Iron Dog 2015 (Day 5 Update)

Speed is the name of the game in this race, even when on layover.  After a 15 minute inspection time, each turn of the wrench went on the clock as teams feverishly changed clutches, swapped belts, replaced broken a-arms and shocks, and returned missing bogey wheels to their rightful homes.  For many of these teams, speed on the trail is just one facet of what they're good at.  Speed in the garage is the other. The live-streaming camera in the garage at Nome showed a flurry of wrenches, parts,  guys scrambling around to lift tracks, flip machines on their sides, and get everything back in shape, reminiscent of a NASCAR pit-stop.  To give you an idea of what can happen in short-order, Team 7 completed all of the following tasks (to the best of our knowledge)....in 8 minutes and 40 seconds: -Replaced both primary clutches -Replaced both drive belts -Adjusted both chains -Adjusted both tracks. -Replaced cowling on Davis' sled -Replaced brake master cylinder and bled the brakes on Davis sled -Checked every suspension bolt -Adjusted toe in on Bartels sled -Adjusted auxiliary fuel tanks on Davis sled -Cranked up the coil spring on both center shocks The Father/Son son duo of Team 6 also completed 11 minutes worth of work, which appeared to involve a fair bit of suspension work on of their Skidoo snowmobiles.  Their 11 minute repair hurricane is detailed below in a great time-lapse from Vine user Kyle Hopkins

[video width="480" height="480" mp4="https://www.thealaskalife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/02CCAB62041182537849984458752_3c42251a389.1.5.1115028619506105809.mp4"][/video]

Andy George of Team 6 turned 52 years old yesterday and is very comfortable to be in 3rd place, checking out of Nome, headed South, just 57 minutes behind the leaders.  Staring down the barrel of 1,000 miles of rugged Alaskan terrain with little snow means anything can happen.  With rumors of an inbound storm dumping more than a foot of snow on the trail, George is quoted saying “Let somebody else break the trail, mark the trail, knock it down just a little bit,” he said. “Being where we are at is perfect.” Ryan Sottasanti of Team 2 is pictured here with one of the many trophies that he's already earned on the 2015 Iron Dog race.  With Sottasanti's track record so far in this race, the right side of is Polaris Axys had better be prepared to be turned into another trophy before long!

On the thread of field-expedient repairs for some of these teams, being creative might mean more than having the right parts on hand in some cases.  Team 36 is pictured below with a custom-made pull-cord handle.  Doing what you have to do in order to get you headed back down the trail is number one priority in this race.

[caption id="attachment_4716" align="aligncenter" width="461"]Make-shift Pull-Cord Handle Make-shift Pull-Cord Handle[/caption] CAUTION...SPECULATION INBOUND: In the short video below, Team 41 Davis/Simons are performing their 15 minute inspection prior to on-the-clock repairs.  The use of a spark plug wrench and compression tester are allowed for the inspection time.  After checking cylinder compression, Davis is heard saying 'That sucks' after reading the gauge. [video width="426" height="240" mp4="https://www.thealaskalife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/TAL1.mp4"][/video] Pure speculation, but it was noted that Simons did sink his sled in an unknown depth of water between Unalakleet and Nome.  Coupled with photos of Davis removing his socks and bunny boots shortly after arriving in Nome, is it possible that what Davis said could be seeing slightly low cylinder compression due to water ingestion and a potentially bent piston rod?  For now, we don't know what 'That sucks' means, but we hope not. We mentioned Team 40 of Agnes/Marks heading back to Shaktoolik to replace a blown chain case on one of their Yamaha SRViper machines.  No details on how long it took or if they waited for parts for a while, but they did successfully arrive in Nome with just 40 minutes to spare before the cutoff.  They are officially still in this race as a Pro-Class team.

The Alaska Life

Of the 14 teams that have officially scratched in the longest, toughest snowmobile race on earth, Team 22 was reported to have sunk their snowmobiles in Golovnin lagoon yesterday.  If you remember, Team 33 sunk their sleds shortly outside of Shaktoolik but continued toward Nome in the dark.  I believe this section is far worse than anyone had previously envisioned, and the aerial footage below, courtesy of Stacey Green, shows just how dangerous this could have been.   Conner of Team 33 reports that they crossed this section at around 2am in complete darkness.  Conner said there were were trail markers across the lagoon about every half mile or so and then all of the sudden it was open water and ice bergs.  They skipped across open-ocean for a mile or more, and it 'Completely freaked him out'.  With nothing more than the illumination of their headlights showing open water as far as they could see, its no wonder they were a bit nervous!

[video width="1280" height="720" mp4="https://www.thealaskalife.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/TAl2.mp4"][/video] At 8:00 this morning, the race was officially back underway with Team 20 leaving Nome with the rest of the pack hot on their heels.  The photo below, courtesy of Irondog.tv shows the departure times for the top 5 teams, complete with adjustments for maintenance work.

TAL4

As of 10:30am, the top 3 teams almost mirrored their positioning and times leaving Nome as they passed through White Mountain.  Team 7 trailed the leaders Quam/Faeo by just 17 minutes, while George/George are still off the lead pace by 58 minutes.  South of White Mountain, heading 94 miles back toward Koyuk, it does appear that the GPS is telling the story of Davis/Bartel whittling away at the lead Quam/Faeo are trying to hold onto.

 More to come on this race and The Alaska Life will attempt a second update later this evening...stay tuned!

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