evaluate the risks on your given course. During a summer road ride this may be as easy as packing a cell phone or some quarters to call from the nearest gas station. On a long mountain bike ride, it goes a step further. For winter, you should be prepared mentally and physically to handle the conditions and not die.

    Winter races, mountaineering expeditions, travels in no-mans land etc.. Getting through them in one piece all have the same things in common. Experience, preparation, confidence, experience.

    Putting oneís ego aside and accepting the humility to quit and get yourself out can be a difficult lesson to learn.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    Mike was injured.....then he rode his bike to a safe place. Get your sequence of events correct. In how that relates to what Mike is saying, it means that he is consistent in this case. You get in trouble, you get yourself out, without endangering the lives of others, if at all possible. Mike did that at T.I.V1

    Nuff said.
    Ted,

    I believe my understanding of events is correct, but that my point is not coming across. My point was that Mike took help. Period. Yes, he rode ahead to the next town, but he took help. He had the option for help from a spouse or friend because they were able to get to where he was. In the case of the Arrowhead 135 the same friend or spouse might not have been able to get to him. It is, after all, on a snowmobile track in the middle of nowhere. The only help to be had was from other racers or race volunteers on snowmobiles.

    Getting yourself out by your own steam due to good planning is of course the best. No one is arguing against that. But when someone makes a fool of themselves and is unable to, keeping that person alive is paramount. Making a point of not helping someone is just not cool.

    Listen to the following excerpt from the Arrowhead blog list. It was a guy who was indeed in over his head, made some bad decisions, and was in grave danger. His options were to refuse help when offered or to accept it as offered. If he had refused on principle I doubt he would be alive right now. He says he might do it again, and I hope that he doesn't.


    "I need help; I donít want to die out here. PJ says I donít like the spot were in letís go up a bit. There he cleaned a spot for my sleeping bag and bevy. Chris anderson was starting a fire. I could smell smoke. It smelled good. I was little help as my hands and core were so cold. I shimmied in my bag with much help from PJ. The navy guy caught up. He asked if I needed any food. I have pop tarts or Pringles.
    Pop tarts I said. They were discussing how much farther. Navy guy had a GPS.
    He says two and half miles. Wow Iím only two and a half miles away. Now Iím kind of mad that I didnít push on. Turns out that was as the crow flyís.
    They set off to get help. I was busy eating pop tarts in my bag shivering and hyperventilating. I had dropped crumbs all over the bottem of the sleeping bag. I sucked them up like a hoover. I couldnít understand why I couldnít control my breathing. Chris finch stops by and offers Coffee, I gladly take it. He puts it through the little hole in the bag. Its in a thermos, Problem is I canít open the thermos. My hands are still frozen. I tried opening it with my teeth but the cap was to big. I finally gave out a holler and twisted for all my might. It turned just a little. I did it again. Finally I will have warm coffee. I poured it and drank it while lying on my side. It dribbled down my face and on to the bag. I didnít care. I felt like a savage. I heard some one else coming. It was Mike Remer, Dude you need anything, Iíve got mints. Sure, He pops it in the little hole. Do you want me to sit with you? No itís ok. Good, any longer and I will need to bevy next to you. About half hour later I could here a sled. Thank God Iím saved. The guy is talking but I canít figure out what he is saying. I finally get out of the bevy sack. I instantly fall over. I get up again and fall over again. I started thinking Iím not that far gone. I walk towards the snowmobile and fall on to it. The snowmobiler realizes this is serious.
    We get on the sled and were flying. Iím just bouncing around. I thinking Iím going to die on this sled. We get to the lake he says throw your bevy over your head. I do and were flying. We fly into Mel Georges Thereís a crowd of people, they look at me like Iím half dead. I was very relived to be telling the story. Instead of them trying to figure out what happened. In hind site I did several things wrong. I was racing not surviving, not enough water.
    Not enough clothes. I would do it again. But it better be warmer. I owe my life to Patrick Ramstack, Chris Anderson, Don Gabrielson, Mike Riemer, Chris Finch"

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by alizbee
    No no, he is saying the exact opposite. He is against people blindly pushing on, being tough and racing under circumstances that are over their heads. All Mike is calling for is for people to use common sense. Obviously if life is in danger, then you get help from anybody anywhere.

    The entire point is to make wise choices BEFORE life and limb are in danger.
    Thanks for helping me out here, Adam. This IS the point I'm trying to get across.

    MC

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny5
    Not to speak for Mike, but it seems from his first posting that all he is saying is that the people that relied on outside support should never have gotten to that point. They should have had the common sense to stop, bivy up, build a fire, retreat, cut to the highway, etc... BEFORE needing the outside support. Hence the "always have the abilility to get yourself out".

    He's never mentioned anything derogatory about people bailing out or being unable to finish. He seems to be criticizing those that pressed on BEYOND that common sense limit, thereby putting themselves and others in danger.

    thad
    Yes, exactly. Thanks for putting the words down in a way that seems to make more sense.

    MC

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by brant@on-one.co.uk
    Is it true that the over-the-counter availability of performance snow equipment (Pugsley, etc) has led to people getting sucked into these sort of races where previously it was only possible to enter WITH the experience/fact finding/reality facing of old?
    Quite possible. Darn likely, actually.


    My training involved doing quite stupid things, in as hostile conditions as I could in the UK, including jumping into rivers, in the dark, and then changing my clothes and setting up camp for the night - to have the knowledge that if I had to, I could...
    Doesn't seem stupid at all to me. You wanted to create a 'worst case' scenario for yourself, the results of which were that you had a lot better idea of where your limits were in a hypothermic situation. Once you were on-course in AK, no doubt that experience helped to shape your decisions during the race. I think that's pretty damn smart, if not brilliant.

    Three during-race scenarios from last summer pop into my head when I think about this. The first was Scott Morris pulling the plug on the KTR very early on. As Scott put it later, (paraphrased) "I knew I had lost the ability to get myself out of the mountains under my own power". The second was Jim Ishman and Lee Blackwell on the GLR. Same deal--they both realized that the planets were not aligned for them on that go-round, so they pulled the plug. Bravo to all of them. Somewhere along the way, like you, they'd learned where their OWN personal limits lay, and knew better than to push them for the sake of a bike race.

    Thanks for chiming in, Brant.

    MC

  37. #37
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    Good stuff, I can't really add anything to what's already been written here. Be prepared, be aware of your physical and mental limits, think about consequences and tame that ego.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    The second was Jim Ishman and Lee Blackwell on the GLR. Same deal--they both realized that the planets were not aligned for them on that go-round, so they pulled the plug. Bravo to all of them. Somewhere along the way, like you, they'd learned where their OWN personal limits lay, and knew better than to push them for the sake of a bike race.
    Mike it looks like Jim made another wise decision at Arrowhead this year:

    Best wishes to everyone

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Conditions were brutal, coldest I have ever ridden a bike in by about 15 degrees. I normally beat myself up for dropping out of a race, especially so early but this one I made the right decision on.

    Hope everyone heals quickly..
    Ed E

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    The first was Scott Morris pulling the plug on the KTR very early on. As Scott put it later, (paraphrased) "I knew I had lost the ability to get myself out of the mountains under my own power".
    Here's what I wrote:

    "I had lost the ability to get myself out of the mountains, and continuing on would have likely meant leaning on someone else (either riders, 4◊4s or SAR folks)."

    Thanks for bringing this issue up Mike. Some very sobering thoughts.

    I want to emphasize something that Adam touched on. For competition's sake we have other riders on-course, even though the effort and support are both solo.

    But to some extent you can "get away" with being under prepared because there are racers all over the course. A certain Alaskan racer comes to mind. It's completely unfair to other racers who are prepared. It's unfair in terms of a level playing field but more so because prepared racers may need to risk their own safety to bail others out.

    That's not unsupported racing. That's pushing beyond your limit knowing that there is a backup system (other racers, snow mobiles, whatever) that can bail you out. I would call that supported racing, even though the support is not direct. It's a supported mindset.

    No one is suggesting people be left to suffer because they pushed too far. I don't know where some of you are getting that. The point is to not allow that to happen, as much as possible. What Mike is suggesting will make these events safer for everyone. Of course I’m going to help someone that’s in a bad way, regardless of how they got there, but what if that person could have gotten himself out of the situation an hour earlier? How much better would that have been?

    I wonder how decisions would have been different if each racer had been on the course solo, on different days. Would they have kept going? Kept making bad choices? Probably not. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that other people were on the course to “save” them, then?

    As Adam said, if you aren't comfortable doing the race route solo, you shouldn’t be participating in the event. I tell myself that for all purposes, I am racing solo, even though other people are out there. This worked so well that during the Grand Loop I completely forgot that anyone else was out there. Jefe? Jefe who?

    Things like a broken frame, broken bone, etc, don’t exactly have warning signs. There isn’t much you can do to prepare for them. You likely need help in these cases, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Here it is a good thing other people may be on course to find you / help you. But emphasizing the point in a different context, just because other people are on course doesn’t mean you can ride recklessly, taking chances on technical descents and risking a major crash. You should ride as though no one is there to bail you out.

    Or so it seems to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Sticking out your thumb because you're uncomfortable, chose poorly, or aren't thinking clearly is absolutely unacceptable in self-supported racing.
    Yes, but I do think there's a difference between sticking out your dehydrated thumb while out of water in Cisco and sitting in a random town in Montana, which you reached by your own power, waiting for a ride towards a bus station. In one case you are being rescued, the other you are fine (all amenities nearby) and just need transportation. Just wanted to clarify that since some people seem to be missing this point.
    Last edited by Krein; 02-14-2007 at 10:22 PM.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krein
    Thanks for bringing this issue up Mike. Some very sobering thoughts.
    That's what I was trying to do--give people something to think about so that they could stop and assess why they're out there, and if they're truly prepared to be out there. Sobering indeed.

