Getting Ready for '02
Matlock in the heart of the English Peak District is home to both Andy Heading and Alan Sheldon and their families. Although it can get some severe weather in winter nothing here compares to the conditions that the pair will meet on the Iditarod trail. Snow comes to Matlock and other Peak towns every winter but it rarely stays around for more than a few days.
In Alaska winter is different.
At it's worst conditions can give a mean temperature of
-40. Add in some wind chill and the cold is mind numbing and dangerous.
Even a short exposure to these conditions will render unprotected flesh
frostbitten. The two riders are using bikes but for much of the route
they will be done pushing them through deep snow drifts and across the
slick surface frozen rivers.
I know that Alsakan dog mushers always carry a firearm.
Wolves, bears and even moose can be a danger and often the only way
to protect himslef and his team is to use a gun.
With the experience gained in the 2001 race the pair are confident that they will both reach the finish line this time round. With his injury from last year fully healed and the reason for the problem, frozen boots, now addressed Alan is ready for the long leg to Nome which eluded him last year.
Although the organisers call it a race, and someone must inevitably arrive in nome first, the team are very aware of the fact that it is a wild adventure too. There view is like that of a famous climber who stated that the 'summit was just another point on a map', not what it is all about.
Just like the finish line at Nome, good to get there but being first is not the object, it is to have a great time doing it.