Rest day, or sometimes referred to as ‘Wrenchin’ Wednesday’ marks the halfway point in the Iron Dog as racers rest both mind and body, but also tend to the proper care and repair of their machines.
After some comfort food and a bit of sleep, teams are granted 15 minutes of ‘off clock time’ where racers are allotted time to give each machine a thorough inspection. This allows teams to gather the necessary information to see what repairs they need to make, what parts they might need, and what tools they will require to make these repairs and perform the maintenance.
Regarding major maintenance, we often see teams running the gamut between doing simple belt changes all the way to major motor repair. From the looks of the maintenance times (all under 10 minutes, many under 5 minutes from what I can see) it seems that minor maintenance is the rule not the exception for many of these teams.
From the Iron Dog Oracle:
‘I spoke with team 14 yesterday before their inspection. All is good. They will adjust the track and chain and change drive belt at most. Expect just a couple of minutes on the clock is their guess.
Team 30 has no issues or problems and will perform standard maintenance. Again expect just a few minutes on the clock.
Team 5 reports no major issues, but they started losing top speed on the Yukon River. They hope its simply a function of worn drive belts. Mirroring the other teams, just a few minutes of time
I think Team 10 will have a little clutch maintenance. It seemed that Chris’ sled was making a lot of belt noise when they pulled into White Mountain.
I heard from a couple teams in Nome and they confirmed that almost every team looks great and very little visible damage for anyone in the garage.’
The largest maintenance issues for a team that made it to Nome still appears to be from Team 44 who ran into the bent tunnel and cracked heat-exchanger. Just before Ruby Michael Lilley bent the tunnel after going off a 12-foot embankment. In the heat of the moment the racers didn’t immediately assess the damage until just outside of Galena where the cooler separated from the circulation tubes on Lilley’s Arctic Cat sled. From there until Kaltag the machine was losing coolant through a crack in the aluminum. The team was able to get back on the trail after painstakingly watching JB-Weld cure on the cooler, all while time was ticking away on the clock. Persistence paid off and the team did in fact make it to Nome.
A common saying in Alaska is ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes’, and that adage rang true for the western coast of Alaska. The following two photos were taken less than a day apart showing perfect racing conditions followed by a winter snow storm bringing with it flat light, gusting winds, and greatly reduced visibility. This will certainly affect racers as they leave Nome tomorrow making their way south along the same coast before heading up the Yukon River again.
Video from Team 30’s Facebook page shows what the weather looked like in Nome today
By contrast, here is a video taken by pilot Brian Turner showing racer Kyle Conner coaxing his Arctic Cat sled along the coastline as fast as it will go. Incredible aerial footage!