    Things like a broken frame, broken bone, etc, donít exactly have warning signs. There isnít much you can do to prepare for them. You likely need help in these cases, and thereís nothing wrong with that. Here it is a good thing other people may be on course to find you / help you. But emphasizing the point in a different context, just because other people are on course doesnít mean you can ride recklessly, taking chances on technical descents and risking a major crash. You should ride as though no one is there to bail you out.
    I should have called you and had you write this to begin with. Your last sentence rings loudest for me, because in so many ways, it's likely that there will be no one there to bail you out.


    Yes, but I do think there's a difference between sticking out your dehydrated thumb while out of water in Cisco and sitting in a random town in Montana, which you reached by your own power, waiting for a ride towards a bus station. In one case you are being rescued, the other you are fine (all amenities nearby) and just need transportation. Just wanted to clarify that since some people seem to be missing this point.
    Clarification appreciated and agreed with 100%.

    Thanks for chiming in. Maybe we're getting somewhere.

    MC

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Thanks for helping me out here, Adam. This IS the point I'm trying to get across.

    MC
    I totally agree with you, Mike. The risk in these events is little different than the risks in mountaineering. It is easy for a novice to get into trouble and even for an experienced climber/rider to make mistakes. When these people take risks and lose it can put others (search & rescue--professional and volunteers, others in their group or in the event) at risk.

    Look at the recent climbers lost on Mt Hood. I always cringe when hearing these reports with the large number of searchers risking their lives--usually in terrible conditions--to find the guy that chose place himself at risk.

    If I ever choose to place myself in this type of risk and lose I do not even want anyone to endanger themselves to try to rescue me or recover my body
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  41. #41
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    Have bike (or maybe thumb) will travel

    Quote Originally Posted by Krein

    Or so it seems to me.



    Yes, but I do think there's a difference between sticking out your dehydrated thumb while out of water in Cisco and sitting in a random town in Montana, which you reached by your own power, waiting for a ride towards a bus station. In one case you are being rescued, the other you are fine (all amenities nearby) and just need transportation. Just wanted to clarify that since some people seem to be missing this point.

    While I agree with the main thrusts of your full post, ie:

    Know how/when to quit before you put yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to rely on outside help for your survival.

    And

    A self-supported racer should not plan on any form of “outside” “backup” “help” as a way to gain a competitive advantage.

    And

    A good self-test of your preparedness is the willingness to do the same course, solo, on a different day.


    BUT......
    I know suffering is supposed to be good for the soul, but help me understand why…

    Once a racer does decide to quit the race, for whatever reason, at whatever location, it make any difference how this then ex-racer decides to exit the course? As long as this ex-racer has choices on how/when they exit why does it matter how they choose to do so? Why is it ok to stick out your thumb if you are at a store but not on the road leading to the store? I propose that once the race is quit the only remaining responsibility to that particular event is to ensure the event organizer knows you got off the course ok. I think How said ex-racer gets to where ever they get to next is immaterial to everyone but them.
    (Note: No one would be out of water at cisco, think about it)
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    I believe my understanding of events is correct, but that my point is not coming across. My point was that Mike took help. Period. Yes, he rode ahead to the next town, but he took help. He had the option for help from a spouse or friend because they were able to get to where he was. In the case of the Arrowhead 135 the same friend or spouse might not have been able to get to him. It is, after all, on a snowmobile track in the middle of nowhere. The only help to be had was from other racers or race volunteers on snowmobiles.
    You have your facts wrong. I accepted no help. I got off the course under my own power, rode to a motel, and got a room, thereby DNF'ing the race. No one was asked to help me. No spouse or friend was there--I went to the race alone. No one (fellow racers) even knew I was in pain. It was my deal, and I neither asked for nor received help--I simply pulled the plug and ended my race when I knew I could delay it no longer.

    Speculation about how it might/might not have panned out with a similar situation at the A135 is just that--speculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    But when someone makes a fool of themselves and is unable to, keeping that person alive is paramount. Making a point of not helping someone is just not cool.
    Where has this been suggested or implied? ?!!?


    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    Listen to the following excerpt from the Arrowhead blog list. It was a guy who was indeed in over his head, made some bad decisions, and was in grave danger. His options were to refuse help when offered or to accept it as offered. If he had refused on principle I doubt he would be alive right now. He says he might do it again, and I hope that he doesn't.
    The point of this thread was for racers to think proactively, thereby avoiding this racer's situation entirely. Hungry? Eat. Bonked? Eat. Thirsty? Drink. Cold? Add a layer. Really, really cold? Build a fire and get into your bivy. Plumb tuckered and not sure you can make it? Eat, get into your bivy, eat some more, sleep til daybreak, then get up, eat, and keep moving. Wet clothes, bonked, out of water and out of energy at sunset at -30f? WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!

    Jeff Colbert (who happens to be a friend of mine) clearly needed help and I'm psyched that he got it from a lot of people. The lesson here is that Jeff (and he was NOT the only one) made MANY mistakes to get to that point. He was lucky he got help when/where he did. He then went on to write that account for all of us to read, detailing EXACTLY where he made his mistakes. The events of that night undoubtedly scared him silly. He said himself that those that helped him saved his life.

    I want others to learn from his mistakes so that they don't have to rely on luck to continue living.


    MC

  43. #43
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    Well said, Mike See and others...

    Pay your money
    Take your chances
    Know your limits
    Don't let others define your limits for you
    Be prepared for anything
    Know when to pull the plug.

    Trans Iowa? Puleeeeze. Zero comparison. Try riding the Yukon Quest "trail" as Mike did along with Pat Irwin at -50 and lower, when your inner tubes are so cold they crumble and your skin freezes on contact with the air.

    Wishing the best for those injured and that their injuries won't keep them off the trail in the future!
    Meanwhile, back at the hive....

  44. #44
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    debate?

    It's real simple. Stay the hell out of there if you are not prepared. Do not go. Volunteer to help instead. In the back of everyones mind, they know weather or not they belong out there. Regardless of Mikes past race decisions, he speaks the truth. If you can't see what is trying to be said here,you should probably stay home.

    akdeluxe
    Last edited by akdeluxe; 02-15-2007 at 01:51 AM. Reason: huh?
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  45. #45
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    You can die anywhere

    Quote Originally Posted by Queen Bee
    Pay your money
    Take your chances
    Know your limits
    Don't let others define your limits for you
    Be prepared for anything
    Know when to pull the plug.
    Excellent summation. Couldn't agree more.

    Trans Iowa? Puleeeeze. Zero comparison. Try riding the Yukon Quest "trail" as Mike did along with Pat Irwin at -50 and lower, when your inner tubes are so cold they crumble and your skin freezes on contact with the air.
    Point taken. However, you can die anywhere due to a bad decision, or a series of them. To die from exposure in sight of a farm house is a distinct possibility here in Iowa, as strange as that may sound. In fact, we had that exact thing happen to a lady who slipped and fell shoveling snow right here in my city.

    Not comparable? Maybe not in your eyes, but this is good information for all of us to digest, to ponder, and to spread to others. Let's not get into a pissing match to see whose event is most dangerous. That takes away from what Mike is trying to do here.

    Wishing the best for those injured and that their injuries won't keep them off the trail in the future!
    I whole heartedly agree and please add my sentiments in this regard.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    You have your facts wrong. I accepted no help. I got off the course under my own power, rode to a motel, and got a room, thereby DNF'ing the race. No one was asked to help me. No spouse or friend was there--I went to the race alone. No one (fellow racers) even knew I was in pain. It was my deal, and I neither asked for nor received help--I simply pulled the plug and ended my race when I knew I could delay it no longer.
    Wow. So you drove to the start, rode until injured, rode to a motel, DNFd, and stayed at the hotel until healed. Then you rode back to your car at the start? At no point a single person helped you?

    If this is correct, hats off to you and there is no hypocrisy and I am indeed ignorant. Was the intent to ride to the end, turn around, and ride back to the start where your car was parked? The logistics of this race were so difficult for one person to do that I assumed (incorrectly, it seems) that everyone was at least supported in getting to and from the race.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    But when someone makes a fool of themselves and is unable to, keeping that person alive is paramount. Making a point of not helping someone is just not cool.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Where has this been suggested or implied? ?!!?
    I felt this was implied when you said:

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    Agreed. If anything, I think the organizers may have done TOO MUCH, setting a dangerous precedent for ensuing years.

    MC
    What if the organizers looked at Jeff Colbert in his bivvy and assumed he was going to be ok. "Sure, he just fell down twice walking over to the snowmobile to talk to me, but he is prepared. There is a fire over there where his friends set one up. He is in a tent. He has food. He is obviously prepared." and then drove off. From the sounds of this story, he may or may not have made it, though on paper things looked pretty good for him at this point.

    When a storied self-supported racer gets on a forum and starts a thread saying that too much was done for foolish, underprepared riders, two messages can come away:

    1. Don't be a foolish, underprepared rider. I think this was your point, and I appreciate and understand it. I have no intention of doing this race because I know <u>I </u> would be a foolish, unprepared rider.

    2. Don't help foolish, unprepared rider. I think that this was implied by statements of yours such as that above. And this is what I want to prevent. I want to prevent an idea that helping foolish, unprepared riders is a bad thing. That tough love will help them to learn for next time. Because, if things go too bad, as they sound like they may have in several cases in this race, there wouldn't be a next time.

    I am probably the loudest critic on this thread of this second, inferred meaning. But there were others who had the same takeaway message as myself.

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    The Arrowhead--Great race

    YesÖthis is a well conceived notion. I also would to apologize to Mr. Curiak for misquoting him. The point I would like to make is that it seems to me that to use the recently completed Arrowhead 135 as a platform from which to discussion poor form and the unabashed use of support is reckless, counterproductive, or at the very least ďin poor form.Ē The overwhelming consensus amongst the participants in all three of the Arrowhead events has been that it is a top-notch event. I greatly appreciate the effort it takes to put on an event like the Arrowhead, so I passionately feel the need to protect its reputation. Also, there develops a sense of abstract experiential ownership among the participants in events like the Arrowhead which is essentially theirs and theirs alone. Do you understand what I am getting at? A dream of mine is to ride the Iditarod trail, but so far I have not done soÖA dream of mine is to ride across Greenland, but I have not done so. Therefore for me to judge others that have done these trips is somehow, to my way of thinking, academic, theoretical, and somewhat presumptuous. SorryÖcontinue on with your dialogue!
    Sincerely,
    Charlie Farrow

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    Missed the point

    Furthermore...Mike C. is correct, I think I may have missed his original point, a point that is worthy and important. Going headfirst into defense mode for the Arrowhead, I missed his salient point because I was unhappy about the Arrowhead being used in the context of a thread concerning "poor form" and the ill use of "support" in what is billed as an "unsupported" event. Regarding "support" surely even the "purists" would allow that racers can assist other racers during an event like the Arrowhead or the Iditabike? I used up five CO2 cartridges and two tubes, I also had a patch kit...after using up all my own tubes and C02 cartridges I found myself stuck...No worries, I built a fire and waited...eventually the fourth place rider appeared and offered the use of his pump...did I violate this notion of "support?" Once back on the trail we laughed and told jokes. Was this conversation a form of support?...I know I went faster because of his presence. I have drooled over Mike's new snowbike, specially modified for extreme winter travel...Is this new specially designed bike a form of support? Does he have an unfair advantage now because of his new bike? One man's support is another mans......? Okay...that's it...back to work This is great stuff!!!!
    Charlie

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieFarrow
    Furthermore...Mike C. is correct, I think I may have missed his original point, a point that is worthy and important. Going headfirst into defense mode for the Arrowhead, I missed his salient point because I was unhappy about the Arrowhead being used in the context of a thread concerning "poor form" and the ill use of "support" in what is billed as an "unsupported" event. Regarding "support" surely even the "purists" would allow that racers can assist other racers during an event like the Arrowhead or the Iditabike? I used up five CO2 cartridges and two tubes, I also had a patch kit...after using up all my own tubes and C02 cartridges I found myself stuck...No worries, I built a fire and waited...eventually the fourth place rider appeared and offered the use of his pump...did I violate this notion of "support?" Once back on the trail we laughed and told jokes. Was this conversation a form of support?...I know I went faster because of his presence. I have drooled over Mike's new snowbike, specially modified for extreme winter travel...Is this new specially designed bike a form of support? Does he have an unfair advantage now because of his new bike? One man's support is another mans......? Okay...that's it...back to work This is great stuff!!!!
    Charlie
    Charlie-

    Pierre and Cheryl are good friends of mine, and I have no doubt nor reason to question that they did everything in their power to make this a great race for all. None of what I've written here was in any way intended to discredit them or the race organization. Just want the racers to think more about what they're getting into, and hopefully have a better race experience as a result.

    Cheers,

    MC

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    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    Wow. So you drove to the start, rode until injured, rode to a motel, DNFd, and stayed at the hotel until healed. Then you rode back to your car at the start? At no point a single person helped you?
    Well, I did get help (carrying the bags) from the girl who sold me seeds to grow food so I could eat while healing, but that's it...


    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    If this is correct, hats off to you and there is no hypocrisy and I am indeed ignorant. Was the intent to ride to the end, turn around, and ride back to the start where your car was parked? The logistics of this race were so difficult for one person to do that I assumed (incorrectly, it seems) that everyone was at least supported in getting to and from the race.
    Are you this obnoxious in person?

    If you want to continue your rationalizations, do it elsewhere--you're not making a productive contribution to this thread.


    Quote Originally Posted by Morlahach
    When a storied self-supported racer gets on a forum and starts a thread saying that too much was done for foolish, underprepared riders
    I think you have to have the blinders adjusted pretty durn narrow to come away from this thread with that (and *only* that) message. To each their own.

    MC

  51. #51
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail717
    Once a racer does decide to quit the race, for whatever reason, at whatever location, it make any difference how this then ex-racer decides to exit the course? As long as this ex-racer has choices on how/when they exit why does it matter how they choose to do so? Why is it ok to stick out your thumb if you are at a store but not on the road leading to the store?
    That's a fair point to bring up. I can agree that in principle there is nothing wrong with thumbing to the next town if you are dropping from the race--assuming that you have enough food/water/strength to do it on your own.

    I propose that once the race is quit the only remaining responsibility to that particular event is to ensure the event organizer knows you got off the course ok. I think How said ex-racer gets to where ever they get to next is immaterial to everyone but them.
    I don't agree with this because it can conflict with what has been said throughout this thread. If you take what you propose at face value then I can skip filtering water because I know the route is traveled by 4x4 vehicles to bail me out. I may just make it. If I don't make it then by your rule I just say "I'm out of the race" and then I can rely on others to bail me out.

    Obviously there is a difference of intent. But the only way to be SURE that you could have made it is to actually make it.

    Cliff Walker dropped out of the AZT 300 with major fatigue and stomach cramps. He called my house to let me (through my GF) know he was out. He declined all offers of a ride back to his car (which was at my house) and proved to himself that he could get out of the situation himself. My hope is that people in these events would be this kind of person.

    Anyone else have thoughts on this?

    (Note: No one would be out of water at cisco, think about it)
    True enough, but irrelevant, I think.
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    Edited for foolishly propagating a flame.
    Last edited by Morlahach; 02-15-2007 at 12:12 PM.

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    Never, go beyond what you would do solo, is perhaps the best rule of thumb in these cases. (As stated above).

    Even very experienced mountaineers will fall into this trap, (Mt Everest tradegies).

    I have backed off many epics, for many reasons. Some of my friends haven't and are no longer here. (One mountain 7 times.)

    I believe all of those friends would have liked a rescue but not at the expense of another.

  54. #54
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    Jeff,
    I agree with you fully, just pick a different mountain than Everest...
    (some are not very experienced mountineers)

    The mountaineer approach to simply bag it and walk away is well transposed to winter bike races.

  55. #55
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    Morlahach
    are you trying to pick a fight here?
    It seems that everyone else has understood the general message that mike was trying to convey, you seem to be the only one trying to turn this thread into an argument rather than a discussion.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by KavuRider
    Morlahach
    are you trying to pick a fight here?
    It seems that everyone else has understood the general message that mike was trying to convey, you seem to be the only one trying to turn this thread into an argument rather than a discussion.
    I may very well have a chip on my shoulder. Bringing something up a year later would seem to demonstrate I held a grudge, no?

    IMO Mike comes off as very "agree with me or you are an idiot". This bugs me, and I guess I went a little far trying to show him wrong.

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    Okay pick say Annapurna.

    I was however refering to some of the idiot moves the guides made.

  58. #58
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    This thread is good, I almost hesitate to add to it for fear of not being able to type excactly what I mean but I suppose it's too late for that.

    Self supported means rely only on yourself to stay safe. As I'm pretty sure a few people pointed out, all you have to do is pretend you're the only one on the course with no contact with the outside world and act accordingly. It's that simple. Would you huck off that 6 foot drop if no one was around to help you? No? Then maybe you should walk it. The same rule applys about hydration, nutrition and hypothermia but the decision is less in your face than staring off a small cliff in the middle of the trail.

    Will there be unexpected accidents like broken bones from crashing? Without a doubt that will sometimes happen even when you are riding with the "only person out here" mindset. In those cases that cell/sat phone, other racers, SAR or nice other people that happen to come across you are a life saver, sometimes literally. But you should still have a plan on how to get yourself out. Those situations should be extreme exceptions and last resorts.

    I've also been on the helping end of a hypothermic, injured or otherwise disabled rider in several cases and I won't hesitate to do it again even if that person has missed the signs and now needs help. They made a mistake and hopefully they will learn from it. That doesn't mean they need to die so that others can learn from it too. All of us are reading these Arrowhead blogs and hopefully adding this to our knowledge banks. From there you just have to enjoy getting laughed at by your coworkers for sleeping in the backyard on the coldest nights of the year and riding when it's below zero and snowing so that you can learn your limits close to home and not in a race.

    Well I better shut up now.
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  59. #59
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    To me, it just seems Mike is starting a conversation that has me re-assessing some of my upcoming efforts, and that is a good thing. He's pointed out the consequenses of lack of preparation, be it the gear chosen or the mental aptitude to know when to pull the plug.

    Several of us have been performing "death marches" testing our gear and fortitude for the upcoming Trans Iowa event. We've had a few successes that left me feeling probably a little too confident. Luckily we had one that was a miserable failure and a good solid wake up kick to the crotch. Luckily no lives were threatened and the only injuries were to our egos. From that failure, true learning has taken place; I have a better understanding of my limit vs hardheadedness, as well as better choice in gear.

    We have a third coming up Friday, it'll be cold, overnight, and lonely. But thanks to Mike's conversation, I think I'll be even more prepared for it than I initially thought. If not, the back up plan is to follow Mike's wheel at TIv3 because I know he'll have everything I'll need. That does count as preparation doesn't it?

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny5
    Luckily we had one that was a miserable failure and a good solid wake up kick to the crotch. Luckily no lives were threatened and the only injuries were to our egos. From that failure, true learning has taken place; I have a better understanding of my limit vs hardheadedness, as well as better choice in gear.
    Great point. Last year I trained and raced without almost any failures and I felt awesome. This winter I've had to learn how to pull the plug on more than one occasion. The decision is far less satisfying but much more important in hindsight. The trail will always be there tomorrow, make the right decisions and you can be too.

    See you at TIv3
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    [QUOTE=Johnny5]To me, it just seems Mike is starting a conversation that has me re-assessing some of my upcoming efforts, and that is a good thing. He's pointed out the consequenses of lack of preparation, be it the gear chosen or the mental aptitude to know when to pull the plug.

    Thats exactly the same way ive been thinking and the point of the 1st post.Please Mike dont bother posting on his thread any longer.Go lace a wheel or weigh some fuel,you have made yourself clear here to those of us graced with more then half a brain cell.

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    More on the Arrowhead

    Navy guy here... thanks to Charlie for the help getting this posted.

    This posting was delayed because I've had to wait for my MTBR account to be activated-- I've watched these forums for years but never felt compelled to say anything. Now it's time.

    Some might take my comments as personal. I don't mean them to be and hope we can all have a beer one day in peace and love of our sport. What's intended is to offer an attitude adjustment on something that we should be celebrating-- our mutual love of challenges on two wheels. Put away the attitudes. Please remember this. It doesn't help anyone and it hurts our sport.

    Here's several years of pent-up angst comin' at ya...

    This has been an interesting and frustrating thread. There's a lot of BS being tossed around by people out of school, regardless of experience level. I truly honestly and deeply respect each person's experience but I'm not willing to take your word about this event if you weren't there. That's speculation and it's rarely accurate.


    What would be more productive would be threads that address how to prepare for these kinds of events in meaningful ways. Take a look around and you'll see there's little to nothing solid out there that's available on some really key dimensions (pretty much all of them actually- and I know about the icebike forums, etc.). So anyone doing this for their first time had to do a lot on their own because you can't know what to ask if you've never been there. Why can't we stop acting as if this is some mystical pursuit only worthy of a few souls possessed of superhuman gifts? And why shouldn't someone be able to go buy a bike that makes it more likely they'll succeed? That logic means we'd still be riding huffys on bike paths instead of, well, take your pick of mountain bikes... having a bike was truly only a few percent of the preparation required for this event.


    OK, the race...

    Bottom line? If you weren't there, you missed the event of a lifetime. Period.

    I'm working on one of those infamous lawyer-geek stories that I suppose might piss a few more race-geeks off, but maybe this time it'll come from experience instead of marketing. We'll see what you think when the time comes.


    Here's a take from another guy who was there with Charlie. My story-- I dropped at mile 90 because experience told me that it was time to come back another time. You can read about why on the race blog if you care to. But don't judge people when you weren't there, or frankly even if you were--

    A funny thing about experience-- it takes it to have it. Mike C are you going to tell us that you were perfectly prepared for every event you've ever done? I wouldn't believe it for a second. How can anyone say that people who lack experience shouldn't go to a race? Let's hear the plan for how they get it then-- and I can tell you that every single person who toed the line believed they were ready or they wouldn't have been there. There were no illusions about how hard this would be. It was freaking cold up there. The snow conditions were ridiculously hard. Even the most experienced people on that course learned things, a lot of things, of that I have no doubt. Compare the finishing times between this and last year.

    But here's the deal-- Things happen in races. Equipment breaks, people make unusual choices under pressure that they themselves don't understand in retrospect, and conditions possess a force all their own to influence everything. This is my hobby, and I have over 20 years' racing experience, up to no-kidding international levels and events much longer than AH135, and my training for this event included three months of weekly rides in excess of ten hours at near-zero temps, and I still have six pages of post-event notes on what I did right wrong or otherwise. Here's a more powerful example-- Lance Armstrong got dehydrated and nearly lost a Tour (my God how could that have happened when he had an ARMY of help?). There's a simple factor out there called "stuff happens" and that's why we run the race instead of just hooking ourselves up to some machine that measures tangibles and declares a winner without ever setting foot outside a lab. Races are finished and won by unpredictables and intangibles.

    I like the ideas of doing these things on your own. I told Pierre and others that before and during the race. I still feel that way. But I also know we're doing something that isn't worth dying for. That would be dumb.

    I've had a very long discussion since the race with the organizers about the support aspects and dimensions and I can tell you that while I totally share the sentiments about needing to be prepared to be completely alone and unafraid, mistakes and bad luck are real, and so is the simple fact that there is no race in the world worth losing lives or body parts simply for the sake of someone's ego that says 'gee, that was tough for them, too bad, they should've been able to help themselves out there.' That's just stupid when we have the ability to help. It's the only reason people don't help more above the death zone in climbing-- because they can't. Who's going to call the family and say, 'hey, you know it's too bad and all but gosh, um, we just didn't think it was right to save them out there when they had something go wrong.' Don't be a self-righteous person who declares your manhood on those terms. If you don't need the support, you won't use it. And no one will think less of you for its presence.

    Let me offer this-- Don't judge the people who had problems-- you weren't in their shoes and know squat about the factors that led to their challenges. Every one of us had different challenges to overcome in identical conditions. I saw some people who in hindsight weren't fully prepared, but no one could predict for sure who those people were and it sorted itself out. Every person on the course had water and food problems and made curious decisions about how to handle them-- every single one. Period. Ask Pierre. Remember the first time you really bonked? You didn't know it until way later. There you go. It happens.


    The people who risked their lives to help? They all volunteered to do it before they knew anything was or would be wrong. They were happy to be there not put off or put out-- they were satisfied in doing things to help, and I know that because they're talking about next year. One of them was my brother who had no previous exposure to these events, but he has incredible experience outdoors in those conditions-- he wished he'd been ready to do even more. Because he enjoyed being a part of it all. Oh by the way-- this was the only year they had to actually use emergency assistance, and it worked. That's what matters in the end-- that we can sit here in our armchairs and talk about it-- but what would we have said if there was no help out there and someone died? I've finished races in bad shape too, broken bones included, but there's a real difference-- the environmental conditions weren't threatening my life-- does someone deserve death because they had some bad luck? Let's not forget that dimension-- and let me tell you the conditions-- snow and weather both-- this year drove the luck dimension in spades. There was no pattern to broken gear problems across the racers. It was just luck.

    I'm not at all advocating anyone being able to walk up and toe the line, relying on a safety net for their bad planning, but remember there's a selection process for these events and it's run by people who know what it takes. They learned some things too. Watch next year's process.


    And last time I checked, the race director decides on the rules and what's good form or not. If you don't like their choices, then run your own race. We won't miss you for a second. I'm not defined by your perceptions of what's valid. To be brutally honest, I don't even care what you think. I'm not doing these to impress anyone or prove anything. I'm out there because I like it. I hope that's your only motivation too, because I'd much rather be there with folks like that than those willing to win at someone else's expense. I'm in it for the adventure not the credit or the trophy. OK, so I want the desk ornament. But it's only a symbol of the work it took to get it.


    That guy with the toes? They'll all be OK. No one is losing anything-- he's back home and at work again, albeit with some recovery time ahead.


    My fingers still tingle from a couple of events that contributed to my decision to stop, but I'll be back because I learned an infinite amount about myself, others, being better-prepared, and overcoming challenges. That's exactly why I went. I still struggle with my decision to drop. But I know that it was right. And that's Mike's point, and I hear him loud and clear-- I didn't want to be a burden on the trail-- but at the same time, I don't look down on others who I lost time helping. They learned a lot too. Ease up and stop taking yourself so seriously. This is just a bike race not American Idol after all... there was no money at stake here.


    I shared an amazing experience with amazing people. And as I said in my blog, I didn't see myself losing time when people needed my help-- I saw myself gaining experience. That's why I was there. And that's why I'll go back. Winning wasn't the point to me-- learning more about myself and a hobby that I love was the point. And I did. Finishing would have been great, and it was a goal, but it wasn't the only goal. Everyone out there succeeded by trying in my book. Stop trying to discredit their willingness to put themselves to the test.

    -Don Gabrielson

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    finally

    Thank you for saying the most honest thing on this thread.I was really hoping a participant would truly speak up and not worry about bruising some "gurus" ego.

    Dallas "I'd also like to point out that John Stamstad is an ultrarunner now." Sigurdur

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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieFarrow

    A funny thing about experience-- it takes it to have it. Mike C are you going to tell us that you were perfectly prepared for every event you've ever done? I wouldn't believe it for a second. How can anyone say that people who lack experience shouldn't go to a race?
    Don, I find it difficult to understand how you can, in good faith, take this from the words given. This is a debate, to which you honestly (if it seems to me erroneously) contributed.

    Cheers.

  65. #65
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by ionsmuse
    Don, I find it difficult to understand how you can, in good faith, take this from the words given. This is a debate, to which you honestly (if it seems to me erroneously) contributed.

    Cheers.
    Dave, what you wrote is what I was thinking as I read much of Don's post. Then I realized that his post was delayed in making it here.

    This thread isn't about the Arrowhead. It's not about Mike Curiak. That's already been covered (for far too long). To Don's credit, these points may not have been emphasized before he wrote what he did. It feels like Don is responding only to Mike's initial post, to me.

    Don, thanks for the heartfelt, if late, response. I hope you understand we are only trying to discuss and learn. As Mike said already, we're not trying to point fingers and we have all made mistakes and learned from them. Try not to take things too personally.

    Quote Originally Posted by dallas
    Dallas "I'd also like to point out that John Stamstad is an ultrarunner now." Sigurdur
    And what is significant about that?
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  66. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krein

    And what is significant about that?
    Because running is cooler.




    (Note: I'm running a 50k trail race Saturday, and am really really uncool. My sense of humor also sucks.)

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    Generally agree with you butÖ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Krein

    I propose that once the race is quit the only remaining responsibility to that particular event is to ensure the event organizer knows you got off the course ok. I think How said ex-racer gets to where ever they get to next is immaterial to everyone but them.
    I don't agree with this because it can conflict with what has been said throughout this thread. If you take what you propose at face value then I can skip filtering water because I know the route is traveled by 4x4 vehicles to bail me out. I may just make it. If I don't make it then by your rule I just say "I'm out of the race" and then I can rely on others to bail me out.
    Did not mean to (and donít think I did) imply this anywhere in my full post or specifically by saying:
    I propose that once the race is quit the only remaining responsibility to that particular event is to ensure the event organizer knows you got off the course ok. I think How said ex-racer gets to where ever they get to next is immaterial to everyone but them.

    Obviously there is a difference of intent. But the only way to be SURE that you could have made it is to actually make it.

    Cliff Walker dropped out of the AZT 300 with major fatigue and stomach cramps. He called my house to let me (through my GF) know he was out. He declined all offers of a ride back to his car (which was at my house) and proved to himself that he could get out of the situation himself. My hope is that people in these events would be this kind of person.
    If your example of what Cliff did to exit the AZT 300 was important to him thatís great, for him, but why is it so important to you or anyone else how he got back to his car?. He let you know he was out, thatís the important part. Do you believe only those willing to perform to your particular standard are worthy to do the event or am I mis-reading something here?

    (Note: No one would be out of water at cisco, think about it)
    True enough, but irrelevant, I think.
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  68. #68
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail717
    Did not mean to (and donít think I did) imply this anywhere in my full post or specifically by saying:
    I propose that once the race is quit the only remaining responsibility to that particular event is to ensure the event organizer knows you got off the course ok. I think How said ex-racer gets to where ever they get to next is immaterial to everyone but them.
    Sorry to have pulled your quote out of context. Given what you wrote before, I know we are on the same page about not relying on others and I know that was not what you were suggesting here.

    Quote Originally Posted by trail717
    If your example of what Cliff did to exit the AZT 300 was important to him thatís great, for him, but why is it so important to you or anyone else how he got back to his car?. He let you know he was out, thatís the important part. Do you believe only those willing to perform to your particular standard are worthy to do the event or am I mis-reading something here?
    It wasn't an expression of any standard that I have, certainly not for entry into my event. It's just that I would think that the type of person who enters a self-sufficient event would be someone who does not like burdening others unless there is a good reason.

    I'm not trying to define some hard and fast rule that you can only thumb a ride while "in town." Truth be told, Cliff was essentially in town when he called. But he was ~15 miles from his car, and rather than burden others, he sucked it up and rode it out. If he had been 200 miles from his car and 2 miles from the next town, yeah, he would have thumbed a ride.

    I really don't know exactly what to say on this one. Obviously the logisitics of many of these races are going to require leaning on someone for transporation if you DNF. As long as your situation is under control, I see no problem with this. What "under control" means is not exactly clear, though.

    I guess I have to be explicitly clear here (for some of our readers) that if the situation is not under control, you sure as heck better seek help. By discussing this we're just trying to prevent situations from getting out of control in the first place. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't seek help or help others just because they let their situation get out of hand. My point is that telling yourself that it's "not OK" to accept a ride dehydrated and out of water is a significant change of viewpoint, and one that might save people's lives if someone isn't there when they need them to be. Doesn't mean that they shouldn't actually take a ride if they do find themselves there.

    Thoughts?

    Not to me, but it was personal
    OK. I just meant that I chose a bad example. Fill in the blank with some other hot place that doesn't have water. Sounds like I may have unintentionally struck a chord...?
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  69. #69
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    its a pity that seems to be prevalent in mtbr at the moment that discussion so very often gets turned to animosity...

    bad!

    interesting discussion...

    not sure if anyone has raised the effects of certain conditions on decision making..hypothermia can easily creep up unannounced and affec decision making...not sure if this adds anything, and im not sure how you safely prepare for that! if only to *try* and make sure it doesnt happen...

    it seems that to carefully extend yourself is the only way forward..?

  70. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmsigurdur

    "I'd also like to point out that John Stamstad is an ultrarunner now."
    Dang, that was what I was thinking about doing when I couldn't figure out what to do next. Now I'm going to have to skip that and go right to trans-oceanic rowing.

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  71. #71
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    Thoughts on DNF-ing and more

    (all quotes from Krein's post)

    I really don't know exactly what to say on this one. Obviously the logisitics of many of these races are going to require leaning on someone for transporation if you DNF. As long as your situation is under control, I see no problem with this. What "under control" means is not exactly clear, though.
    What Jeff and I insist on at Trans Iowa is that you have someone available to pick you up if and when you decide to DNF. Obviously in Iowa, that's a whole different story than say, the AZT or other remote event, but it lays the responsibility on someone who previous to the event decides to take responsibility for someone in the event. To that end, it seems that the volunteers for the Arrowhead 135 were taking on a similar responsibility, knowing full well that they might be getting in harms way if they needed to extricate an event participant.

    I think it all depends upon what level of self sufficiency is required at any particular event. Obviously at the Arrowhead you had the volunteers there to aid in getting folks off the course if the need arose. If this was fore knowledge for the event participants, then this colors the whole "exit strategy" for the event participant a bit differently than, say if they knew going in there were no event volunteers to sweep the course, no?

    Perhaps as a promoter it would be a wise thing to detail out possible exit points, strategies for bailing out, etc. ? Especially for the more remote events.

    I guess I have to be explicitly clear here (for some of our readers) that if the situation is not under control, you sure as heck better seek help. By discussing this we're just trying to prevent situations from getting out of control in the first place. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't seek help or help others just because they let their situation get out of hand. My point is that telling yourself that it's "not OK" to accept a ride dehydrated and out of water is a significant change of viewpoint, and one that might save people's lives if someone isn't there when they need them to be. Doesn't mean that they shouldn't actually take a ride if they do find themselves there.
    Very well put! I agree. This seems to me to be the question, though. At what point does an event participant determine that things have gone to a point that is "not under control" and when is the rule of their own self government overidden due to the severity of their situation.

    I am afraid that is the point that will be unanswered sufficiently due to the myriad different situations that might arise in any given event. To that end, it seems easy to say, "don't let it get that far in the first place", but things can and do happen so very quickly that this can not always work. At best it's a guideline that will certainly be a wise thing to attain to for anyone looking for these types of challenges

    And really, isn't it that "chance" that something might happen, that "unknown factor" that drives alot of us out there in the first place? It's a balancing act and there isn't going to be any easy solutions

    This is a good discussion. I think it should be required reading for anyone thinking of undertaking these self supported- ultra distance- wilderness type events. (Sorry, but didn't someone say "Curiak Rules Events at one point?) I wonder if this thread couldn't be edited for the "on topic" posts to be saved somewhere? Just a thought.
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  72. #72
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    Lots and lots of words here. My two cents: There is a distinct difference between a "self supported race" and the race directors stepping in to pull racers who are in trouble or are in danger of getting into trouble. And who better to know if they're in trouble than those who were out there (in the case of Arrowhead). To say that they should buck up and forge on, when clearly lives were in danger, is irresponsible. If nothing else, a race director owes it to the racers (and to themselves) to have that safety net, even if the race is "self supported".

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elle Elle
    Lots and lots of words here. My two cents: There is a distinct difference between a "self supported race" and the race directors stepping in to pull racers who are in trouble or are in danger of getting into trouble.
    Agreed, I think this thread is aiming more at the self supported style.


    And who better to know if they're in trouble than those who were out there (in the case of Arrowhead).
    Maybe, maybe not. Reading the reports it's clear that upon reflection some of the racers saw where they were in trouble where it seems that they weren't so aware of it in the thick of it. This thread seems to be saying, "try to be more careful in this regard". It might save alot of trouble in the future.

    To say that they should buck up and forge on, when clearly lives were in danger, is irresponsible.
    Statements of this sort keep popping up in this thread and I do not believe anyone is trying to say this. It's been said over and over again, try not to let it get to the point where lives are in danger. I think this is the key to the original point.

    If nothing else, a race director owes it to the racers (and to themselves) to have that safety net, even if the race is "self supported".
    Here's where I disagree with you. If the race is clearly stated from the onset as a "no support" style event, and that the event promoters are not providing services, then the onus is on the person that takes up the challenge to take care of themselves. Again, a point that seems to be continually missed here.
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  74. #74
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    Well we have 70+ posts now basically saying the same thing.

    With some people agreeing, and others disagreeing on the gray areas of self-support.

    Lets the make the logical next step for people promoting enduro races via blogs etc. Promoters have varying levels of organization, inviting people to their races, having open entry, having sponsors, prizes, holding entry lotteries, etc. At what point does this feel-good enduro trend become a liability for those organizing races. At some point according to murphy's law, someone will show up and get hurt. What happens next?

    How much organizing does a promoter need to do to become liable for people's safety. I do not know. It may be something Promoters may want to think about when holding an underground (ie no permits, medics, accountability, insurance etc.) "race". I am not trying to be a downer but sometimes you have to cover your ass proactively rather and reactively.

  75. #75
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    I dislike getting into these discussions about these underground-type events. I've been a part of a few, but my main racing experiance has been adventure racing for the past 8-9 years. I see a conflict of interests between organizers of these grass-roots type races, and the racers safety. In many instances I see it as "I want to host a race, but I don't want to be responsible for anything that goes wrong in my race" type thinking. It's not proactive for the racers safety when you know something will go wrong. It's a cop-out.


    Bottom Line: If you decide to do one of these unsupported, grass-roots type races, prepare for the worst. Basically there is no one really "running things". The race officials usually make sure no one cheats, there is a cut-off time, that there is a specified course and start / finish line. No support means whatever money you paid doesn't buy you anything, but a pre-determined path to follow and some bragging rites. If you expect anything more out of these grass-roots type events or their organizers, you will be sorry. Your money is in their pockets now.

    So if you are comfortable with that, by all means go for it. Don't ***** and moan when things go bad. Just find a more suitable race...

  76. #76
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    Whatever...

    "prepare for the worst....money is in their pockets now."

    Hence my reasoning behind not liking the fact that the Arrowhead is being used as a platform on this thread.
    C

  77. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieFarrow
    "prepare for the worst....money is in their pockets now."

    Hence my reasoning behind not liking the fact that the Arrowhead is being used as a platform on this thread.
    C

    Sincere congrats for your accomplishments Charlie.

    But I'm not sure you've been paying attention. For the last day and a half this thread has morphed into DNF protocol rather than the origional intent; Preperation.

  78. #78
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    no harm no foul

    Quote Originally Posted by Krein
    Dave, what you wrote is what I was thinking as I read much of Don's post. Then I realized that his post was delayed in making it here.

    This thread isn't about the Arrowhead. It's not about Mike Curiak. That's already been covered (for far too long). To Don's credit, these points may not have been emphasized before he wrote what he did. It feels like Don is responding only to Mike's initial post, to me.

    Don, thanks for the heartfelt, if late, response. I hope you understand we are only trying to discuss and learn. As Mike said already, we're not trying to point fingers and we have all made mistakes and learned from them. Try not to take things too personally.



    And what is significant about that?
    What would John do?
    I just brought it up because I saw someone on the GDR race thread (John's idea from what I heard him say in an interview on wikipedia) had it posted on his handle bar. It then made me think of a jest runners make about biking saying "soon you'll loose your training wheels".
    Now I don't want people freaking out because I don't mean anything harmful by it I just thought it was funny that's all.I still love my bike and the opportunities it gives me.

    Dallas "I'm getting ready for a 150 mile SUPPORTED trail run and am cool with that." Sigurdur

  79. #79
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    Keywords: integrity, morality, respect, responsibility, compassion and honesty

    As one of the organizers and competitors in the upcoming Colorado Trail Race, this thread has really got me thinking. A lot.

    Self-supported racing has a way of bringing the integrity and honesty of one's character to the forefront. This style of racing really forces you to be honest with yourself. I'm going to use two examples of the character of people that I want racing, and that I want to race against, in these type of events. (disclaimer: I do not know Steve or Cliff personally)

    Cliff Walker - Chose to pull the plug on the AZT300 and got himself out without leaning on other racers for support, even though he was suffering from major fatigue and stomach cramps. I want to race against Cliff, because he is prepared and knows when to make the decision to call it quits before getting in too deep. I know that if I have to rescue him, it will be because he is in serious dire straits.

    Steve Fassbinder - In last year's KTR, when coming upon Travis Macy (who had just wrecked and broken his collar bone), Steve assessed Travis' situation and immediately abandoned any personal goals he had of the KTR in order to get Travis out of there. I want to race against Steve, because I know that if I get into serious dire straits, he will sacrifice his goals, possibly endangering himself, to get me out of there.

    These two seemingly simple examples illustrate integrity, morality, respect, responsibility and compassion from both viewpoints - the rescuer and potential rescuee. This is the same character that I (and I'm sure everyone here) strives to achieve -- and it's not easy. Especially in a racing/competitive environment where bailing someone out may not only endanger your safety, but also requires you to sacrifice your own goals. If your personal sacrifice allows you to save someone's life/legs/toes/etc, and you are repaid with their wholehearted thanks and respect, it can mean much, much more than your original goal.

    However, if your sacrifice is due to someone else's unpreparedness or negligence, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth. This can be compounded if you feel you are being taken advantage of and/or given no thanks and respect in return for your personal sacrifice. It works the other way around too -- if by being rescued, you are forcing someone else to abandon their personal goals, and perhaps risk their life as well, you better repay them with some sincere thanks and respect!

    In our ever-increasing society of entitlement, self-supported racing offers us the chance to not only see what we're mentally & physically capable of, but also to learn about the integrity and honesty of our own character, and to earn the mutual respect of others striving for these same personal goals. For this style of racing to prosper, it is unquestionably mandatory that everyone is on the exact same page regarding safety and expectations. In essence, this is not a hobby or a pastime -- it is a way of life.

    Stefan Griebel
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  80. #80
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmsigurdur
    What would John do?

    Dallas "I'm getting ready for a 150 mile SUPPORTED trail run and am cool with that." Sigurdur
    Right on, Dallas. Wasn't trying to be confrontational, just wondering what your point was.

    Runners are infinitely tougher than cyclists, we all know that. My GF is a semi-elite marathon runner, and she lets me know how much harder running is than cycling all the time.
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  81. #81
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    Stephan, I agree.

    And I am sure most of us do. But what if the person how gets lost, hurt, or worse does not? My main question is: Is the promoter help responsible for racers a "underground race." Will the defense of "well, I said so in my blog." work in a court of law? Just something to think about.

    I am thinking about putting on an enduro the day after the Laramie enduro in Fort Fun all of DBB through blue sky, horsetooth, michuax, foothills trail pineridge to CR. But I probably will not becasue I do not want to be liability for all of the people to whom I gave a map.

  82. #82
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_G
    In our ever-increasing society of entitlement, self-supported racing offers us the chance to not only see what we're mentally & physically capable of, but also to learn about the integrity and honesty of our own character, and to earn the mutual respect of others striving for these same personal goals. For this style of racing to prosper, it is unquestionably mandatory that everyone is on the exact same page regarding safety and expectations. In essence, this is not a hobby or a pastime -- it is a way of life.
    Hear, hear! You make some great points about integrity, which is a large part of these events -- the truly self supported ones. Thanks for the thoughts Stefan. It's good to know you're at the helm of the CTR.
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  83. #83
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by twelve_volt_man
    And I am sure most of us do. But what if the person how gets lost, hurt, or worse does not? My main question is: Is the promoter help responsible for racers a "underground race." Will the defense of "well, I said so in my blog." work in a court of law? Just something to think about.
    Right. What was said about Murphy's law is true. It's only a matter of time before someone runs into trouble in one of these "non-official" events and raises hell for the "promoter."

    It would be nice to think it's not going to happen--that the distance, rules and severity of these events will prevent those kind of people from entering. But it's a possibility each promoter needs to think about. We need to realize there is a risk and accept that risk.

    I'm not a lawyer, and have no idea what constitutes an 'event' for liability purposes. The absence of entry fees, prizes, sponsorship or support of any kind certainly helps your case, but I would not bank my life savings on it.
    Last edited by Krein; 02-16-2007 at 03:36 PM.
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  84. #84
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    Yep, whatever...

    Quote Originally Posted by DocAltie
    I dislike getting into these discussions about these underground-type events.
    Then why did you post and add only negativity?
    Quote Originally Posted by DocAltie
    Bottom Line: If you decide to do one of these unsupported, grass-roots type races, prepare for the worst. Basically there is no one really "running things". The race officials usually make sure no one cheats, there is a cut-off time, that there is a specified course and start / finish line. No support means whatever money you paid doesn't buy you anything, but a pre-determined path to follow and some bragging rites. If you expect anything more out of these grass-roots type events or their organizers, you will be sorry. Your money is in their pockets now.
    [sarcastic on]
    Yes! Please don't expect anything more out of these type of events! Satisfaction, sense of accomplishment, growth, learning, personal triumph, mutual respect from other racers, camradarie... All of this is meaningless, especially when the entry fee is modest or nonexistent. A race is really only worth doing if it costs an exorbitant amount of money, there are race organizers around every corner to rescue you if you fall, and the top 3 finishers get loads of money from the 100's of others that paid huge race fees to the generous and altruistic race directors and insurance companies.
    [sarcastic off]

    But seriously Doc, I can't believe that you (or anyone) really feels this way.
    The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not. -TJ

  85. #85
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    Perhaps as a promoter it would be a wise thing to detail out possible exit points, strategies for bailing out, etc. ? Especially for the more remote events.
    Depends on what kind of event you are running, but generally I think racers are responsible for their own map work. You need to know a lot about the course itself, and you need to know even more about the bailouts. That's the racer's responsibility.

    Of course if someone asks me about bail out strategies I'll be happy to help out. But I don't want someone to just take a list of bailout locations and then consider that aspect of their preparation complete.

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    I am afraid that is the point that will be unanswered sufficiently due to the myriad different situations that might arise in any given event.
    Agreed, there's no way to answer it definitively. That's ok...

    Quote Originally Posted by Guitar Ted
    This is a good discussion. I think it should be required reading for anyone thinking of undertaking these self supported- ultra distance- wilderness type events. (Sorry, but didn't someone say "Curiak Rules Events at one point?) I wonder if this thread couldn't be edited for the "on topic" posts to be saved somewhere? Just a thought.
    Yep, I'm going to recommend anyone who participates in the AZT 300 read this thread. Food for thought...
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  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by edemtbs



    Mike it looks like Jim made another wise decision at Arrowhead this year:



    Ed E
    Thanks Ed,

    My $.02. I showed up with gear that was tested at the coldest of -17, which is the coldest I could find up in summit co. prior to the race. It also did not stay -17 for the entire ride, only the first hour. I quickly realized that I was out of my comfort zone, and don't get me wrong, some of my best rides have been out of my comfort zone. I've even paid the price on more than one occasion. I had a pretty cold night on the trail once when I severly underpacked and thought that my bivy sack along with a pair of tights would be sufficient.

    In this case, I could have easily of continued on down the trail and relied on the snowmobile support to bail me out if I got in trouble, but I opted to bail at a highway where I could easily catch a ride. The arrowhead was billed as a non support event, but in fact it was the most supported, unsupported event that I have ever attended. I think the support definately bailed some folks out and I'm sure they are greatful for that. Some folks ran into some pretty bad dehydration when there was plenty of water around (all in snow). They had stoves, just opted to not use them. If they were truly on their own, I'm sure each and everyone of them would have stopped at a shelter (there was one about every ten miles) and melted some snow. About halfway there was a cabin with food and water for all participants. Many participants stopped and stayed the night in a cabin, staying in a cabin at those temperatures was not a bad idea, but most carried the mandatory gear that would have allowed them to stay outside. They may not have been comfortable in a -20 bag, but when combined with a bivy and some of the extra clothes they had they would have survived. If I return to this event, I'm going to do it on my own without support. That means not stopping at the store 40 miles into the event and not accepting the grilled cheese and soup at the half way point. Nothing against those who do, I just feel I need to only rely on myself. That is a personal decision.

    Don't get me wrong, this is a great event, it is just not an unsupported event. I definately did not have the anxiety attack that I had about starting the Grand Loop Race. I knew there would be someone out there looking for me if I got lost or could not go further. It was scary cold out there and the potential for actually dying was pretty real. I still have some weird skin above my lip from having to leave it exposed because otherwise my balaclavas were freezing to me and prohibiting me from eating and drinking.


    Mike brings up some good points, when I embark on some of these events, I tend to take the conservative approach. I would rather bail and head back with my tail between my legs than end up needing to be rescued. Sure I have more stories on how I wish I had did this or that than I would like to admit. I often admit to showing up to events not quite in top form. I'm one of those working joes who trains when they can between the demands of a 50 hour a week job and a family.

    Mike has a dedication to the unsupported way of racing that I greatly admire and I find myself agreeing with him more often than not. I have participated in three of Mike's events with three DNFs. Did I ever reley on outside support-- well that is a tough one, on one occasion, after pulling out of the event I rode until I got cell phone service and called in a friend who was vacationing in the area to pick me up. I say I did not take any outside support since I stopped racing and rode off course to get reception. On the other two occasions I rode back to a vehicle and drove myself home.

    Bottome line is that I will continue to participate in these type of events, but I will participate with great caution. I will bail again to live to ride another day. I will feel guilty about bailing, but I will know I made the right decision. But when I do complete an event on my own, it will be the sweetest accomplishment of my racing career. Sweeter than the 20 plus solo 24 hour events I have completed.

    For those of you thinking about these type of events-- they are way different than a solo 12 or 24 hour event. There is way more mental prep required, which is exactly why I participate in them. Anyone could probably ride a 10 mile loop for 24 hours when they get to stop each lap and get waited on by support.

    Mike-- Thanks for creating this genre-- I know you were not the first, but you have been by far the biggest supporter of these type of events. And thanks for supporting my habit with both gear and and guidance.

    Jim
    Fatter than most.

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by alizbee
    I don't think the merit of the race or it's organizers has ever been in question here.
    The organization at this event was awsome. Better than races that cost 3 times the amount. I agree with alizbee that it was never in question. I think this event is great, had it been a few or ten degrees warmer, I'm sure that many more would have finished this event. Even very experienced racers ran into trouble in this event. I'm the type that needs to do a few to figure them out before success. Charlie-- no one is feeling this event should not be held, just maybe it should not be billed at non supported. BTW, congratulations on your finish-- I particularly enjoyed your write up even though I was on a clown bike. Heck, I'm just glad I saved Moots #1 from sitting in a storage facility for the rest of it's life. I probably should have gotten over the romance with the bike and just ridden my 29er.

    Jim
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  88. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_G
    As one of the organizers and competitors in the upcoming Colorado Trail Race, this thread has really got me thinking. A lot.
    Stefan,

    Hopefully this thread will have get some people thinking before your race. See you in July, this one is definately on my schedule. Even giving up another shot at the GLR for this one.

    jim
    Fatter than most.

  89. #89
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    This was meant to be a discussion, but some.....

    Quote Originally Posted by DocAltie
    Bottom Line: If you decide to do one of these unsupported, grass-roots type races, prepare for the worst.
    Exactly MCs point from the beginning.

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  90. #90
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    Consensus?

    Quote Originally Posted by Krein
    Sorry to have pulled your quote out of context. Given what you wrote before, I know we are on the same page about not relying on others and I know that was not what you were suggesting here.



    It wasn't an expression of any standard that I have, certainly not for entry into my event. It's just that I would think that the type of person who enters a self-sufficient event would be someone who does not like burdening others unless there is a good reason.

    I'm not trying to define some hard and fast rule that you can only thumb a ride while "in town." Truth be told, Cliff was essentially in town when he called. But he was ~15 miles from his car, and rather than burden others, he sucked it up and rode it out. If he had been 200 miles from his car and 2 miles from the next town, yeah, he would have thumbed a ride.

    I really don't know exactly what to say on this one. Obviously the logisitics of many of these races are going to require leaning on someone for transporation if you DNF. As long as your situation is under control, I see no problem with this. What "under control" means is not exactly clear, though.

    I guess I have to be explicitly clear here (for some of our readers) that if the situation is not under control, you sure as heck better seek help. By discussing this we're just trying to prevent situations from getting out of control in the first place. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't seek help or help others just because they let their situation get out of hand. My point is that telling yourself that it's "not OK" to accept a ride dehydrated and out of water is a significant change of viewpoint, and one that might save people's lives if someone isn't there when they need them to be. Doesn't mean that they shouldn't actually take a ride if they do find themselves there.

    Thoughts?
    Have been out of forum land for a couple of days, sorry to any who think I have been off topic. I did re-read mikesee’s first post and think discussing when and how you pull the plug is germane.


    And actually I did think about this particular point we have been discussing most of the day as I was just driving down the highway to Big Bend TX for a little 100k and during some of said 100k. (fully supported event, very fun, but just not the same)

    Here is what I came up with:

    To be in ethical/honorable compliance with the “rules” of the type of self-supported events I am talking about:
    Your original plan/intent must be to start and finish fully mobile and accept no outside aid (except where aid is clearly allowed, ie: allowed re-supply point in a multi-day etc etc).

    Also you do not plan ahead of time to gain an unfair advantage by relying on any background safety-net or other participants help (ie: save a little weight by leaving out the water filter because you know you could bum some water if you absolutely have to etc etc)

    I still sort of think if you do choose, for any reason, to exit the event and have retained enough mobility to do so safely, with out any outside help then by default you have fulfilled the minimum for “rule compliance” to the event. Now what the individual does from this point forward is no longer governed by the event rules but I would say by what makes the most sense to the “still clear thinking” but exiting individual.


    OK. I just meant that I chose a bad example. Fill in the blank with some other hot place that doesn't have water. Sounds like I may have unintentionally struck a chord...?
    Ah yes that unintended power cord

    Maybe I just want to believe I was “in compliance” in 06 with mikesee’s KTR rules when I exited the race at Cisco Landing. I now see I was not 100%

    Cisco Landing Example
    I exited the KTR, my 1st try at this type of event, at CL because I (mistakenly) thought I had reached my limit and felt it wise to pull the plug. I still had the necessary supplies to continue, and after about 30 min of sit time by the cool river I realized I could have continued, or even rode back to Hwy 128/ Moab (side note: my mistake was a good personal learning experience about rest, real limits and not pulling the plug without first doing some deep reflection) But alas I had accepted an offered ice cold drink within the first min of “quitting” so 40 min later there was little motivation to continue as I had disqualified myself. If I rode forward or back to Moab it would have proven I retained my independent mobility but would have inconvenienced my Wife. She was driving down from a wedding in Salt Lake City to collect me in Loma, going forward may have risked real loss of full mobility and/or worried my wife sick with the unplanned for longer wait and going back to Moab would have forced her to backtrack (not very smart to my way of thinking as she was somewhat reluctant about the whole unsupported thing).
    What I did do was to accept an offer to get a message to my wife’s cell phone to meet me at Cisco Landing. In retrospect with more experience I would have handled this particular situation differently, this is how you learn. But at no time had I lost my full mobility or put myself in a situation where I had no choice but to lean on others.
    But on the other hand I did lean on others, somewhat for personal convenience, I was tired, poor baby, but also a key part of my ‘how to best exit thinking” was to reassure my wife and save her worry and time in the most expedient manner available. So maybe I'm just rationalizing and making excuses.

    While not a "life & death" discussion this thread has made me think deeper about my plans for several up-coming events, maybe even my 1st multi-day. And in his “tells it like he sees it” style I think that’s part of what mikesee’s original post was meant to do.

    PS: We did stop by Loma and tell Mike I was off the route
    Last edited by trail717; 02-17-2007 at 09:00 PM.
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  91. #91
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by trail717

    Ah yes that unintended power cord
    Power cord, or (rockin') power chord?

    Didn't mean to single anyone out...

    Quote Originally Posted by trail717
    Maybe I just want to believe I was ďin complianceĒ in 06 with mikeseeís KTR rules when I exited the race at Cisco Landing. I now see I was not 100%
    It's important to learn and think about past situations, but don't beat yourself up about it. It is a process for everyone. I stayed at a friend's house when I did the 7 day AZT TT, and I'd never do that again in a "racing" atmosphere. Even Mike had a wheel speed-delivered by his GF during his first (failed) GDR attempt.

    Sounds like you're on the right course (like the rest of us, hopefully), and that's what is important.
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

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    Navy guy here again, finally got my own account activated-- to all, I have appreciated the discussion here, I truly admire each of your accomplishments, and hope that we all benefit from the thoughts of the collective experience--

    Stefan G, your last comments echo my views and I completely agree about the need to be flexible out there-- judgment is what matters and sometimes you don't know how bad off you can be until someone else rings your bell or lends a hand-- but the ultimate goal should always be to avoid that situation and I applaud the folks who get there-- the hard knocks of experience will create better judgment for anyone, which sometimes includes the judgment not to do a style of event that's beyond their willingness or capability to overcome.

    With some luck, these threads will help new solo ultra racers ask themselves some important questions about their preparation and capability-- to me, the real question is how to get more information to people on what it takes, and how to get some events where the skillsets can grow into what's needed for success as opposed to what's in many cases a quantum leap into these events.

    Thanks to all for some important, hard discussions. I learned from them, and hope to meet many of you on the trails some day.

    Don Gabrielson

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    Stefan, I would differ in one way from your last comments though-- there is a style difference between my pursuit of adventures when I'm going solo, as part of a team, or when I'm just living my daily life-- being a lone ranger does not make for a successful life--

    I do these events to challenge and expand my personal limits, not to earn someone else's (put a word here)-- I'm here because of my sense of self, not to define it, and I know many others with that view. I do see and feel the connection in terms of lifestyle, but ultra racing is not what defines my life-- it's the other way around I think-- so maybe you're right about lifestyle in that sense? Maybe I agree with you more than I realized at first.

    If, ultimately, I earn someone else's (put a word here), that's nice and it feels good, but that only comes as a consequence of their judgment of my skills, preparation, and choices on their terms-- not on mine. It feels good, but it doesn't change my life. That's a subtle but key point in my view-- it defines what each of us seek in why we pursue these challenges. It's an important, hard question to ask ourselves I think-- why are we doing this?

    Ultimately, we have to remember that each of our perspectives matter, that none of us have a corner on the market of truth, and the ethos in these events are very important, and definitely to be respected, but not as a definition of someone's worthiness-- because ultimately, the real winners will always follow the rules of the event as well as their own. The rest takes care of itself when the time comes.


    OK my quota of words on MTBR has probably been used up for several more years. Thanks again for everyone's thoughts on this deep and interesting subject.

    See you out there. I'll be the one with extra tools when you need them... ;-)

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_G
    Then why did you post and add only negativity?

    *** Because, as I stated, the people that "manage" these types of events want to have it both ways as much as some novice racers expecting help just around the corner. I can sit on my keyboard here and point virtual fingers at any of the people the run these events. It doesn't help because most just don't care. They want others to reinforce their thoughts, not give them new ideas.

    And the bottom line is still: Don't f-ing do the race if you don't like it.


    [sarcastic on]
    Yes! Please don't expect anything more out of these type of events! Satisfaction, sense of accomplishment, growth, learning, personal triumph, mutual respect from other racers, camradarie... All of this is meaningless, especially when the entry fee is modest or nonexistent. A race is really only worth doing if it costs an exorbitant amount of money, there are race organizers around every corner to rescue you if you fall, and the top 3 finishers get loads of money from the 100's of others that paid huge race fees to the generous and altruistic race directors and insurance companies.
    [sarcastic off]

    But seriously Doc, I can't believe that you (or anyone) really feels this way.
    *** Well you read wayyy too much into my one post. But you are going to take it however you want to. I love my team. Most of the events we go to are ran very well. I personally don't get involved with "grass-roots" races unless I have people racing with me I know, so we can bail each other out... keep an eye on each other.

  95. #95
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    Word!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan_G
    As one of the organizers and competitors in the upcoming Colorado Trail Race, this thread has really got me thinking. A lot.

    Self-supported racing has a way of bringing the integrity and honesty of one's character to the forefront. This style of racing really forces you to be honest with yourself. I'm going to use two examples of the character of people that I want racing, and that I want to race against, in these type of events. (disclaimer: I do not know Steve or Cliff personally)

    Cliff Walker - Chose to pull the plug on the AZT300 and got himself out without leaning on other racers for support, even though he was suffering from major fatigue and stomach cramps. I want to race against Cliff, because he is prepared and knows when to make the decision to call it quits before getting in too deep. I know that if I have to rescue him, it will be because he is in serious dire straits.

    Steve Fassbinder - In last year's KTR, when coming upon Travis Macy (who had just wrecked and broken his collar bone), Steve assessed Travis' situation and immediately abandoned any personal goals he had of the KTR in order to get Travis out of there. I want to race against Steve, because I know that if I get into serious dire straits, he will sacrifice his goals, possibly endangering himself, to get me out of there.

    These two seemingly simple examples illustrate integrity, morality, respect, responsibility and compassion from both viewpoints - the rescuer and potential rescuee. This is the same character that I (and I'm sure everyone here) strives to achieve -- and it's not easy. Especially in a racing/competitive environment where bailing someone out may not only endanger your safety, but also requires you to sacrifice your own goals. If your personal sacrifice allows you to save someone's life/legs/toes/etc, and you are repaid with their wholehearted thanks and respect, it can mean much, much more than your original goal.

    However, if your sacrifice is due to someone else's unpreparedness or negligence, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth. This can be compounded if you feel you are being taken advantage of and/or given no thanks and respect in return for your personal sacrifice. It works the other way around too -- if by being rescued, you are forcing someone else to abandon their personal goals, and perhaps risk their life as well, you better repay them with some sincere thanks and respect!

    In our ever-increasing society of entitlement, self-supported racing offers us the chance to not only see what we're mentally & physically capable of, but also to learn about the integrity and honesty of our own character, and to earn the mutual respect of others striving for these same personal goals. For this style of racing to prosper, it is unquestionably mandatory that everyone is on the exact same page regarding safety and expectations. In essence, this is not a hobby or a pastime -- it is a way of life.

    Stefan Griebel
    SO well put!
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  96. #96
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    Hi, guys--

    There has been some great discussion here abou the meaning of self-support in endurance events. Thanks in part to Mikesee and his passionate debate, we at the ArrowheadUltra have been doing a lot of thinking about that topic as well.
    We wish Mikesee success and a great (truly self-supported) ride to Nome.

    We find it is a fine balancing act between providing the risk/excitement demanded by the participants and spectators and the safety concerns of the event organizers, local community and family members... (probably somewhat akin to what a ringmaster must feel for its circus performers).

    We originally intended to make the Arrowhead follow the spirt of the original Alaska Iditasport, but we are finding that difficult in the state of Minnesota. People do not seem to be quite ready for a true self-supported event, yet.

    I hope this is not spamming, but since you have been discussing our event in this forum, some people suggested we start our own little forum. So we are announcing the launch of a message board specific to the ArrowheadUltra.com at the following link. Since our event involves more than biking, such as running and skiing, we thought it would be more appropriate for our participants and fans to have their own forum for such discussions.

    http://www.websitetoolbox.com/tool/mb/arrowheadultra

    We have the new forum on trial for a few days, so we would appreciate your testing it and giving us some feedback. We hope you will visit it from time to time as we will continue to do in the MTBR forum.



    best regards,

    Arrowhead Ultra

  97. #97
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    As someone who dreams of entering races like the these in the future, I have found this thread most informative and want to thank all of you for giving me much to think about.

    However, after reading Trail717's post about his KTR DNF, I'm left puzzled by what it was that people thought he should have done differently.

    What I did do was to accept an offer to get a message to my wife’s cell phone to meet me at Cisco Landing. In retrospect with more experience I would have handled this particular situation differently, this is how you learn. But at no time had I lost my full mobility or put myself in a situation where I had no choice but to lean on others.
    But on the other hand I did lean on others, somewhat for personal convenience, I was tired, poor baby, but also a key part of my ‘how to best exit thinking” was to reassure my wife and save her worry and time in the most expedient manner available. So maybe I'm just rationalizing and making excuses.
    Yes, in his own words, it sounds like he perhaps pulled the plug too quickly and maybe reached for help too suddenly, but -- and I want to make it clear that I'm essentially asking for a rules clarification here as a newbie -- once you make the decision to pull the plug, exit the race, and take the DNF, what is it that you are exactly supposed to do? Was he supposed to pedal all the way back to Moab on the highway?

    It almost sound as if those who finish the race are allowed a drive home with their friend/spouse who was waiting at the finish, but those who DNF have to pedal nearly 2x the distance and drag themselves back to the start line under their own power. Is it really frowned upon to alert the person who is waiting at the finish for you that you're not going to be arriving? I know that if my wife was waiting in Loma and I DNF'd at Cisco Landing and doubted my ability to pedal the highway shoulder the rest of the way, I would also look for a cellphone to let her know what's up. It's a courtesy between husband and wife.

    Or is having someone at the finish waiting to drive us home also not part of the spirit of the event? I understand and appreciate that the idea of these events is to strip away the safety nets of society. And like many of you, that is what attracts me to this concept. But I'm having a hard time figuring out from this thread where the rules of the event end. I know nobody wants a bunch of unprepared folks coming out and simply playing by the rules up until the going gets tough then whipping out the cellphone and calling for mom to pick them up. But once the decision to DNF is reached, when is it allowed (if ever) to go about simply getting home and not inconveniencing the wonderful people who agree to chaufer us around and wait?

    Using Trail717 as an example, what exactly should he have done differently. Was buying a drink at the Cisco store acceptable? What about pedaling to the store and using the payphone to message his wife? Was his only acceptable option to pedal the highway and/or trail to Loma and report his DNF in person? What if his body was simply "done" and he, for one reason or another, could not go on? Was the only option to sleep and rest and then keep moving?

    I'm not asking to add any sort of fuel to what has been occasionally a fiery debate.

    I'm asking because I appreciate other people's rules and want to know EXACTLY what would be expected of me if I was to ever enter one such event.

  98. #98
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    In response to EnduroDoug:

    Good question and yes, it's not entirely clear from event to event what constitutes a "clean" DNF, for lack of a better working term for this.

    I will say that from the standpoint of the event I help promote and put on, (Trans Iowa), we strongly suggest that all participants have a "significant other/ support person" as part of a bail out strategy. We also require that the event coordinator be notified immediately upon the decison to quit. In addition to that, we also employ time limits at certain points on the course that if unreached by a participant in time result in an automatic DNF.

    This all helps us to "scratch" folks who either DNF by calling in or by time limitations so we know who is still in the running for the finish. In response to your question, it means nothing at all to the event once either one of these two DNF possibilities is applied to a person. After that point, the event is over for them. So, you see from our standpoint, if a person in the event accepts a ride from anyone, or any outside assistance, they are DNF'ed and the event is done for them.

    I think what the original intent of Mike's post was that an event volunteer or other individual should not have to risk life and limb due to the poor preparation and decision making of an event participant in these self supported /self reliance type of events. If you follow the events proper DNF policy and can extricate yourself from the course unassisted because you realized you were headed into a situation that was beyond what you were ready for or could handle as equipped, then that is an "ideal" to be strived for. Not a hard and fast rule, as some here seem to have read into this, but something to be aware of. Of course, anything can and does happen out there beyond our controls that negates this "ideal", but it's still a wise thing to strive for.

    That's my interpretation of this. It's not "a rule", but a process of wisdom really.
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  99. #99
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    Thanks Guitar Ted. I understand what you you said and appreciate your spelling it out, my confusion came in with Trail717's post which seemed almost apologetic, as if he was scolded by someone for going about his DNF in the way he did. He certainly didn't have another person risk life/limb to help him and it appears to me that he already took himself out of the race before accepting outside assistance, not necessarily a DQ situation (although I'm sure some ice cream would have been a welcome sight) but just a man who had too much and was now in the process of finding a way home.

    So I guess my question pertains more to the decision to step off the course and "quit". Is there an ideal way to do this as well?

  100. #100
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    Arrow

    Quote Originally Posted by alizbee
    Everyone helping is not self-supported.
    I was there (Arrowhead) as well (running). I helped a few other racers who were having issues with equipment. Does that make it not self-supported? If it was against the rules for racers to help racers, then count me out since that is utterly against the spirit of the wilderness.

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